June 16, 2010

Thanks for another term

The Express-Star

— I have to start off this week by thanking the voters of House District 65 for allowing me to serve another two years as your State Representative.  

I was re-elected automatically last Wednesday at 5 pm due to no one else filing for the position.

This is an overwhelming feeling of humbleness that you trust me with representing our area at the State Capitol and I will do my best to serve your needs and reflect the views of our area on issues.

There has been discussion over the two weeks on issues which were included in legislation without the knowledge of most legislators. This happens too often in the final days of the session.  

One good example is a conference committee report which was presented two hours before the constitutional time to adjourn. The bill was modified and the new version sent to the members by email 20 minutes before the vote, but not updated on our calendars which we often use to read bills.  

This extra provision would have prevented fire departments who charge an emergency medical response fee from doing this; therefore it would have bankrupted many of those and shut down their service.  

Fortunately, it was caught after the House voted on it, but before the Senate could pass it.  

One person on the sign-out sheet also said the author never told him about these changes, so that hurts the trust we have with each other to not attempt something sinister in a bill.

Things such as this were often criticized by the minority party when the Democrats were in charge.  Now that the roles have reversed, unfortunately the policies on this process have not changed.  

I hope we will enable policies to do away with the current conference report system which allows the author complete control over language in a bill and go to a committee system to allow the members to meet, read the bills in advance and have a legitimate discussion.  

This will also help on the "sweetheart deals" which are included in bills and which we see after the fact.  By procrastinating until the final week on bills, this gives the authors too much power and ability to slip in ideas which might be harmful for many of our citizens.  

I will work with the new leadership to develop new standards to slow down the system and allow for a fair hearing on bills over the summer and hopefully implement these ideas next session.