The Olympic excitement may be winding down in Sochi, but the action in state legislatures continues to heat up. (Also like Sochi, I guess.)
- Speaking of warming... A lawmaker in Utah has introduced a bill that would limit the state's authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Not only does Rep. Jerry Anderson feel that the greenhouse gas is a "natural component of the atmosphere" and consequently couldn't possibly be a pollutant, but he also thinks we actually need more of it. Rep. Anderson fears that we're actually 'short of carbon dioxide for the needs of plants,' since concentrations of the gas were far higher 'at the time of the dinosaurs, and they did quite well.'
- Fun fact! The dinosaurs died.
- Fun fact 2! Rep. Anderson is a retired science teacher. Maybe he taught... chemistry...?
- Short track: Just a few hours ago, the Ohio House (39 D/60 R) finally pushed through the state's most recent attempt at voter suppression. Senate Bill 238 -- which passed on party-line votes in both the House and the Senate (10 D/23 R) -- will shorten the early voting period to eliminate the "golden week," during which voters can register and cast ballots at the same time. The House also passed Senate Bill 205, which ends the practice of local election boards sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications. Both bills will almost certainly be signed into law by Gov. Kasich.
- Medicaid expansion slalom: While lawmakers in the GOP-controlled New Hampshire state Senate (11 D/13 R) are moving towards an agreement on Medicaid expansion with the the Democratic House (217 D/178 R) and governor, lawmakers in Arkansas are fighting to reauthorize the "private option" expansion that the GOP-controlled legislature already supported last year. Without supermajority support in both chambers (the holdup is in the House [48 D/51 R/1 G]), funding for state's private option to Medicaid expansion will get yanked, and over 100,000 low-income Arkansans would lose their newly-attained coverage.
- Fun fact! While Arkansas requires three-fourths of both legislative chambers to approve all appropriations, a simple majority can override a gubernatorial veto.
- Cross-country bigotry: Even as a Kansas state Senate Republican single-handedly killed that state's bill to allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples, the Arizona Senate (13 D/17 R) passed a similar bill on a party-line vote. A Tennessee lawmaker abandoned his own same-sex couple service refusal legislation on Tuesday.
- Men's and women's doubles: On Monday, the Indiana state Senate (13 D/37 R) passed HJR 3, the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. However, because of some changes to the measure and procedural quirks, the amendment is ineligible to appear on the ballot before 2016, and only then after it re-passes both chambers of the legislature in its current form.
- District line-drawing: The Indiana state Senate has yet to schedule a committee hearing on legislation that would take redistricting out of the legislature's hands and deliver it to a bipartisan commission. (The bill passed the House in late January.) Surely Arnold Schwarzenegger's support of the measure -- though tepid -- will propel it forward.
- Choice stealing: Lawmakers in Alabama are pushing a raft of anti-choice legislation, including one bill that would prohibit abortions after about six weeks and another that would make felons out of doctors performing abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Yet another would increase the waiting period between seeing a doctor and the performance of the procedure from 24 to 48 hours.
The House and Senate Committees on Transportation, Highways and Public Works met jointly February 17 to consider Design-Build as a construction method for major transportation projects throughout the state.
The House Environmental Matters Committee will meet February 21 to discuss H.B. 718, which would create a $0.05 disposable plastic bag fee for customers.
The Senate General Laws Committee held a hearing February 18 to discuss S.B. 750 which protects employees from being required to disclose their user names or passwords for social networking accounts.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Mining and Energy Commission met February 18. The Commission is tasked with developing and implementing a regulatory program for the management of oil and gas exploration and development activities.
The House Education Committee will hold a hearing February 19 to consider H.B. 1214, which requires the Department of Education to provide for an independent study and analysis of the potential financial, fiscal and economic impacts of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards to be completed.
The House Finance, Ways and Means Committee will meet February 19 on H.B. 1743, which encourages the acquisition of energy efficient and alternative fuel state vehicles.
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee held a hearing February 17 to consider H.B. 17, which specifies that a provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service must disclose a record or other information pertaining to a customer, including real-time location data, to an investigative or law enforcement officer when issued an administrative subpoena during a criminal investigation.