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PAR Calls Hijacked Bill Abuse of Process

The Senate is abusing the legislative process by totally reworking a House bill (HB 140) to mirror a controversial Senate bill (SB 105) in order to limit debate on the measure that would shrink the state’s Rainy Day Fund. The Senate bill (and now the House bill) would lower the cap on the Rainy Day Fund and enable legislators to restore $194 million in budget cuts when they meet again in January.

SB 105 sailed through the Senate last week and was headed to the House for deliberation. Meanwhile, the House sent HB 140 to the Senate. That bill would have excluded federal disaster relief assistance from the formula that sets the ceiling on the state’s Rainy Day Fund, thus preventing a huge jump in the fund next year. The Senate Finance Committee then amended the House bill to reflect the SB 105 proposal to further lower the cap on the fund. The amended bill is expected to be passed by the full Senate today and either be approved on the House floor or move to conference committee for resolution. This maneuver completely avoids debate in House committee and subjects the bill to only very limited floor debate.

This proposal was objectionable before it was shepherded through the process via hijacking. The state’s new economic reality more than ever calls for stable and sizeable reserves. To reduce the fund now in order to restore cuts ignores the fiscal problems that lie ahead. To enact the change with a move like this circumvents the deliberative process by which our laws should be made.

If this bill makes its way to the Governor it should be vetoed.

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