Both the House and Senate finished up work debating bills before turnaround day, which was Tuesday. From this point on in the House, only Senate bills or blessed bills will be able to see action in the coming week in House committees
A brief explanation again as to what that means. Only Senate bills will be worked in the House, but the exceptions are the so-called blessed bills. Those House bills that have touched either the Appropriations, Federal and State Affairs or Taxation committees are blessed so can continue to be worked on in House committees and eventually pass across the House floor.
Several issues have come along that may be of interest. First, there was a proposal to call an Article V Convention of States. What that means is that there are those who would like to call a Constitutional Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to require the Federal Government to have a balanced budget.
It is something of a statement calling the Federal Government on the carpet for malfeasance. Long story short, the bill required a super majority of 84 votes and only received 77.
Another bill was to formalize the budget passed last week by withholding some of the State payments to KPERS death and disability. If that sounds backwards, it is. That was included in the budget but needed to be passed as separate legislation. It passed with some opposition. If it had not passed, the budget would need further adjustment later in the session when the omnibus budget comes along.
The omnibus budget is the one that includes all funds and is done later in the session after revenue estimates are finished later in April.
Changing the noxious weed law to make it more responsive to a noxious weed outbreak passed the House. This bill gives most of the authority to the Secretary of Agriculture, along with an advisory committee, to identify and begin treatment of new identified species. It also puts quite a bit of the responsibility to identify and treat weeds on the counties. Often times the identified noxious weeds are brought to the State as ornamental plants or in animal feed and hay.
Because of a very active corrections and juvenile justice committee quite a few bills come up that recodify, or modernize, laws in regard to the jails and courts. In some cases the sentencing chart or guidelines are adjusted and possibly even the length of prison stay may be adjusted. There is some concern that the State is running low on prison space so if the sentencing grid is adjusted, certain prisoners may be eligible for probation or release earlier, freeing up some space.
Some of the issues before turnaround have been controversial, but many of the issues have not been. Issues like education standards and possible further adjustments to the budget will return or likely come up in the second half of session. It is understood that the legislative process can be difficult to follow, but continue to pay attention and feel free to ask if you have questions.
I want to remind people that the second half of session goes by much quicker, but also remember that most issues are not yet resolved, and will not be until first adjournment scheduled for the 25th of March.