Thursday, January 8, 2015

Auld Lang Sine Die edition

New year, new action. A whole slew of state legislatures are already in session, with even more to join them shortly. Some will adjourn in just a few weeks, some in a few months, and some will just keep going until we're stocking up on bubbly for next year's New Years festivities. 

The 11 newly GOP-controlled legislative chambers are just brimming with new Republican members and their Republican New Year's resolutions. Five legislatures with flipped chambers are currently in session, so let's see if they're sticking to their diets.

  • Shoot Free or Die. And Die. Whatever. The new Republican majority in the New Hampshire state House is already falling back into old habits. After taking control of the chamber in 2010, the GOP lifted the ban on concealed weapons in the statehouse, and the new Democratic majority reinstated ban in the House when it flipped in 2012. Re-lifting the ban was among the GOP's very first agenda items, because they've all resolved to increase their things shot tally this year, or something.
    • Actually, with all the hostility within the House GOP, maybe it really would be best for everybody if we all left our guns at home, hm? Yeah, the Republicans' new majority in the 400-seat chamber is already kind of a fractured disaster. 
      • Our story so far: Rep. Bill O'Brien, the Republicans' most recent Speaker, lost his chance to regain his old job when a few dozen of his brethren sided with Democrats to elect Rep. Shawn Jasper, a GOP lawmaker generally regarded as less divisive and more pragmatic than O'Brien.
      • O'Brien's super mature and statesman-esque response? Taking his toys and going home. Or to another office for another GOP caucus that plays by his rules. O'Brien and about 100 of his supporters plan to open a separate office down the street and hold separate caucus meetings and totally be way cooler than that Jasper dweeb.
Seriously, everybody really ought to leave shooty and pointy things out of the mix for a little while.

But what does this mean for 20... I'll show myself out. 

  • 2015 resolutions are for losers: In Minnesota, the 2016 fight for control of the state House and Senate is well under way. A new conservative group (Minnesota Action Network, headed by former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman) is already targeting suburban Democratic legislators with direct mail campaigns as the GOP tries to shore up its fresh House majority in anticipation of a higher-turnout election next year. 

  • All that extra lead will make losing holiday weight tough: Republicans in Colorado have already introduced a bill repealing the state's ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, which may pass the newly-minted GOP state Senate but could face a bleak future in the House (Democrats control it by three seats). 

  • Taking a little more me time: The new outright GOP majority in the New York state Senate (and the still-Democratic Assembly) is in low gear until Gov. Cuomo's State of the State address, which usually kicks off session but was postponed until Jan. 21 because of the death of the governor's father. 

  • Maine goals: Newly-reelected Gov. Paul "thank you Eliot Cutler" LePage has laid out two of his top priorities for state lawmakers: gutting the state's income tax and slashing welfare for needy families any and every way he can. The measures may survive the newly GOP-controlled state Senate, but the Democratic majority in the House make these proposals long shots, at best. 

Other hopes and dreams for the new year:

  • Learn a new language, or turn a pizza into awesomeNew Mexico's new GOP House majority won't have a chance to flex its muscle until session convenes on January 20, but there's already plenty of chatter about so-called "right to work" legislation and measures aimed at raising the minimum wage. So here are a couple of coming attractions you may not have heard about yet.
    • But won't somebody please think of the children? One lawmaker wants high schoolers to be able to count a computer programming language class as satisfying the "language other than English" requirement. Like French or Arabic, but without all that "communicating with other human beings and understanding other cultures" crap.
    • Another lawmaker wants to establish an official state children's song
How can you turn pizza into awesome?
How can you make macaroni sing?
How can you make your hamburger blossom?
The secret is to add just one more thing...
Green chile! Green chile!
Everything is better with green chile. cetera.

If my macaroni starts to sing, I'm leaving. And probably checking into rehab.

  • Keeping your priorities straight: College football is sacred in Alabama (and yes, in other parts of the South, too -- stop yelling, southerners). So, obviously, the University of Alabama at Birmingham caused a major uproar when it cancelled the school's football program late last year. One state representative plans to fix everything by introducing legislation requiring UAB to bring back the Blazers. 
    • Fun fact! This wouldn't be the first time the Alabama legislature has gotten involved in college football. In 1948, lawmakers threatened to withhold school funding if Alabama and Auburn refused to play each other in the Iron Bowl.
This shocks no one who's attended an SEC school. (Go Hogs!)

  • Somebody should have had himself a DryuaryKentucky GOP state Sen. Brandon Smith hit that session-opener reception a little too hard, and then he rocketed home at 20 mph over the speed limit. Oops
    • Smith, who was arrested and charged with a DUI, is generally a foe of legislation benefiting the alcohol industry. In case you were wondering. Which you probably weren't.
Bourbon's revenge!

  • If this guy resolved to be less of a bigoted douche... try again next year? An Oklahoma lawmaker claimed earlier today that the Council on American-Islam Relations is "'the same as Hamas -- period'" and called on the state chapter to "condemn" certain sections of the Quran that he claims "'make[] it obligatory to commit violence against non-Muslims.'" CAIR-OK executive director Adam Soltani pointed out that the passages were taken out of context and compared the GOP representative's interpretation of the verses to "those who used Bible verses to justify slavery."
    • Fun fact! This is the same lawmaker who called Islam "a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out" last fall.
      • While we're crapping all over holy texts, maybe someone should ask this dude to condemn those rather genocidal sections of Deuteronomy. And all that stoning 'putting to death' in Leviticus 20, too, just for kicks.

I've resolved to end all of my missives on shiny, happy notes this year. And to avoid cheap puns in my titles.



The National Conference of State Legislatures will hold its Executive Committee and LSCC January 8-10 at the Intercontinental New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies will hold its Winter Meeting January 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 


The Legislature convened for the 2015 legislative session January 5. 
The General Assembly convened for the 2015 legislative session January 7. 
The Task Force on Cadmium in Children's Jewelry met January 5 to determine legislative recommendations for the 2015 legislative session. 
Governor Dannel P. Malloy (D) gave his State of the State address January 7. 
The General Assembly convened for the 2015 legislative session January 7. 
The Council convened for the 2015 legislative session January 7. 
The Pollution Control Board will meet January 8 for a hearing regarding proposed amendments to air quality regulations. 
John Bunsta (D) lost to John Kooiker (R) in the January 6 special election for House District 4.  
Governor Steve Beshear (D) gave his State of the Commonwealth address January 7. 
The General Court adjourned January 6 before reconvening for the 2015 legislative session January 7. 
The Legislature convened for the 2015 legislative session January 6. 
The Legislature convened for the 2015 legislative session January 6. 
The General Assembly convened for the 2015 legislative session January 7. 
The Legislature convened for the 2015 legislative session January 5. 
The House Business and Labor Committee will meet January 8 to consider H.B. 78, which clarifies a vehicle owner's privacy rights for event data recorders. 
The Legislature convened for the 2015 legislative session January 7. 
Governor-elect Pete Ricketts (R) will be sworn in as Governor January 8. 
The General Court conveneed for the 2015 legislative session January 7. 
The Legislature is will convene for the 2015 legislative session January 7. Meghan Pudeler at
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) delivered the State of the State address January 7. 
The Legislature convened for the 2015 legislative session January 6. 
Governor Jack Dalrymple (R) presented the State of the State address January 6. 
The General Assembly convened for the 2015 legislative session January 5. 
The General Assembly convened for the 2015 legislative session January 6. 
The General Assembly convened for the 2015 legislative session January 6. 
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Senate Bill 1met January 7 to discuss the 2015 Ethics Reform Act, making changes to the state ethics code for public officials. 
Governor Dennis Daugaard (R) will be sworn into his second term January 10.
The Health Reform Oversight Committee met January 6 to receive an update on the health care exchange, the health care exchange website, operational costs of the exchange and to discuss the All Payer Waiver. 
The Legislature convened for the 2015 legislative session January 7. 
The House and Senate voted to select the Governor by a secret-ballot vote during a joint session January 7, as neither gubernatorial candidate received more than 50% of the vote during the 2014 election. 
A special election took place January 6 to fill vacancies in House District 63 and House District 34. 
The Legislature convened for the 2015 legislative session January 5. 
Governor Matt Mead's (R) inauguration was held January 5.

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