In yesterday’s action, the 23rd Legislative day of the 2015 session, the Senate went into session at 2 PM and after some procedural work took up an ambitious Special Order Calendar. In the end we worked our way through the entire calendar with only a handful of bills being carried over so that members could work out some details.
I discuss several bills of note below:
The bill to remove the state from the liquor business, closing the ABC stores was brought up for a vote. I support this bill for a variety of reasons including that it saves the state General Fund Budget between $18 and $24M. No small amount as we look to balance a budget without raising taxes. The bill passed a procedural vote 17 – 11 but was carried over to another day due to the slim margin of support. Some Senators were not present or did not vote and we will need more votes to overcome the opposition on this legislation.
The House version of a bill I’ve carried in the Senate allowing stores to establish allowing rewards programs that provide a price discount on gasoline when combined with other purchases. This bill moves to the Governor for signature now.
In budget news, I want to commend the House as they passed the General Fund Budget yesterday afternoon. The General Fund started in the House this year and after 23 Legislative Days of debate in the House will now come to the Senate for consideration. It is my hope that we will work through the bill in committee next week and debate the bill for final passage Thursday of next week. The House has also passed the Education Budget out of committee. It could be up for the full House debate as early as tomorrow. This bill started in the Senate this year and was voted out of the Senate on the 15th Legislative day.
As I’ve previously stated, we are duty bound to pass a balanced budget during the regular session – we can and should do so and I will continue to work every possible angle to ensure the balanced budgets are sent to the Governor prior to the session ending. A special session will cost approximately $120K dollars a week, money we don’t have and can’t afford.
In today’s actions (Wednesday) committees met throughout the State House on a variety of bills. There is a sense of a hurried pace with some legislation as lobbyist lobby and we near the end of the session...things tend to get interesting this time of year!
I am working to have the Growler Bill on the Senate Calendar for Thursday – fingers crossed. We go into session at 10AM.
Semper Fi - Bill