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Nevada Senate Bill 111: Allow unscheduled audits of state agencies

 

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Senate Bill 111, Allow unscheduled audits of state agencies: Passed 21 to 0 in the state Senate on February 22, 2017

 

To give the Chair of the Executive Branch Audit Committee unilateral authority to direct the Administrator of the Division of Internal Audits to audit an executive branch agency not slated for audit in its annual plan.

 

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Pennsylvania House Bill 187: Allow wind energy on preserved farmland

 

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Pennsylvania House Bill 187, Allow wind energy on preserved farmland: Passed 192 to 4 in the state House on May 10, 2017

 

To allow farmers who are enrolled in the commonwealth’s farmland preservation program to grant right-of-ways for wind energy systems.

 

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Missouri Senate Bill 182: Ban union preference on government contracts

 

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Senate Bill 182, Ban union preference on government contracts: Passed 23 to 9 in the state Senate on February 16, 2017

 

To prevent the state or local governments from requiring or giving preference to bidders for public works projects who are parties to union contracts, or discriminating against those who are not, for any project involving taxpayer funding.  Currently there is a 50% state funding threshold for the non-discrimination provisions to kick in.

 

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Michigan Senate Bill 249: Ban government, school district discrimination against charter schools

 

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Senate Bill 249, Ban government, school district discrimination against charter schools: Passed 25 to 13 in the state Senate on May 23, 2017

 

To prohibit a school district or local government from refusing to sell property to a charter or private school, or taking other actions designed to keep these potential conventional public school competitors from using property for a lawful educational purpose. Prohibited actions could also include imposing deed or zoning restrictions. A number of local governments and conventional school districts have adopted such restrictions in the past.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Michigan Senate Bill 249!

 

Legislators Busy Overriding Governor’s Vetoes in North Carolina

 

Last November, North Carolinians sent a Democratic governor and a heavily Republican legislature to Raleigh. This partisan split has led to some big disagreements on policy during the current legislative session.

 

Governor Roy Cooper has not been shy about saying where he thinks legislators are going wrong. In return, legislators have felt free to pass legislation without input from the governor (Republicans have a veto-proof majority in both houses of the General Assembly).

 

So far, the governor has vetoed four bills. Legislators have promptly overridden all four vetoes:

 

House Bill 100, Show political party labels of judge candidates on ballot: Passed 65 to 51 in the House on February 22 and 32 to 15 in the Senate on March 6. Governor vetoed on March 16. Veto override passed 74 to 44 in the House on March 22 and 32 to 15 in the Senate on March 23.

 

To print superior and district court judge candidates' party affiliations on voter ballots. Elections for these judgeships used to be partisan until 1996 for superior court and 2001 for district court. This bill would repeal state law making them nonpartisan. Similar legislation passed in December 2016 to make North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals elections partisan.

 

House Bill 239, Cut the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12: Passed 71 to 42 in the House on March 9 and 30 to 13 in the Senate on April 11. Governor vetoed on April 21. Veto override passed 73 to 44 in the House and 34 to 15 in the Senate on April 26.

 

To reduce the size of the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12. The bill would do that by abolishing the next three incumbent judges' seats that become vacant.

 

Senate Bill 68, Create new bipartisan elections and ethics board: Passed 49 to 0 in the Senate on March 21 and 68 to 42 in the House on April 6. Governor vetoed on April 24. Veto override passed 33 to 15 in the Senate on April 24 and 75 to 44 in the House on April 25.

 

To merge the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission into a new "Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement," which would have four Democrat members and four Republican members. The governor would appoint members from lists of nominees given him by the state party chairs.

 

House Bill 467, Limit damage awards for hog farm odors and other disturbances: Passed 68 to 47 in the House on April 10 and 30 to 19 in the Senate on April 26. Governor vetoed on May 5. Veto override passed 74 to 40 in the House on May 10 and 30 to 18 in the Senate on May 11.

 

To limit damage awards for when bad smells, noises, etc. from hog farms, livestock, poultry farms, tree harvesting operations, etc. interfere with people's private enjoyment of their own property. The bill would set compensation for a "nuisance disturbance" to the reduction in the property's fair market value caused by the disturbance, and cap it at fair market value.

 

What do you think of the dispute between the governor and legislators? Was the governor right to veto these bills? Or are you glad that the General Assembly override his vetoes?

 

Iowa Senate Bill 481: To bar cities from enacting "sanctuary city" policies

 

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Senate Bill 481, To bar cities from enacting "sanctuary city" policies: Passed 32 to 15 in the state Senate on April 12, 2017

 

To prohibit cities and counties from banning their law enforcement officers from collecting information regarding an individual’s immigration or citizenship status and providing that information to the federal government.

Citizens and officials may file a complaint with the state attorney general against any local government that imposes a ban. The state may then withhold money from that government until it complies.

 

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Colorado Senate Bill 040: Change rules governing public disclosure of government documents

 

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Senate Bill 040, Change rules governing public disclosure of government documents: Passed 35 to 0 in the state Senate and 39 to 26 in the State House on May 10, 2017 

 

To alter the reasons why a custodian of records may deny a request to examine public records. The bill would allow custodians of records to deny requests if the record related to physical or digital infrastructure in specific ways, including details of vulnerabilities. The bill also clarifies when a custodian must provide records in digital formats to those requesting the records.

 

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Arizona House Bill 2406: Limit county authority to acquire land within a city or town

 

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House Bill 2406, Limit county authority to acquire land within a city or town: Passed 51 to 7 in the state House on February 16, 2017 and 16 to 14 in the state Senate on May 4, 2017

 

To require that a management agreement agreed to by a city or town be in place before a county is allowed to acquire land in that city or town.

 

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Florida House Bill 305: Allow officers to review body camera footage

 

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House Bill 305, Allow officers to review body camera footage: Passed 116 to 0 in the state House on March 30, 2017 and 38 to 0 in the state Senate on March 19, 2017

 

To allow a law enforcement officer to review footage from their body camera before writing a report or providing a statement. This bill does not apply to an officer’s duty to disclose information necessary to secure a crime scene or identify a suspect or witness.

 

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North Carolina House Bill 2: Broaden property tax exemption of disabled veterans

 

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House Bill 2, Broaden property tax exemption of disabled veterans: Passed 116 to 0 in the state House on March 29, 2017

 

To increase the annual property tax exemption of homes owned by disabled veterans or their unmarried surviving spouses from the first $45,000 in property valuation to the first $100,000. The bill would have the state reimburse local governments for lost property tax revenues from the change. In addition, the bill would give an unlimited property tax exemption to unmarried surviving spouses of fire, rescue, and police officers killed in the line of duty.

 

Comment below to share what you think of North Carolina House Bill 2!

 

 

Colorado Senate Bill 300: Order study of health insurance options for high-risk individuals to be conducted by health insurance commissioner

 

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Senate Bill 300, Order study of health insurance options for high-risk individuals to be conducted by health insurance commissioner: Passed 35 to 0 in the state Senate on May 10, 2017 and 40 to 25 in the state House on May 10, 2017

 

To direct the commissioner of insurance to study options for providing health insurance to people who pose high risks for insurers. The bill would require the study to examine ramifications for providing that insurance, including impact on business and consumers, federal rules, options for funding, financial sustainability, and other considerations.  The bill would require the study be produced for the joint budget committee and other committees before October 1, 2017.

 

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Florida House Bill 647: Dissolve the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission

 

 

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House Bill 647, Dissolve the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission: Passed 118 to 0 in the state House on April 28, 2017

 

To abolish the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission (PTC) and require the PTC to liquidate all assets and satisfy all obligations/debts by the end of 2017. The PTC is an independent special district created to regulate the operation of taxicabs, limousines, vans, basic life support ambulances, and wrecker services in Hillsborough County.

 

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West Virginia House Bill 2303: Increase littering fines

 

 

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West Virginia House Bill 2303, Increase littering fines: Passed 95 to 3 in the state House on February 20, 2017

 

To increase the fines and community service hours for littering.

 

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Nevada Senate Bill 45: Remove requirement for state inspection of public university buildings

 

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Senate Bill 45, Remove requirement for state inspection of public university buildings: Passed 21 to 0 in the state Senate on February 22, 2017

 

To eliminate the requirement that the State Public Works Division periodically inspect all buildings at the State universities. All buildings and physical plant facilities owned by any part of the Nevada System of Higher Education would be exempt from the requirement of periodic state inspections.

 

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Iowa House Bill 134: To prohibit local governments from limiting the number of unrelated people who can share rental housing

 

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House Bill 134, To prohibit local governments from limiting the number of unrelated people who can share rental housing: Passed 43 to 6 in the state Senate on April 11, 2017

 

To prohibit local governments from regulating or banning rental housing based on whether the renters in a unit are related to each other.

 

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What’s in the Trump Budget?

 

President Trump released his budget proposal this week. As may be expected from someone who promised to shake up Washington, his spending plan outlines some big changes to federal spending.

 

One of the major differences between Trump and previous presidents involves entitlement programs. These are programs such as Medicaid and welfare that do not require an annual appropriation from Congress. Instead, if you qualify for them, you are entitled to receive them, and the federal government must find money to pay. Over the next ten years, the president’s budget lays out major alterations to these programs that could result in some big savings:

 

Medicaid – $880 billion. These reductions come from ending the expanded Medicaid matching rate for childless adults that was put in place by the Affordable Care Act. The budget also assumes that states will be given a capped amount of money per enrollee starting in 2020 (right now, states receive a matching rate for every person on Medicaid with no cap).

 

Food stamps – $191 billion. This assumes savings from allowing states to impose work requirements on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan (SNAP) recipients.

 

TANF - $21.6 billion. The budget calls for reducing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to states as well as eliminating the contingency fund that states can access if there is more demand for the program.

 

For some programs, such as Medicaid, the spending projected by the Trump budget is a reduction in the future growth of the program. That is, there is a certain baseline spending growth that is assumed right now. Trump’s budget offers policy recommendations that would alter this baseline, reducing future growth. For other programs, such as SNAP, the Trump budget projects actual spending to be lower in 10 years (you can find more detailed charts on this here).

 

While entitlement programs would face reductions and many federal agencies would see their budgets reduced, there are a few increases built into the budget. The Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs would receive increases.

 

It should be remembered, however, that this budget proposal will not necessarily have any real effect. As we wrote in a previous blog post:

 

"Even after the president submits his budget, this does not mean that his spending plan will go into effect. Under the federal budget procedure, the president submits a budget, but Congress must pass its own budget resolution. The congressional budget resolution may or may not incorporate what the president wants to see happen. Each chamber passes its own resolution, and these two versions must be reconciled by the two chambers."

 

The president’s budget is more like a vision of where he thinks federal spending should proceed over the next decade. It does not mean that spending will actually follow along those lines. Congress has the power to determine funding levels for both discretionary programs (like defense) and make policy changes for entitlement programs (like Medicaid). Only action by the legislative branch can alter the direction of federal spending.

 

What do you think of the president’s budget proposal? Do you like that he has called for a reduction in these programs? Or do you see his priorities as being too draconian for the poor?

 

Wisconsin Senate Bill 15: Require legislation for expensive regulations

 

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Senate Bill 15, Require legislation for expensive regulations: Passed 19 to 14 in the state Senate on May 2, 2017

 

To mandate that any regulations that impose a cost of $10 million or more over a two-year period can only be implemented upon passage of legislation. The bill also requires more oversight from legislators during the writing of new regulations.

 

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Tennessee Senate Bill 1152: Designate “Celebrate Freedom Week”

 

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Senate Bill 1152, Designate “Celebrate Freedom Week”: Passed 72 to 8 in the state House on April 24, 2017

 

To designate the week in which September 17 falls as “Celebrate Freedom Week," in which the Department of Education will “educate students about the sacrifices made for freedom in the founding of this country and the values on which this country was founded.”

 

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Virginia Senate Bill 1359: Mandate lead testing in schools

 

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Senate Bill 1359, Mandate lead testing in schools: Passed 99 to 1 in the state House on February 23, 2017

 

To require school districts develop a plan to test school drinking water for lead, starting in schools built before 1986. If necessary, schools must find a way to remediate water found to have high lead levels.

 

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Pennsylvania House Bill 602: Allow dogs to track wounded game

 

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House Bill 602, Allow dogs to track wounded game: Passed 196 to 0 in the state House on May 10, 2017

 

To allow blood-tracking dogs to track legally wounded deer, bear, and elk.

 

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