2020-09-26@04:19:03 GMT
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    By IRIS SAMUELS, Associated Press/Report for America HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana lawmakers may have the ability to vote remotely during the upcoming legislative session, according to new rules proposed by the Joint House and Senate Rules Committee. Republican members of the committee met Thursday to discuss proposed rule changes, including a new rule that would allow state House and Senate members to vote remotely during the upcoming legislative session due to the coronavirus pandemic. Another rule would authorize the majority leaders of the House and Senate to break ties in votes taken by legislative interim committees, which are often comprised of Democrats and Republicans in equal numbers. Republicans hold a majority in the House and Senate. The committee's Democratic...
    This content was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today. In dramatic fashion, the presiding officers of the Maryland General Assembly slammed the door Wednesday night on holding a special legislative session this fall. House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) turned up unannounced at a mock special legislative session organized by progressive groups in Annapolis on Wednesday evening and formally signaled their reluctance to convene before the 2021 session is set to begin in January. Despite hearing entreaties from a crowd of 200 people that the myriad challenges facing the state demand swift legislative action, Ferguson and Jones said they needed more...
    This content was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear testimony on bills surrounding police accountability and reform next week, committee Chairman William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) announced Tuesday evening. “Systemic injustices in policing have plagued our communities for generations and developing the best solutions requires legislators to be thoughtful and purposeful,” Smith said in a statement. “To achieve this, we need participation from all Marylanders to find solutions to heal the relationship between our law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.” Legislative committees routinely hold hearings throughout the interim, when the General Assembly isn’t in session. But bill hearings...
    SACRAMENTO —  It wasn’t good government. But it was probably good politics. A major police reform bill was quietly killed by the Assembly speaker without a house vote on the last night of the legislative session. He used an ages-old tactic aimed at sparing politically vulnerable lawmakers from casting a perilous vote. Call it incumbent protection. The bill would have assured that when a bad cop’s badge is yanked by a police department, he can’t hook on with another law enforcement agency anywhere in California. The measure also would have made it easier for citizens to file civil lawsuits against rogue officers. There was broad public support for the measure — but heavy opposition from officers’ unions, police chiefs and...
    FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers are scheduled to convene on Jan. 5 for next year's legislative session. The calendar for the 30-day General Assembly session was released by legislative officials Thursday. It shows that final adjournment is scheduled for March 30. As usual during an odd-numbered year, the legislative session will have two parts. The first four days in early January will focus on organizational work, such as electing legislative leaders, adopting procedural rules and organizing committees. Bill introductions will also start. After that, lawmakers won't reconvene until Feb. 2 for the second part of the session. The veto recess period is scheduled to begin March 17. During that time, lawmakers commonly return to their home districts while the...
    By STEPHEN GROVES SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's administration on Thursday laid out a plan to spend the bulk of the $1.25 billion in federal funds the state has received to address the coronavirus crisis, but some House lawmakers balked at allocating the money without more input from the legislature. The Republican governor's administration has spent about $114 million in federal funds so far and must expend the rest of the money by December 30 unless Congress extends the deadline. Noem this week laid out a plan to make $400 million available to businesses hurt by the pandemic, and a legislative committee that handles the budget provided some feedback on it. But as lawmakers debate...
    SACRAMENTO —  This was the ideal time — politically and policy-wise — for the Legislature and the governor to authorize loads of extra spending on wildfire prevention and helping victims. But they botched it. Shame on them. The people’s representatives couldn’t get their act together amid internal turmoil to agree on a stripped-down $500-million wildfire appropriation before they were forced by law to adjourn the two-year legislative session at midnight Aug. 31. The shelved wildfire bill was just one of several very important measures that were victimized by legislators fractured by rivalries and bitterness, and a governor apparently spread too thin managing a pandemic and infernos to exert his political muscle in the Legislature. Other major bills that were scuttled...
    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Wednesday laid out a proposal that would make $400 million in federal coronavirus relief funds available to businesses in the state. The state received $1.25 billion in federal funding as part of the CARES Act to address the coronavirus crisis and legislators are conducting public hearings this month for people to weigh in how the funds should be used. Under Noem's plan, South Dakota businesses can qualify for grants of up to $100,000 if they can demonstrate a 25% budget reduction between March and May as a result of COVID-19. “It’s my hope that this proposal will help folks stay open and overcome the unprecedented times we’ve faced these...
    By TOM DAVIES, Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers are preparing to move much of their 2021 legislative session activity out of the Statehouse over coronavirus concerns. A joint House-Senate committee on Wednesday endorsed a plan aimed at allowing the 100-member House hold its floor sessions and committee meetings in the auditorium and conference rooms in a state office building next to the Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis. The 50-member state Senate is planning to keep meeting in its Statehouse chamber but will convert its public gallery into seating for senators in order to allow sufficient distancing when the legislative session starts in January. Plans presented Wednesday would have House committees meet in government center conference rooms that are larger...
    SAN JOSE — A legislative failure in Sacramento has complicated plans for Google’s game-changing transit village proposal in downtown San Jose, a setback that has prompted the city’s mayor to urge lawmakers to set up a special session to address the dilemma. A bill, SB 995, that would have smoothed the pathway to fast-track development of certain major projects in California failed to gain the approval of state lawmakers after time ran out in the hectic final hours of the Legislature’s session on Aug. 31. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Friday requested that the state Legislature convene a special session to take up the measure, which would have created a four-year extension to give projects such as Google’s Downtown...
    Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson. (Maryland Matters/Bruce DePuyt) This content was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today. Members of the Maryland Senate would face a limit on the number of bills they can introduce under a proposal crafted by the chamber’s presiding officer, Sen. Bill Ferguson, and other senior lawmakers. The move is intended to reduce the workload on legislative bill-drafters, who are deluged with requests from legislators, particularly in December and January. The change would also likely lead to shorter committee hearings. Under the proposal, each senator would be allowed to request that 30 bills or resolutions be drafted in a legislative session. They could then submit 25...
    SACRAMENTO —  Legislators are reflective of the people who elect them — not just in ideology but in behavior. That’s the way it was set up and it works — for better or worse. When people communicate through technology rather than in person, inhibitions too often break down and they get testy. Maybe even act like jerks, flinging insults. We see this with email, Twitter and bellicose blogs. But if you’re looking someone in the eye, you tend to smile and mind your manners, perhaps even try some charm and diplomacy. What happened in the California state Senate on the final night of the two-year legislative session Monday was a prime example of machines dispatching decorum and crippling civility. I’ve...
    A legislative plan to raise bills for customers of PG&E and other utility behemoths in California in a quest to combat wildfires — and bankroll an array of pet projects — has been torpedoed and sunk in the state Legislature. The measure failed to receive a vote in the state Senate on the final day of the 2019-2020 legislative session, a marathon of votes and maneuvers that ended early Tuesday morning. AB 1659 was floated as an emergency measure that would have added roughly $1 to the monthly bills for customers of PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric for decades to come. The money would have been used to finance a $3 billion fund to help...
    Republican and Democratic delegates of the Virginia General Assembly will tackle coronavirus pandemic and policing-related issues in a special session starting Tuesday. Democrats are expected to seek a requirement for businesses to provide paid sick leave for employees, and protection for tenants unable to pay their rent during the pandemic. Republicans will prioritize getting children back into public schools, and will focus on protecting businesses from some virus-era restrictions. Both parties will delve into police reform: Democrats are looking to ban law enforcement use of chokeholds and set stricter thresholds for when an officer can resort to deadly force. On their end, Republicans are seeking expanded use of body cameras and tighter hiring standards for new officers. One proposal in...
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's Republican-dominant Statehouse will continue to meet for a special legislative session on Tuesday as they address COVID-19 liability, telemedicine and penalties against protesters. Gov. Bill Lee announced last week that he was convening a special legislative session to address a handful of bills lawmakers failed to advance earlier this year. Lawmakers did pass a sweeping anti-abortion bill before adjourning in mid-June, but the legislation is currently being blocked by a judge from being implemented as it's being legally challenged. Protesters have held demonstrations outside the Capitol for weeks demanding a meeting with Lee to discuss “racial justice” issues, but the Republican has declined, and instead called for law enforcement agencies to review various policies. GOP...
              The special session of Tennessee lawmakers scheduled for the week of August 10 will likely cost Tennessee taxpayers more than $100,000. Legislators were called to the special session by Governor Bill Lee through an August 3 proclamation to address three issues, the first two which could have been addressed during the previous legislative session. The first issue is limiting the COVID-19 liability risk for healthcare providers, businesses and schools operating in a responsible and safe manner. The legislature took up the matter under SB 2381 / HB 2623 when they returned in June from a two-month COVID-19 recess. Each chamber, however, passed a different version of the legislation and a bi-partisan joint Conference...
    Tennessee’s special legislative session likely will cost taxpayers about $153,200. State lawmakers return to Nashville this week for a special session to consider bills providing limited liability protections for businesses, health care workers and schools; expanding telehealth; and amending laws that govern the Capitol grounds. The House is scheduled to meet for four, starting Monday. The minimum time the Legislature could meet and pass a bill would be three days; the state constitution requires a bill to be considered on the floor three times before a vote for passage. It is impossible to know exactly how long the session will last, but it is expected to wrap up within the week. Members of the General Assembly are...
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers are heading back to the Capitol on Monday to address legislation that would provide health care providers, schools and businesses broad protections against coronavirus lawsuits. Republican Gov. Bill Lee announced last week that he was convening a special legislative session to address not only COVID-19 liability but also “telehealth services and laws governing the Capitol grounds.” The GOP-dominated Statehouse failed to advance the proposal earlier this year when negotiations among lawmakers broke down in the hectic waning hours of legislative work. The main dividing line over the liability bill was whether to make its protections retroactive to early March, which the Senate supported and the House opposed. Critics of such legislation argue the legislation...
            by Tyler Arnold  Police officers and criminal justice reform advocates share some common ground going into Virginia’s special session to address policing reform, but the two groups break apart on some of the more controversial reforms. “We are as repulsed by bad police officers … as anyone [else],” Wayne Huggins, executive director of the Virginia State Police Association, told Virginia House members Thursday during the last criminal justice reform hearing ahead of the special session, which convenes Aug. 18. One area of agreement is reforming the state’s decertification process. Current law permits officers to be decertified only if their violation falls under a short list of offenses, which includes a felony conviction, a misdemeanor sex...
    Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal for limited liability protections for Tennessee businesses, schools and health care providers will include limited retroactive protections. A retroactive provision would allow legislation to apply to lawsuits in progress before the law is passed. The constitutionality of retroactive efficacy was a sticking point in debates during the final hours of the legislative session in June. “There is retroactivity in the limited liability protection bill,” Lee told reporters at a news briefing Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol. “The draft of that bill is almost complete, and there is a level of retroactivity.” The administration's bill will be considered by state legislators, along with other bills, when they come back to Nashville for a special...
    BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts House on Wednesday made the rare move of passing an order to suspend the Legislature's own rules and extend the legislative session scheduled to end Friday through January. The move was made as several major bills are still being debated, including police accountability legislation, and a transportation bond bill. “No one can predict what might happen over the next five weeks, much less the next five months,” Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. “While we are cautiously optimistic that we will maintain the gains we have made here in the Commonwealth since the spring, we must remain prepared to address critical issues related to the health, safety and economic well-being...
    DENVER (CBS4) – State Republican lawmakers are asking Governor Jared Polis to call the legislature to the Capitol for a special session. Their hopes are to develop new policies to protect access to education in the midst of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The letter is signed by 36 state senators and representatives. (credit: CBS) “As the school year rapidly approaches, tens of thousands of parents throughout Colorado have entreated us to take action both to ensure the health and safety of their children and to prevent them from falling behind in their education as we deal with this unprecedented crisis,” the group writes in the letter. Parents need concrete, actionable, and flexible options for the 2020-2021 school year. Kids get...
    More than 70 groups signed on to a joint letter demanding Maryland’s legislative leaders and members hold a special session to deal with pandemic-related issues and criminal justice reform. The letter was addressed to Speaker of the House of Delegates Adrienne A. Jones, Senate President Bill Ferguson and members of the Maryland General Assembly. “We remain deeply concerned for the most vulnerable,” the letter said. “Marylanders simply cannot wait until January.” The letter goes on to say that “black, brown, and other marginalized communities confront a tsunami of negative COVID-19 health outcomes, economic freefall including mass evictions, and the relentless denial of their humanity by the police and other pillars of the criminal justice system.” “There is a failure of...
    By MARGERY A. BECK, Associated Press OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts touted Nebraska’s pandemic response and rosier-than-expected revenue outlook in his address to the Legislature on Friday, while pushing for lawmakers to adopt his signature property tax relief and tax incentives packages within the remaining 13 days of the session. “Just as Nebraskans have stepped up to the challenge as we work through this pandemic, we've got to work to get Nebraska's economy thriving," Ricketts said. The Republican governor made a rare second address within the same session, which was suspended in March over fears of spreading the COVID-19 virus. The session resumed Monday. The governor's address came a day after the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board predicted...
    By CASEY SMITH, Associated Press/Report for America INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Legislative Democrats want Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to bring the General Assembly back in a special session as concerns over racial injustice and rising coronavirus cases have created what they say is an immediate need for legislators to reconvene. The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus and the Indiana House Democratic Caucus are requesting a special session in August to consider police reform measures, allow for unrestricted absentee voting and to implement legislative oversight in the distribution of federal COVID-19 relief funds received by Indiana. There's been too little transparency and action taken on these issues so far, Democrats said, and a special session would allow new legislation to take effect before...
    By MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Talk about a rough introduction to the Louisiana Legislature. Louisiana's freshman class of new lawmakers, who took office in January, got little of the glad-handing, party-hopping slow start that traditionally kicks off a regular legislative session. Instead, Gov. John Bel Edwards notified the House and Senate on the opening day of the session in March that Louisiana had its first positive test for the coronavirus. The next few months involved temporary adjournment, the scrapping of bills lawmakers expected to debate and a switch from financial security to the reemergence of state budget woes — all stemming from the COVID-19 disease pandemic. In the House, lawmakers were quickly mourning one of...
    By AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii lawmakers on Friday wrapped up a legislative session upended by the coronavirus pandemic that forced weekslong breaks in proceedings, the state Capitol building to close and some meetings to be held via teleconference. “It’s been incredibly challenging,” said Senate President Ronald Kouchi, a Democrat. “It’s certainly something that none of us has ever faced.” Among the challenges: an estimated $2.3 billion decline in state tax revenue through next June. This prompted lawmakers to raid the rainy day emergency fund, authorize the governor to borrow money from the federal government and look for savings by eliminating vacant job positions. They also faced social and economic crises as the pandemic shut down hotels...
    By SAM METZ, AP/Report for America CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Brian Rippet, a science teacher from Stateline, is furious that Nevada's legislative building will be closed to the public when lawmakers convene for a special session Wednesday to balance the state's budget amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Rippet, who also serves as president of the Nevada State Education Association, won't be in the building. But he isn't going far. He and other teachers plan to line Carson Street outside the Legislature sporting “Red for Ed” face-coverings and standing six feet apart, hoping to deter lawmakers from passing deep cuts to the state schools. Though they will be locked out of the Legislature, teachers like Rippet — as well as...
    CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — As Nevada struggles with nation-topping unemployment and enormous revenue loss facing the state's gambling and hospitality industries, Gov. Steve Sisolak released a report on Monday evening proposing measures to plug the state's estimated $1.2 billion budget shortfall. The report calls for “deep cuts in services and proposals” and says budget balancing efforts addressed in the Legislature's upcoming special session will not include passing any new taxes. “Considering any new revenue streams would require substantial time to setup, administer, and implement, they are not viable as an immediate option to address this emergency situation,” the report says. The Legislature, however, may consider “augmenting existing major revenue sources" by raising taxes. “If the legislature is able to...
    CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — When Nevada lawmakers convene for a special session to address coronavirus-related budget shortfalls, the normally bustling legislative building will be closed to the public. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to prevent the potential spread of the virus, access to the legislative building during the upcoming special session of the Nevada Legislature will be limited to Legislators and essential staff,” Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes announced Friday. The Legislature, Erdoes said, plans to broadcast all committee meetings and floor hearings live and allow Nevada residents to exercise their right to public comment via teleconference and through written comments. “Limited media access” will be allowed, however in her statement, Erdoes did not specify...
    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislators could soon end a legislative session that's been marked by dealing with the COVID-19 economic downturn and challenging Gov. Roy Cooper's orders keeping many businesses closed due to the virus. The House and Senate scheduled floor meetings on Thursday. Senate leader Phil Berger has said he expected it to be the final day for his chamber in the regular annual session that began in April. Republicans in charge of the House also are aiming to leave for an extended period after Thursday. The two chambers have approved distributing $1.6 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds and could agree to move hundreds of millions more before they leave. They've also sent Cooper state government...
    By SAM METZ, AP/Report for America CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Gov. Steve Sisolak agreed Monday to Democrats' request to delay convening a special legislative session until early July to provide the capital more time to develop safety protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “While the Governor expressed concern over moving the date into the next fiscal year, he understands the important need of ensuring the safety of members and staff during a special session in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sisolak's office said in a press release. The announcement comes a week after the Democratic governor suggested he might call for a special session before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Past special sessions...
    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia lawmakers are vowing to take strong action on systemic racism and police reforms during a special legislative session planned in August. Protests have spread across Virginia following the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Marchers have called for sweeping criminal justice reforms, including an end to police brutality and racial injustice. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that state lawmakers are looking at banning chokeholds, boosting police training in excessive use of force, mandating citizen review boards to boost oversight of police misconduct, and rethinking the presence of police in schools. TOP STORIES Evangelical pastors pander to radical Black Lives Matter Seattle anarchists and their lunatic fringe list of demands D.C....
    CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Legislature will not be meeting in a special session later this month after lawmakers said they completed work they needed to accomplish in response to immediate economic and social impacts caused by the coronavirus. House Speaker Steve Harshman and Senate President Drew Perkins said in a joint letter that an anticipated five-day special session expected in late June is no longer necessary, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. “We are confident the Governor will implement our legislative directives addressing the needs of the State without the Legislature meeting in the near term,” the letter said. TOP STORIES Abraham Lincoln monument torched in Chicago: An absolute disgraceful act D.C. mayor sued over Black Lives Matter on street...
    State prosecutors on Thursday added their support for a bill that would help ensure disciplinary actions against officers cannot be later reversed by an outside arbitrator The Oregon District Attorneys’ Association now joins state police chiefs, sheriffs and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in urging Gov. Kate Brown to convene a special session to pass the bill, which has twice failed in regular legislative sessions. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that momentum is growing for lawmakers to pass new police accountability legislation this summer in a special legislative session, as widespread protests against racial injustice and police brutality continue. TOP STORIES Comedian charged with inciting riot in George Floyd protest Seattles autonomous zone is Mad Max movie mayhem come alive Coronavirus...