Legislative Week 4
Week 4 was another busy week under the Gold Dome. The retirement committee has been one of the busiest committees in this legislative session. We have conducted hearings on 10 bills so far. Most have been straight forward, but some get deep into the pension plans, vesting requirements and can have a significant impact on your tax dollars. Most the bills have not been voted out of the committee as we thoroughly review them in the vetting process. Without getting into the weeds too far, one bill alone could have a $340,000,000 annual impact to the plan, which is funded partially by tax dollars. The work on legislation is extremely important part of this committee, but it is not all we do. We are also looking at the entire state pension program. Right now, the state is still using defined benefit plans. These type of plans where changed to define contribution plans by business years ago as they found they could not sustain them. Unfortunately, government can through taxing. This committee is looking at what it would take to make changes including using more 401K plans to give state employees a better retirement and one that does not call for increased taxes. Currently the plan is only funded at 72%, leaving us with an unfunded liability of 28%.
I presented HB 796 to the Judiciary Non-Civil committee. This bill helps our citizens using service dogs by clearly defining what a service animal is and what is not a service animal. The bill has the full support of the committee, but we are working on few minor wording changes before they vote it out. This should happen next week. I also present HB797 in the motor vehicles committee. This is the bill to restore liberty to our citizens by repealing the mandatory helmets for adults riding mopeds, three wheelers and motorcycles. This was a hearing only with no vote scheduled. Having polled the members of the committee there are more than enough votes to pass out of committee and pass out of the house. We are still working to get a hearing with a vote to allow this liberty bill to move forward.
I introduced to bills that have been assigned to committees and will receive hearings soon. The first is one we discussed earlier, that I call No HIPPA for Critters. It was unbelievable that we make animal medical records confidential by law. I guess someone was concerned their dog’s self-esteem would suffer if the other animals found out. Seriously and sadly, this at times as been to the detriment of people who could have benefited from knowing if there was a medical condition they needed to be treated for after an encounter with an animal. Chairman McCall in the Agriculture committee co-sponsored the bill and the hearing will be in his committee so I expect clear sailing on this one. The second bill I dropped this week is to repeal the tax on NEV’s or neighborhood electric vehicles. These are glorified golf carts such as GEM cars that in some locations have actual car tags. They currently are being hit with a $200 tax when they get the new tag. Having the support of the Ways and Means Chairman, this bill should also go through with little opposition and will be the first bill to repeal part of the tax added in the transportation bill last year.
As always, we have many groups and individuals visiting the capitol during the session. Please let me know if you are present and I will make take to meet with you. Thank you for allowing me to serve you.
Legislative Week 4