Friday, March 11, 2011
General Session 2011: Last Day Roundup
We concluded the 2011 General Session Thursday. The tempo was remarkably relaxed compared to previous sessions I am told. Here are a couple notable items from the day:
HB 48 - Juvenile Fingerprints
After languishing on the Senate board for a couple weeks due to the fiscal note associated with the bill, money was found to fund the bill and it came up for a vote. Unfortunately, there appeared to be a personal disagreement in the Senate between a senior Senator and my Senate sponsor of the bill. That disagreement manifested itself in the senior member "gutting" the bill with an unfriendly amendment. I was in the room watching and my stomach turned as I realized that all the time and labor put into getting the bill right was about to be wasted. You can watch the proceedings HERE. Fortunately, Senators in support of the bill were able to persuade the sponsor of the amendment to reconsider his actions and HB48 passed the Senate later that day and now awaits the signature of the Governor.
It was debated in our body whether we should borrow bond money to construct several new buildings at our state universities. After analyzing the market dynamics at play, the majority of our body felt that it would be wise to do so at this time rather than defer several years. The reasons being that interest rates are likely headed up as the bond market gets traumatized by municipal defaults and other market trauma on the horizon. We felt that borrowing at 1.5% would not be available much longer. Also, with inflationary forces raising prices on construction materials, it was felt that we could avoid paying more in the future by building now. With the governors approval, the Davis Campus of Weber State University will have a new classroom building to handle its expanding student enrollment.
The education budget is bewildering to say the least and I won't try to explain it here. The bottom line is that education received a 2.2% increase in a year where we cut everything else by the same margins.
Just to make things interesting Friday night, protesters showed up to express their displeasure with HB477. They filled the House gallery and were yelling and singing until security came to reiterate the importance of politeness inside the chamber. Most were quiet thereafter so we could finish our business.
Fortunately, Kim was able to spend the evening with me as we wrapped up. We worked debating and passing bills until midnight. A funny and entertaining vaudeville performance by Mike Noel, Ryan Wilcox, and others followed and we left about 1am to come home.