We are slowly but surely starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Today is the 84th day of session which means we have 6 days remaining. I have two personal bills in the Senate: House Bill 93 – Do Not Call Registry/Cell-Mobile Phones is on tomorrow’s Senate Labor and Commerce Committee schedule; House Bill 170 - Repeal Day Fines has passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee and is expected to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee within the next couple of days.
House Bill 44 – the ANGDA and AHFC Bonding bill is on the House floor and I expect it will pass tomorrow. The House is contemplating incorporating language found in the Resources version of House Bill 163 – ANGDA Authority, into HB 44. It is my intention to turn the gavel over to the Majority Leader, Kyle Johansen, so I can present the bill to the body. I consider this legislation to be a priority and will push for its passage when it gets to the Senate. I also want to see ANGDA’s authority expanded to allow them to commence work on a bullet line in addition to their duties to develop a spur line. It is likely this will also be incorporated into my HB 44.
The House and Senate leadership met with the Governor this afternoon, but it wasn’t a particularly productive meeting. We discussed the capital budget and the stimulus funding but little else and no conclusion was reached. We are still in negotiations and working with the Administration and the Senate in getting priority legislation passed.
As we approach the end, I believe we are going to see changes in the minimum wage (Senate Bill 1), various sunset extensions of boards and commissions that were due to expire this year, appropriate legislation authorizing receipt of stimulus funds, a compact with other states for military children and their education (HB 137), child support revisions (SB 96) and other bills that are important to certain constituencies around the state. As I have stated before in previous commentaries, I am not a proponent of passing bills for the sake of having a certain number pass before session’s end. Every time a bill passes, it seems as if we are taking away more individual rights and passing them along to our government.
In my role as Speaker, I find myself settling minor disputes between members, ensuring committees accomplishing the work they need to prior to adjournment, keeping informed of what is happening with the budget negotiations and budget conference committee, keeping our caucus informed of any developments in our end game, answering constituents on issues they have expressed concerns or interest, and negotiate the final session package with the Senate and Administration. Our discussions with the Senate have been fruitful; the only stumbling block may be with language pertaining to parental consent for abortions, which is still being worked out. It is my hope that this is settled so we can have an uneventful and peaceful adjournment.