After agreement was reached last week on the framework for the overall budget, we have started to see agreements on some of the seven appropriation subcommittee budgets. On Wednesday the Agriculture /Natural Resources and Economic Growth budget bills were passed out of the House Appropriations Committee and today we passed out the Health and Human Services Budget as well as the Standings budget bill. All of these movements bring us closer to adjournment. Although I find it unlikely that we will adjourn by next Tuesday, I feel confident that session will be done by the end of next week.
Part of closing down the session is retirement speeches from colleagues. We heard four retirement speeches this week and all provided opportunities for laughter and tears. Too many great legislators are leaving the house this year and there will be big shoes to fill by their predecessors.
I was supportive, but disappointed in the water quality bill that was passed by the house this week. The bill is underfunded, top heavy, and has too little accountability. My colleagues and I offered multiple amendments to increase accountability, reduce the top heaviness by streaming funding to the local level, and require boots on the ground in the formation of watershed communities. All but one of these amendments failed on a party-line vote and left a piece of legislation that has no hope of passing the senate as well as weak support from me. The only reason I supported the bill is that it may be the only piece of legislation that will pass either chamber this year to start addressing this $5 billion issue.
It is my honor and a humbling experience to be the State Representative for our community. I appreciate the messages and correspondence I receive from people in the District. You can always contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-281-3221.