13 April 2016

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

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.

SB 84 by Sen. Ryan Gatti would weaken civil service restrictions on state employees’ political activities. Originally, it would have operated in blanket fashion, but the specific intent was to change that police or fire officials who violated speech restrictions would face only termination. Thus, Gatti wanted an amendment to apply it only to the two categories and to create a first offense penalty of a 30-day suspension and counseling. It was offered and adopted.

It also appeared to address the qualification that either class of employee must resign to run for office, which Gatti tried to explain, but Chairwoman Karen Peterson said it had passed so maybe he ought quit while ahead. Upon prompting by Sen. Mike Walsworth, Gatti said that other amendment clarified this necessity. The bill then was reported favorably without objection.

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