The new year rang in with every shrieking cries of alarm over a budget deficit that some of the more dramatic put at over $500 million. This led to a great deal of weeping and gnashing of teeth about the apocalyptic budget shortfalls. However, in the end, it came down to the in-home care providers being the ones who were hit hardest.
Sen. Ryan Silvey’s idea to scrape the funds from other accounts and fill in the funds taken from in home was noteworthy in two ways: 1) It drew praise from Sen. Ron Richard whom he has been in a very public feud with, and 2) it places a great deal of responsibility in the Commissioner of the Office of Administration Sarah Steelman to manage those funds.
With the current state of relations between the Governor and the Senate, it’s questionable whether his plan would have been as well-received without the high level of confidence this OA Commissioner inspires in the legislature.
Steelman has been the most highly regarded cabinet appointment, but now it seems that high regard has helped shape public policy in a real way.
Speaking of the Governor’s legislative relations: There was a pretty credible story that something along the lines of the Governor telling a prominent senator that he would have the House kill SB 43 if another bill passed by the House didn’t start moving in the Senate.
Well, there was no ambiguity about who runs the House after Monday, when the Speaker brought his caucus to a tough vote in passing SB 43 without any amendments sending it onto the Governor and missing the Governor’s annual BBQ.
An interesting legislative strategy seemed to be employed to allow a half dozen amendments to be offered and let the opposition drive votes to the bill. For weeks, many have wondered if there were 82 votes for the bill. By the time the Speaker was done, the bill passed with 98 votes.
In a good-natured sign, the Governor sent over the uneaten BBQ to the House so they didn’t have to stop for dinner.
Speaking of the Governor, the MONA amendment that was offered and then withdrawn brings to mind the very courageous stand that he made on SJR 39 last year. He was in the middle of a primary at the time and it was not an easy decision, but one history seems to judge favorably.
Speaking of that MONA amendment Rep. Kevin Engler offered, it was captivating to watch the world change before right before your eyes as evidenced by the people’s elected representatives.
There were a handful of legislators grousing about the amendment being a stunt, but what a short sighted take. Simply having that debate was moving the issue forward. When Engler first entered the General Assembly, there is no way that amendment would have been allowed to be offered.
Change comes slowly, but Engler has a commitment to have a vote next session. I predict that it passes the House and that it likely wouldn’t happen without the measured and effective way it was handled Monday night.
Lastly, it’s always bizarre to listen to Republicans, who at Lincoln Day tout fewer laws and less government, complain that the legislature isn’t passing enough laws or growing enough government.
Looks like due to the session stalling earlier a PQ will be necessary to pass couple high-profile bills. While Republicans always have more than enough votes to PQ a bill on abortion, I’d look to Sens. Denny Hoskins, Bill Eigel, and Paul Wieland to see if a PQ can pass on other non-abortion legislation.