Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Vote or Sine Die edition

While I was at the beach, some more legislatures wrapped up their sessions. What havoc did they wreak? Well, let's see...
  • Florida: With GOP supermajorities busted for the first time since... well, a while, a general air of cooperation seemed to prevail in this year's legislature. Public education got more funding, and public workers and teachers got raises, but the still heavily-GOP chambers failed to expand Medicaid. (Fun fact: One of my law school colleagues ended up getting himself elected to the Florida House. He threw some extremely serious parties back in the day.)
  • Hawaii: Although efforts to raise the minimum wage failed in the final hours bill negotiations, the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature passed legislation to start a new loan program for solar panels and other green energy equipment and advanced a constitutional amendment for state-funded preschool. They even passed a bill requiring superPACs to disclose their top three donors in campaign ads. 
  • North Dakota: In a nutshell, the legislature ensured that little kids will get milk at snacktime, possibly from a shared cow, and speeding fines will remain wicked cheap. Oh, and they did everything they could think of to make obtaining a safe, legal abortion nearly impossible in their state (court challenges are already getting under way). 
  • Colorado: These folks were busy. They taxed and regulated recreational pot, and they provided for increased mental health resources, They approved same-sex civil unions, passed gun-control laws,  and established same-day voter registration and a comprehensive vote-by mail system.
In other voting news, 
  • Alabama is on its way to lopping a week off the length of time during which folks can register to vote. 
  • Legalizing same-sex marriage was pretty cool, but Minnesota also is on its way to passing a measure to allow voters to cast in-person absentee ballots without giving a reason. 
  • Not wanting to be shown up by the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the Delaware legislature is following its passage of a same-sex marriage bill with a measure that would allow Election Day and online voter registration.
  • In New Jersey, Gov. Christie vetoed a bill that would have created a 15-day early voting period. 
  • An Oregon measure that would result in the automatic registration of eligible voters continues to inch forward.

And even though it's not over until June, I kind of wish North Carolina's legislative session would wrap up. They're moving all kinds of nonsense through there (local reports indicate that ALEC still holds a lot of sway in the state, despite past controversy). For example,
  • bill (that passed committee just this morning and is headed to the House floor) allowing private employers to refuse to cover contraception in health insurance plans.
  • bill requiring that sex ed instruction include teaching young women that abortions lead to subsequent premature births.
  • bill requiring minors to obtain written parental permission before receiving birth control, STD treatment, mental illness, or substance abuse treatment. 
  • bill ending the requirement that utility companies use solar and other alternative energy sources, because climate change is a myth and who needs the Outer Banks anyway, right? 
And now, because YOLO (You Only Legislate Once), my Bill of the Week is actually a pair of measures moving in New York and Connecticut to legalize mixed martial arts (UFC and the like) in those states. If these bills pass, MMA will be legal in all fifty states.  In case you're into that. (Don't judge.)

Less sexy stuff below.

For the Week of May 15, 2013


Women in Government will hold its Annual Western Regional Conference May 16-18 in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

The National Association of Medicaid Directors will host its Spring Membership Meeting May 19-21 in Westminster, Colorado. 


Voter ID bill SB 81 was indefinitely postponed.  This bill would allow a qualified voter to sign an affidavit affirming his or her identity if the elector does not have valid photo identification. Existing Alabama law would require voters to show valid photo ID to vote in person, effective in the first statewide primary in 2014. 


The Department of Environmental Conservation will hold a public hearing May 16 to discuss proposed amendments to the state air quality control rules. 


The Senate Appropriations Committee met May 13 to discuss S.B. 700, which requires a retail establishment to collect a charge of $0.05 for each single-use carryout bag provided to a customer. 

The Department of Conservation will hold a public workshop May 16 to discuss the development of draft hydraulic fracturing rules. 


The Board of Pharmacy will hold a hearing May 15 to discuss proposed amendments to the definition of compounding. 


Omnibus bill HB 7013 was sent to the governor. Among several other provisions, this bill allows the supervisor of elections to offer early voting before the official early voting period, at the supervisor's discretion, on the 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, 11th, or 2nd day before a state or federal election, for at least 6 hours but not more than 12 hours per day at each site, up to a maximum of 14 days of early voting. Early voting currently begins on the 10th day before an election and ends on the third day before Election Day. 


Youth Voting bill HB 105 was scheduled to be heard May 14. This bill requires public universities to send students an email on voter registration during even-numbered general election years. The bill establishes requirements concerning the content of the message and when it should be sent. The bill requires the Board of Higher Education to issue a notice to each public institution of higher learning of the requirements concerning the electronic message in August of each even-numbered year during which a general election is held. This bill amends the Board of Higher Education Act. The bill provides that the Board of Higher Education shall include specified information concerning college voter registration on its Internet website. 


Voter Registration bill HB 341 passed the House as amended. Among many provisions, this bill provides for the voluntary registration of entities that conduct voter registration drives; provides that eligibility of applicants who submit applications through voter registration agencies must be processed like voter registration cards delivered by mail, "which procedures include an initial verification mailing." 


The Joint Committee on Public Health will hold a hearing May 14 to discuss H.B. 2081, which provides for the establishment and operation of a cancer drug repository program. 

The Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing May 16 to discuss proposed amendments to a hazardous waste rule. 


The Assembly Taxation Committee met May 14 to consider A.B. 498, which creates the Nevada Entertainment and Admissions Tax and imposes it on admission to any place of amusement, sport, recreation or other entertainment where an admission charge is collected.

Voter Registration bill AB 440 was heard May 14 by the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections at 9:00 a.m. This bill extends the period in which a person may register to vote for primary, primary city, general and general city elections until the last day of early voting for those elections, which is the Friday before the election. This bill also allows a person to register to vote by computer after the fifth Sunday before the election. Additionally, this bill extends the period in which a person may register to vote for all elections except otherwise specified recall and special elections until the fourth day before the election. These changes take effect onJanuary 1, 2014 


The Pension and Health Benefits Review Commission will meet May 17 to consider S.B. 792, which requires health insurers to cover comprehensive ultrasound breast screenings, if a mammogram demonstrates certain dense breast tissue, and also requires mammogram reports to contain information on breast density. 


The House Judiciary Committee will meet May 14 to consider H.B. 3514, which places limitations on the use of unmanned aircraft by law enforcement agencies.


The Legislature convened a special session May 13. 


The Joint Judiciary Interim Committee met May 13 to discuss a draft measure to create a uniform schedule of misdemeanors in the state.

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