25 April 2016

Committee action, Apr. 25: HB 454, HB 174, HB 1021

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 454 by Rep. Dee Richard would force reporting of contracts of a certain amount to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. The current amount is $40,000; this bill would lower it to $25,000, he told the House’s Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Pat Smith said she thought the committee would have to meet more often to review more contracts, which at the current threshold numbers 1,700. Richard didn’t think that necessary.

Without objection, the bill was approved.

23 April 2016

Legislative regular session through Apr. 23, 2016

HB 125, on the list of bad bills, has been removed as a substitute bill for it has transformed into a benign bill. By contrast, SB 470 with a floor amendment has become so watered down that it no longer qualifies as a good bill.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 151 was substituted for by some unspecified bill and passed House committee ; HB 439 passed House committee; HB 453 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 586 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 606 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 812 passed Senate committee; HB 842 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 948 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 1019 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 1081 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 174 passed House committee; SB 329 passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 223 passed the House; HB 231 passed House committee; HB 266 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 598 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 805 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 1079 was deferred involuntarily; HB 1102 with minor amendment passed House committee.

20 April 2016

Committee action, Apr. 20: HB 606, HB 266, HB 1019, HB 1081, HB 598, HB 1079

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 606 by the House Health and Welfare Committee Rep. Frank Hoffman would prohibit state funding to any organization that performs abortion, regardless of whether the funding went to abortion. After a minor amendment was approved, supporters said that such organizations deceptively steered women towards abortions, distorted the overwhelming role abortions played in their service provision and revenues, and have many options for health care.

Rep. Kenny Cox wondered whether money that went to such organizations could be diverted to other pressing health needs, such as addressing diseases related to reproduction. Rep. Mike Johnson noted the complete constitutionality of the bill that would not restrict abortion.

Opponents claimed it would be restrictive and would not protect women because of economic disparities. Rep. Katrina Jackson noted that sufficient providers existed that could receive funding otherwise going to abortion providers, some providing free services, which opponents disputed. Johnson asked if it were an economic burden to women, why adoption was not a viable option. He wondered whether Planned Parenthood representatives were present and willing to testify, and one showed up. Johnson asked a number of questions about finances and incriminating video evidence concerning organization, which she gave little in the way of answers except to try to defend the content on the videos. Additional questions by Jackson also were evaded.

16 April 2016

Legislative regular session through Apr. 16, 2016

The session rolls on, with the only “new” bills coming from substitutes.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 6 was deferred involuntarily; HB 103 was deferred involuntarily; HB 153 was withdrawn; HB 315 was deferred involuntarily; HB 594 passed the House; SB 89 was substituted for by SB 470; SB 174 passed Senate committee; SB 307 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and passed the Senate; SB 351 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 32 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 82 was deferred involuntarily; HB 84 was deferred involuntarily; HB 98 was deferred involuntarily; HB 155 was deferred involuntarily; HB 159 was withdrawn; HB 167 was deferred involuntarily; HB 223 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 805 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 254 with major amendment passed the Senate; SB 433 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate.

13 April 2016

Committee action, Apr. 13: SB 393, SB 84

DID YOU KNOW?
SB 393 by Sen. Troy Carter would call for a limited constitutional convention. Carter explained to the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee that the time had come for one to create budgetary flexibility. The Legislature would serve as the convention. He said he had no preconceived notions as to the final product, but that it would address fiscal matters.

Sen. Jim Fannin said it concerned him that negative changes could occur without some prior agreement over what should come out. Carter replied that this kind of argument only discourages from taking the responsibility to make needed changes that would prevent panicked, last-minute solutions on an ongoing basis. Fannin questioned whether this convention could achieve much more than making changes in statute.

Carter then announced he would defer the bill in order to change some the dates, which would not allow the proposal to go to voters in the spring.