We are over halfway through the 2021 legislative session and have seen 529 bills introduced so far. Monday marks day 66 of the 120-day session. Many observers are hopeful the legislature may adjourn a couple weeks early as leadership has indicated they would like to finish up by Memorial Day, if possible. However, with a number of big issues still pending and a couple still yet to be introduced, Memorial Day seems optimistic.
This week was budget week in the House. Representatives drafted 93 amendments to the Long Bill. However, only 18 were approved adding an additional $55.4 million to next year’s budget. Twelve of those amendments also passed the Senate, including one adding an additional $3 million to the Body-worn Camera Grant Program. While the vote to pass the Long Bill in the Senate was nearly unanimous – 32 to 1 – the vote in the House was nearly party-line – 41 to 23 – with only one Republican voting yes. The Joint Budget Committee will spend next week resolving the differences between the Senate and House versions. The Long Bill will then go back to each chamber for a final vote before moving to the Governor for his consideration.
On Thursday, the CSPA Board of Directors took positions on a number of bills. The Board voted to change the CSPA position on SB 174 concerning peace officer credibility disclosures from amend to monitor. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended SB 174 to remove allegations. This was our major concern and as a result, with the amendment adopted, we will monitor the bill going forward. The Board also voted to oppose HB 1246 that directs PERA to divest from fossil fuel companies. The role of PERA is to maximize returns for its members. As a result, the CSPA does not believe the legislature should dictate what PERA can invest in. HB 1246 is calendared to be heard Monday in the House Finance Committee where, if things go as anticipated, it will be postponed indefinitely. Finally, the Board took a monitor position on HB 1250 concerning measures to address law enforcement accountability. HB 1250, the second bill making changes to Senate Bill 20-217, expands the peace officer personal liability components to state troopers and makes additional changes to SB 20-217. HB 1250 is calendared to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Only 55 days until the General Assembly is required to adjourn sine die.