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Florida House Bill 141

 

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House Bill 141, Expand the number of bottles craft distilleries can sell: Passed 114 to 2 in the state House on April 26, 2017 and passed 37 to 0 in the state Senate May 5, 2017

 

To allow craft distilleries to sell six individual containers of each product to customers per year from their gift shop. Currently, craft distilleries can sell two individual containers of each product per customer.

 

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Colorado Senate Bill 301

 

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Senate Bill 301, Repeal and change certain energy-related programs: Passed 18 to 17 in the state Senate on May 10, 2017 and failed in the state House on May 10, 2017

 

To repeal certain energy-related programs, including the wind for schools grant program, the renewable energy and energy efficiency for schools loan program, certain programs for which the Colorado energy office is responsible, the green building incentive pilot program, the Colorado Clean Energy Finance Program Act. The bill removes certain responsibilities of the Colorado energy office and transfers others. One program change removes certain authorities related to energy-specific license plates to a nonprofit corporation, Natural Capitalism Solutions. The bill would increase the registration fee on electric motor vehicles.

 

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Arizona Senate Bill 1293

 

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Senate Bill 1293, Remove licensing requirements for small vocational training programs: Passed 29 to 0 in the state Senate on February 20, 2017 and 43 to 12 in the state House on April 20, 2017

 

To exempt private instructional programs that have fewer than 40 in-class or online hours and charge less than $1,000 from state licensing requirements.

 

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Wisconsin Assembly Bill 10

 

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Assembly Bill 10, Consider Obamacare legislation: Failed 35 to 62 in the state Assembly on June 22, 2017

 

To require the Committee on Assembly Organization to consider state legislation that would codify the health insurance regulations contained in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

 

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West Virginia Senate Bill 176

 

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Senate Bill 176, Withdraw mandates for screening of certain diseases: Passed 33 to 0 in the state Senate on February 15, 2017

 

To repeal state laws mandating detection of tuberculosis, high blood pressure and diabetes.

 

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Virginia Senate Bill 1470

 

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Senate Bill 1470, Reinstate coal production subsidy: Passed 25 to 15 in the state Senate on February 3, 2017 and 68 to 29 in the state House on February 15, 2017*

 

To reinstate a tax credit program for coal production and employment, with a limit of $7.3 million a year. The program would last until 2022.

 

*Note: the governor vetoed this bill and the state Senate failed 20 to 20 to override on April 5, 2017

 

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What Congress Has Left Undone

 

Members of Congress are leaving for a one-week recess to celebrate Independence Day. When they return to Washington, they will have three weeks in July before their August recess. If they aim to tackle all the big items on their agenda, this will be a very busy time.

 

One of the issues that Congress must deal with is raising the debt ceiling. This has been an ongoing fight in recent years, with conservatives asking for a number of concessions for them to go along with increasing the government’s ability to borrow. Conservatives are pressing for more spending cuts in order for them to go along with increasing the debt ceiling, which plays into both unresolved budget issues as well as the start of the annual passage of appropriation, or spending, bills. There are calls from Democrats and the president to exceed spending caps that currently exist, but the House Freedom Caucus members may demand more fiscal discipline.

 

The Senate has yet to pass a budget resolution that will serve as a guide for the appropriations bills that must be passed to keep the government running. In the House, efforts to craft a budget resolution have stalled in the Budget Committee. Conservatives want large cuts in entitlement programs, such as food stamps. More moderate members oppose these efforts. It is unclear whether Chairman Diane Black will be able to find a way to satisfy both wings of the party, or whether this will be another year without a budget resolution.

 

Efforts to deal with the government’s spending will be paramount during July, but some members of Congress also want to work on the issues of tax reform and infrastructure spending. There is no consensus in either body (or in either party) on how to approach those, but the president and Congress have made these issues a priority. That gives both branches of government an incentive to start work on them soon if they want to have legislative victories prior to the end of President Trump’s first year in office. However, failure to pass a budget resolution makes tax reform much more difficult.

 

What do you think the focus of Congress should be in July? Do you want to see the debt ceiling raised? What should federal spending look like? How important is it that work on tax reform and infrastructure spending be started?

 

Tennessee Senate Bill 849

 

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Senate Bill 849, Legalize animal massage therapy: Passed 28 to 0 in the state Senate on April 19, 2017 and 90 to 0 in the state House April 24, 2017

 

To clarify that it is not illegal for someone other than a veterinarian to offer massage therapy for animals.

 

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Pennsylvania House Bill 121

 

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House Bill 121: Mandate opioid abuse curriculum: Passed 196 to 0 in the state House on June 26, 2017

 

To require that students in grades 6 through 12 must be given courses in the prevention of opioid abuse and that the state must develop model curriculum for such instruction.

 

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Ohio House Bill 80

 

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House Bill 80, Allow nonprofits to run summer school food programs: Passed 89 to 4 in the state House on March 15, 2017

 

To permit non-profit organizations to operate summer school food service programs for students eligible for free or reduced school meals in districts that can't afford to run the programs themselves.

 

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North Carolina Senate Bill 24

 

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Senate Bill 24, Legalize restaurant use of outdoor grills: Passed 47 to 0 in the state Senate on April 5, 2017 and 113 to 0 in the state House on May 11, 2017

 

To establish criteria by which restaurants and other food establishments may use outdoor grills to prepare food for customers. Current law prohibits the practice.

 

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New Hampshire Senate Bill 44

 

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Senate Bill 44, Ban common core: Passed 14 to 9 in the state Senate on February 23, 2017

 

To prohibit the state from requiring implementation of common core standards.

 

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Nevada Assembly Bill 462

 

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Assembly Bill 462, To require a voter to provide identification at a polling place under certain circumstances: Passed 25 to 17 in the state Assembly on April 20, 2017 and 14 to 7 in the state Senate on May 19, 2017

 

To prohibit a candidate from holding an elected office if a court declares before the election that the candidate does not meet the qualifications for the office. The bill would also require that a candidate use the address at which the individual actually resides as the address to qualify for an elected office.

 

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Missouri Senate Bill 240

 

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Senate Bill 240, Impose a state licensure mandate on electricians: Passed 33 to 0 in the state Senate on April 6, 2017

 

To create a statewide license for electrical contractors.

 

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Michigan Senate Bill 401

 

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Senate Bill 401, Overhaul school employee retirement system: Passed 21 to 17 in the state Senate on June 15, 2017

 

To replace the current school pension system with one that requires more cost-sharing by new employees, and contains provisions intended to limit state management practices responsible for the $29.1 billion of unfunded liabilities in the status quo system. New employees could choose instead to receive substantial employer contributions to 401(k) accounts. If the overhauled defined benefit component is not properly funded then enrollees would have to pay half the cost of correcting this, and if underfunding exceeds specified levels this option would be closed to new hires.

 

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Iowa House Bill 642

 

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House Bill 642, To suspend the statewide report card for public schools for two years: Failed 42 to 55 in the state House on April 17, 2017

 

Starting with the 2015 school year, the Iowa Department of Education has released report cards for public schools in the state. This amendment to the bill that funds the education department would suspend further report cards until the 2020-21 school year, thereby allowing for two years of data to be collected on a new statewide student assessment.

 

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States Curbing Police Property Seizures

 

Did you know that law enforcement can seize your cash and your property without you being convicted of a crime in many states? This seizure of property, and the forfeiture of it to the government, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. This attention has led legislators in some states to take steps to curtail this practice.

 

Asset forfeiture is when the state takes and keeps someone’s property. Criminal forfeiture comes after a criminal conviction. Civil forfeiture occurs when law enforcement seizes the property of someone who is suspected of a crime, but the property is kept by the state without a criminal conviction. Law enforcement officers say that civil forfeiture is needed to combat crimes like drug dealing, while opponents liken it to legalized theft.

 

The latest state to enact asset forfeiture reforms is Pennsylvania. Legislators originally considered a bill that would require a conviction before seizing property. Ultimately, however, legislators amended the bill to retain the state’s power to retain property without a criminal conviction, but did strengthen the standard for civil forfeiture. The bill also imposes a reporting requirement so the public can know the extent of asset forfeiture in that state.

 

Colorado also enacted civil forfeiture reform this year. That state law increased the standards the state must meet before keeping property and mandated public disclosure of forfeited items. The law also made it more difficult for the state to partner with the federal government on asset forfeiture in order to skirt state restrictions.

 

There are also efforts in other states, such as Texas, to reform their asset forfeiture process.

 

Do you support making it more difficult for state and local governments to keep the property seized by law enforcement without a criminal conviction? Or do you think that asset forfeiture reform hinders the ability of law enforcement officers to do their jobs?

 

North Carolina Senate Bill 145

 

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Senate Bill 145, Penalize 'sanctuary' cities and public universities: Passed 34 to 15 the state Senate on April 26, 2017

 

To create financial penalties for cities and public universities adopting "sanctuary" policies against immigration laws. "Sanctuary cities" would be ineligible to receive distributions from the state highway fund and several other public funds and no longer immune from lawsuits for crimes committed there by illegal immigrants. Public universities with sanctuary policies would lose management and budget independence. The bill would also end an exemption letting law enforcement officers use prohibited ID forms to establish identity or residency.

 

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New Hampshire House Bill 103

 

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House Bill 103, Mandate notice of objectionable course material: Passed 203 to 51 in the state House on February 2, 2017 and 14 to 9 in the state Senate on March 30, 2017

 

To require school districts to provide advance notice to parents and legal guardians of course material involving discussion of human sexuality or human sexual education.

 

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Nevada Assembly Initiated Legislation 1

 

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Assembly Initiated Legislation 1, Approve motor voter initiative: Passed 41 to 0 in the state Assembly on April 5, 2017

 

To automatically register as a voter anyone who obtains or renews a driver’s license.

 

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