24 May 2016

Committee action, May 24: SB 446, HB 922, HB 1019

SB 446 by Sen. Sharon Hewitt would have the Board of Regents conduct a review of its operations. She explained to the House Education Committee that a systematic reporting was necessary in order to use most efficiently resources, with an eye towards the future. Limited financial resources made an understanding of what resources were at hand, what gaps exist, and what must be done to close these crucial. The report should have an ideal end state, present state, and the barriers from going to the former from the latter. Then the Legislature would deal with the results next year. She had offered amendments that would clarify expectations, which were adopted unanimously.

Rep. Chris Broadwater found merit to the bill, saying it would prompt the Regents to move faster and farther than might happen otherwise. Four years from the past revision of the master plan he thought meant it was time to review it. But, he said he did not want the bill to make it stale for the future, so he suggested a sunset date. Hewitt said she agreed, and Broadwater offered an amendment to sunset at the end of the next fiscal year that was adopted without dissent.

Rep. Pat Smith wanted to know if Hewitt was amenable to amending to gather data on diversity and degreed status of staff. She didn’t, and the amendment was adopted without objection.

Broadwater also suggested that the separate supervisory boards participate. In that fashion, this would moot conflict and avoid the question of systemic administrative change, such as winnowing boards, because all would have the same vision as reflected in the report.

Without objection, the bill passed.

HB 922 by Rep. Bob Hensgens would allow increase provider fees on nursing homes. He asked for an amendment that would clarify reporting, which was adopted by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. It also passed without objection.

HB 1019 by Rick Edmonds would prevent abortion for the reason of genetic abnormality. He brought information for questions brought up in the previous committee meeting. He said it largely would duplicate existing law in these abnormalities rarely become detected before the 20th week, with abortions already prohibited after that time period. He noted that a similar North Dakota law, which also included gender, had faced challenged but was dismissed voluntarily.

Sen. Dan Claitor, while proclaiming pro-life credentials, said he thought the bill unconstitutional and so objected to passage. In the ensuing vote, only he voted against it.

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