Props and Disses 2.6.13

By on February 6, 2013

Committee comity is dead in Cheyenne DISS
If time-wasting bills weren’t enough, lawmakers at the state capital have been habitually resuscitating dead legislation for two and three go-rounds. Today is the final day for a bill to be read for the third time in its house of origin. After today, the general session ‘makes the turn’ and heads for the back nine, where passing House bills are taken up in the Senate, and vice-versa.

With no less than 429 pieces of legislation to consider, lawmakers should at least get to feel like they’re clearing their plate a little when a bill gets shot down in committee or voted down on the floor. Not so. At least 11 bills have been resurrected after failing to move on in their original form; some have come back from the dead more than once.

Legislators are usually adept at determining whether a bill has enough merit to at least get out of committee and to a vote of the whole. Amendments are a great way to tweak a bill that has good intent but a few sticky points that threaten to sink it. What is happening in the legislature now is outright chaos. Leadership is nowhere to be found and infighting has reached an all-time high in incivility.

“It’s very unusual. This is the first year I have seen it used so much,” said local House Rep. Keith Gingery. “In the past, occasionally we all agreed we were wrong in killing a bill. We might say, ‘Oh crap, there was something in there we really needed’ and would reintroduce a bill. This year, leadership is having a real hard time with their committees. They are having trouble holding together their coalition. Bills that die in committee are being assigned to a new committee where they think they can find the votes. It’s very unusual and just shows you that this session, more than others, has had a lot of tension and strife.”

This, from a body that once received high praise from the National Conference of State Legislatures for its code of conduct. This, from a body that is as true blue ‘red’ as it gets. There are eight Democrats out of 60 total in the House, none in the Senate. And still lawmakers can’t agree to disagree.

A bill to raise fees for hunting and fishing licenses, for example, is in its third go-round after never making it out of the Travel committee. Rep. Dan Zwonitzer is bringing the bill back for a third time, making subtle tweaks like increasing a resident deer tag by $7 instead of $12. These things should have been done in committee with amendments. Reintroducing new legislation for bills that were already killed is wheel-spinning in bentonite. At press time, third time was not the charm – the bill was beaten back soundly, again, on a 52 to 8 vote.

“When you have one party that has a large majority you end up with factions within that party,” Gingery said. “You have 52 Republicans in the House, that’s true, but in actuality there are different groups within those people.

Year-round school far from dead DISS
Remember when leadership at TCSD No. 1 was floating around the idea of year-round schooling? The pushback was significant enough that school district authorities changed the rhetoric to a “balanced” schedule. When that didn’t fly, the tune sounded more like increasing the hours of a school day. TCSD No. 1 accomplished that, apparently, by delaying the first bell so students could sleep in after research showed teenagers go to bed so late they’re groggy ‘til noon. Poor things.

Don’t hire that Jackson high schooler to run your cash register for July and August just yet. Talk of summer school is in session in Cheyenne where lawmakers have moved along a piece of legislation that would provide financial assistance to schools that want to try year-round education.
House Bill 255, sponsored by Reps. Bob Nicholas R-Cheyenne and Steve Harshman R-Casper, breezed through committee on a 5-2 vote and passed second reading on Monday. The bill will provide $3 million for up to six schools to take part in the pilot program.

Congresswoman goes semi-auto on Prez PREP
Cynthia Lummis is waving the American flag in the face of President Obama’s gun-control plans to resurrect and expand the Clinton-era ban on semi-automatic rifles. The U.S. Representative joined 42 other members of Congress in writing a letter to the Obama urging him to maybe take a second glance at the Second Amendment.

Regarding recent mass shootings that have spurred renewed interest in gun-control, Lummis says, “Restricting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiders won’t solve the problem.” A letter to her constituents also states: “This is a serious issue. Actions taken in the heat of an emotionally-charged moment will nonetheless have long-lasting consequences.”

Reader Comments
Yeah Obama, take another look at the second amendment, especially the part that goes into assault weapons. The extreme simple mindedness of those on the gun debate is a symptom of mental illness. If the mentally ill are no longer allowed to own guns, then most of those currently owning guns(like Lummis) will no longer be able to.

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