Every session takes on a different dynamic but this session goes above and beyond the usual. I equate it to being in my first term when I came here not knowing how this would work. Believe me, the effects of Covid-19 and the resulting technologies are creating the same feeling. The staff here has done wonders to get the technology in place to allow for remote participation but getting non-techy people like me to fully use the available systems is a different matter.
The disagreements some of us expected to happen on the floor the first day failed to materialize, much to our delight. No nominations for a different speaker or introduction of the rules I had detailed in my first article. The only motion was to go back to the 2017 rules instead of the 2019 rules was quickly defeated. That was a very good thing since the 17 rules allowed the speaker to be a dictator.
Appropriations started the bill procession with what is called the feed bill-HB 1. It provides the funding for the session and is critical to the smooth operation going forward. It passed out of Approps unanimous and was sent to the floor where it passed with little opposition.
A couple of other bills were presented to the committee including HB 3 and HB 13. HB 3 is the supplemental bill, always a little controversial but it has to pass because the departments requesting the funds have already pretty much spent the money. HB 13, the state employee plan is more controversial because some feel the state employees don’t deserve a raise- for various reasons. The plan calls for no increase in fiscal year 22 and 55 cents on 23. Not a huge raise but millions of dollars because of the number of state employees covered. It hasn’t passed out of Approps but will in the very near future.
Floor sessions are always light early in the process but will pick up quickly as bills begin to be passed out of the committees. Probably the one I am asked about most is the marijuana Bill and if we can kill it. The answer is no. A referendum passed by popular vote is as binding as a bill we pass, but, we can change some of the provisions of the bill. The appropriation of money in the bill is illegal since only the legislature can appropriate money so that will be changed and several other bills will be coming to address other aspects of the bill but it’s still law unless overturned by the Supreme Court.
I will continue with nearly weekly articles during the session, hopefully with an educational aspect to them. If there is something you would like to know more about or want to express your feelings on bills, contact me at Ken.email@example.com or text me at 951-6764. Things really start to pick up next week so I probably won’t be available to answer a call but if you leave me a voicemail I will call you back.