02 April 2014

Committee action, Apr. 2: HB 373, HB 112, HB 686

HB 373 by Rep. Steve Carter would shorten “general” session lengths and limit the number of bills to be offered in them. He told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that in these general sessions have a lot of bills filed, whereas less than half pass, while during the “fiscal” sessions fewer are filed but higher proportions pass. He said other states filed fewer and passed higher proportions. He argued that fewer bills translated into higher quality bills that concentrated efforts.

Rep. Dee Richard was invited to give his input for HB 112, which addresses the fiscal sessions shortening it and would have only tax measures permitted. He said Carter’s reasoning worked for his.

Rep. Mike Danahay asked whether these limits counted for local matters. Carter said the limit of 10 proposed did not include local bills, which would be unlimited. Despite that, Danahay said he was uncomfortable with a limit. Carter said there also would be cost savings in addition to time savings. Rep. John Schroder wondered about the impact on budget matters, but Carter said they managed to get one out during the fiscal sessions, and staff didn’t think it would matter. Richard said budgeting would not be affected. Schroder said it would be better to keep the starting date the same and end earlier rather than start later and end at the same time.

Chairman Tim Burns volunteered that more data were needed to help build consensus. He thought they should get turned into a study resolution, but Schroder thought they should continue. The authors said they would do their best to get the information in the near future, with the option of turning them into a study resolution, and both were deferred voluntarily.

HB 686 by Rep. Scott Simon would require electronic visit verification for personnel serving clients on waiver programs. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert testified to the House Health and Welfare Committee that cost savings could be considerable. Other states reported on the low end five percent savings, which would translate into for just one program over $23 million in savings, which would more than pay for the system. Not just taxpayers will save, but providers as well since it would make for greater efficiency.

Rep. Kenny Cox said he was wary, because in his military experience whenever somebody said they were saving somewhere, somebody was paying. Simon said the payer here would be those fraudulently billing agencies for work they weren’t doing. Cox said that a previous regulation of a $50,000 letter of credit required by provider sent some out of business, and he didn’t want to see burdensome requirements do the same here that would cost jobs. Kliebert said there were inexpensive ways to implement.

A representative of a smaller provider asked whether savings could be passed along to them at some point. Unanimously the bill was approved.

Some of you might not have gotten out of school if you didn’t do that.
Rep. Johnny Berthelot, when explaining his HB 500 that would allow teachers to receive gifts from students.

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