Legislative session preseason action is just heating up in most states, but a few have hit the two-minute warning as the year draws to a close.
- No timeouts left: Earlier today, Michigan's GOP-led legislature approved that petition-driven measure that outlaws abortion coverage except through a separately purchased rider on a woman's health insurance policy. The rape insurance law will go into effect in March, and there will be no hail Marys -- the new law neither requires the governor's approval nor that of Michigan's voters. (Democracy!)
- Those Michigan lawmakers were awfully busy today -- the House also passed a controversial new campaign finance bill. In its current form (it still has to re-pass the state Senate), the measure doubles contribution limits and shields the anonymity of donors behind those so-called "issue ads" that suggest a candidate drowns puppies for fun but don't specifically ask you to vote for/against him/her. (More democracy!)
- Punting: Ohio legislators are holding over a bill that eliminates the "Golden Week" -- the week during which Ohioans can both register to vote and cast their early in-person absentee ballots at the same time -- until next year. (So much democracy!)
- Substitution entering the field: Colorado Democrats have selected Arvada City Councilwoman Rachel Zenzinger to replace Evie Hudak in the state Senate. Hudak resigned last week to preserve the Democrats' one-seat Senate majority in the face of an anti-gun safety group-sponsored recall like the ones that took out two of her colleagues earlier this year. Zenzinger will run to keep the seat in the November 2014 general election. (Close one!)
- Checking the scoreboard: Speaking of gun safety laws, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence just released its 2013 State Scorecard, which evaluates and ranks each state based on each's policies on regulating guns and ammo. (Guess who's winning.)
- Mid-season draft: The two candidates to replace lieutenant governor-elect Ralph Northam in the Virginia state Senate are already up with TV and radio ads. The special election, which will determine effective majority control of the chamber, will be held on January 7, 2014. (Virginia: America's perpetual employment program for campaign staffers.)
- Reviewing the play: Speaking of Virginia, the recount in the attorney general race slogs on. A three-judge panel has set the rules for next week's recount, which will begin on December 17 in most localities ("workload concerns" led the panel to permit Alexandria, Chesapeake, and Fairfax County to begin the process a day early). (Suspense! Drama! Possibly ignoring voters!)
- Pregame: Pre-filing of legislation for next year's sessions has begun in some states, including Virginia, where GOP Del. Bob Marshall has already introduced a measure that would prohibit the Commonwealth's police or other "agents" from enforcing of any federal gun-related measures enacted after 12/1/13. Additionally, legislators have introduced bills to implement partisan voter registration, raise the minimum wage, and repeal the ban on same sex marriage. (Quick, guess the bill with a snowball's chance of passing and being signed into law!)
- In Florida, measures have been introduced to establish term limits for state lawmakers and to place a "granite monument" of the Ten Commandments on Capitol grounds. (Art!)
- In South Carolina, legislators have introduced measures that would establish universal kindergarten for four-year-olds and implement new safety rules for mopeds. (Vroom!)
- Play of the week: Another measure we can expect to see kicked around in lots of GOP-controlled statehouses next year is one calling for an Article V Convention of States aimed at amending the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget, implement term limits for Supreme Court justices, do away with the direct election of U.S. Senators... or whatever; the sky's the limit! Dave Weigel and Emma Roller did a groovy piece on a little party supporters of the Article V effort had over the weekend. Did your invitation get lost in the mail? No worries; apparently the whole gang is getting together again in the spring.
For the Week of December 11, 2013
The following 8 state legislatures are actively meeting this week: MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, MISSOURI, NEW JERSEY, OHIO, OREGON, PENNSYLVANIA, and TENNESSEE.
Also meeting: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PUERTO RICO.
The National Black Caucus of State Legislators will hold its 37th Annual Legislative Conference December 11-14 at the Peabody Memphis Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.
The Democratic Attorneys General Association will hold its Holiday Party December 11 in Washington, D.C.
The Western Governors' Association will hold its Annual Winter Meeting December 11-12 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners will hold its Fall National Meeting at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park December 15-18 in Washington, D.C.
The Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District held a public meeting December 11 to discuss proposed amendments to the 2010 PM10 Maintenance Plan for the Coso Junction Planning Area. The updates will help ensure compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for particulate matter.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee, Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee, and Select Committee on Privacy will jointly hold an informational hearing December 12 to discuss the collection, sharing and tracking of personal data, privacy laws, and the opportunity for future legislation.
The Joint Committee on Appropriations and the Joint Committee Public Health Committees will meet December 12 to hear and discuss a report regarding financial assistance for community health centers.
A special election was held December 10 for House District 7 and Senate District 13.
The Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business will hold a hearing December 12 on S.B. 74, filed by Senator Marc Pacheco (D). The bill allows for local zoning ordinances to control pollution. The hearing will be open to the public, and testimony will be accepted.
In special session to discuss tax incentives to win the Boeing Production Plant bid.
Voter ID bill HB 1073 was filed. This bill requires a person to submit a specified form of photo identification in order to vote in a public election with specified exemptions.
Voter ID bill SB 511 was filed. This bill establishes photo identification requirements for voting.
Voter ID bill SJR 31 was filed. Upon voter approval, this constitutional amendment provides that a voter seeking to vote in person may be required by general law to identify himself or herself as a United States citizen and a resident of the state by producing valid, government-issued photo identification.
The Power Review Board will meet December 13 to discuss the issue of plug-in electric vehicle charging stations.
A special election will be held December 17 for House Stafford 6.
Vote by Mail bill SB 1682 is scheduled to be heard December 12, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Room. This bill permits registered voters to receive mail-in ballots automatically for all elections under certain conditions and limits the number of sample ballots transmitted to each residence.
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services will meet December 13 to discuss the Medicaid budget and Medicaid reform.
The House Health and Aging Committee met December 11 to discuss H.B. 314, which requires a prescriber to obtain written consent from a minor's parent or guardian before issuing a controlled substance prescription to the minor.
The House Children and Youth Committee held a hearing December 10 to discuss and vote on S.B. 33, providing whistleblower protection for child abuse reporters.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control will meet December 12 to discuss proposed amendments incorporating federal standards to the state implementation plan pursuant to the Clean Air Act.
The Health Care Task Force will meet December 12 to be briefed on recent Federal Affordable Care Act regulations and implementation guidance. Additionally, the Task Force will consider draft legislation related to health reform prepared for the 2014 general session of the Legislature.
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