June 16, 2017
House and Senate leaders appear to have agreed on an outline for the state budget but remaining details may take another day or so to finalize. Apparently differences between the two chambers about the size and scope of the tax provisions have taken longer to negotiate than the leadership’s original schedule allowed. However if the budget agreement is read into the record during a skeletal session late Friday or over the weekend, it is still expected that floor votes will be held early next week.
In any event, the session is clearly drawing to a close. While a number of bills are being debated in committee, there are few “must do” pieces of legislation which remain outstanding. The leadership’s goal is to concentrate on the budget and adjourn by the July 4th holiday. As such, it is worth noting that there have been 33 session law enacted through June 15th. By way of contrast, there were 85 through the same number of calendar days after convening the 2015 session and 112 after convening the 2013 session.
In other news…
One distraction for legislators is the litigation surrounding their districts. Last week, a three-judge federal panel issued a memo saying it "intends to act promptly on this matter" and asking legislative leaders to submit statements to address the 28 districts which have been found to constitute illegal racial gerrymanders "as expeditiously as possible.” This week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a one-sentence denial which could make it harder for the lower federal court to assemble a workable plan to hold otherwise unscheduled elections this fall under redrawn boundaries. Stay tuned to this ongoing legal (and political) drama.
The House passed their version of Senate Bill 16 (“Business & Agency Regulatory Reform Act of 2017”) on a 94-19 vote. This omnibus measure addressing an array of state rules and regulations will now go to the Senate for concurrence or a possible conference committee to iron out differences between the two chambers:
The House Commerce Committee approved House Bill 795 (“Economic Development Incentives Modifications”) this week. The House approach expands business opportunities for job growth in rural areas while a related Senate bill restricts incentives in urban areas. A summary of the House legislation can be found here:
The Senate Health Care Committee passed a re-write of House Bill 403 (“LME/MCO Claims Reporting/Mental Health Amendments”) this week to significantly alter the integration of mental and physical health services under the state’s Medicaid reform plans. There is strong opposition in the House to this approach. A summary of the Senate committee substitute is available here:
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