Dec 9th was the deadline to file bills in both the House and the Senate. Now the legal and research staff will begin preparing the actual language of the bills to be considered in the coming session. Many of the bills will be similar or identical. Several people have asked me what will be the big topics of debate this session. Here are a few of the bills that will garner much of the headlines.
Medical lawsuit reform will be the number one agenda item in the House. This is a bipartisan issue since Governor Henry is also for this issue. In his second State of the State speech he said that he wanted Texas style plus reform to our court system. This is a pretty dramatic statement coming from a former Trial Lawyer of the Year recipient. A bill meeting those standards passed the House last year, but stalled in the Senate.
Another big issue will be the Tax Payers Bill of Rights or TABOR. This is a formula that is used to limit the growth of state government and spending. This measure was first passed in Colorado , but since then has been modified. There is an initiative petition that is seeking to put this on the 06 ballot. If there are enough signatures early in session from voters, then this issue may be decided at the polls.
The recent death of 2 year old Kelsey Briggs has also brought about a spate of bills that deal with DHS. Some of the bills deal with reforming DHS and the case worker system. Other bills focus on trying to give added protection to abused children.
Another tragedy that has resulted in bills being filed to change the law was the death of Caitlin Wooten. She was killed by the same man who had recently kidnapped and threatened her mother. However, the man was out on bail when he actually committed the crime against Caitlin. These bills deal with reforming the bail system and allowing the judge to consider other circumstances in denying bail.
Several bills will also deal with protecting our society against sexual predators. They will try to close some loopholes dealing with sex offenders that have been released after serving their time. A couple of bills will make sure that the offender is tracked more carefully using both a GPS system and reforming local registration. One bill would require they take a lie detector test at least once a year while under supervision.
As always the appropriation process will be a source of tremendous work and compromise. Agencies are already asking for supplemental appropriations to finish the year. The economic outlook is still good; however the closing of the GM plant in OKC will have a chilling effect on economic growth. Much of the impact will be felt more in the next fiscal year, however.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please contact me at my office at the Capitol at 405-557-7384. You can also reach me at my home in Goodwell. I am there most of the time and travel to the Capitol for meetings one or two days a week.
Boise City News