You can tell it is getting time for school to start. There is a buzz in the air that seems like everyone is trying to squeeze out every last drop of summer before the kids head back to the classroom. On top of that… the weather has been a bear! Its either too hot to do anything or you are scrambling to secure your lawn furniture or get your car in the garage before the “big” storm hits.
You will also note by both Delegate Lori Dittman and Brent Boggs columns’ that the same is true on the state level. The Governor called a special session to coincide with the legislative interim meetings. For some reason, he waited till the last minute to release the agenda of exactly what could be taken up during the special meeting. Obviously, he and the legislative leadership probably had an idea, but the public was sure kept in the dark until the last minute.
I received Lori’s column just before noon and the house had already acted on 8 of the 44 measures that they were allowed to take up. Most were procedural items and had been talked about previously, including some errors that occurred in bills passed last session.
As you can see Brent has concerns about the legislature acting too quickly, without members of both houses having time to properly review the measures in committee. He wisely notes that is where flaws are usually identified and corrected. I can remember from previous years where the majority of the first part of any legislative session was spent fixing what they screwed up in the previous one. Fortunately, it seemed lawmakers saw the error of their ways and gotten away from that practice. The outcome was definitely in the public’s favor as bills seemed to have far less mistakes when they finally became law.
Unfortunately, the current leadership has cut back in the number of interim meetings and often seems to try to rush measures through the process at the last minute or under the radar. Hopefully, they will again see that maybe that’s not the best practice.
The two biggies… personnel for regional jails and financial assistance for fire and EMS agencies have been deferred to the Judiciary Committee. That’s a good thing.
I have heard talk pertaining to funding of fire and EMS that concern me. Agencies of emergency services have lobbied for permanent sources of funding. Early word is that the bill proposes to put a one-time cash infusion into EMS. It is early and I haven’t seen the details, but does EMS include the fire service which has always seemed to be the bastard child when come to the legislature? Plus… many of the EMS agencies around the state are for profit companies. Should tax dollars subsidize private business? I will be watching closely to see how this unfolds.