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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights – March 15

March 16th, 2011 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Sometimes in life things seem to come full circle. I’ve seen the Legislature respond to problems and put solutions in place only to find out later that the changes made either haven’t worked or have created new problems. So in an effort to fix those things we tend to go right back to where we started.

A case in point is the reworking of the Medicaid law. Over the years the Legislature has put things in place to make it plain how programs would be reimbursed, how certain populations would be eligible for the programs, and other provisions that have sprung out of years of confusing rule-making by the Department of Health and Welfare. There were, of course, good reasons for having done that but one of those reasons was not necessarily to save money.

On Tuesday afternoon we had a very large group of people assemble outside the auditorium where there was a joint House and Senate Health and Welfare Committee having a hearing about proposed cuts to Medicaid. It was one of those marathon meetings of which I have attended many. Out of that meeting and in conjunction with negotiations that were taking place behind the scenes, many changes were put into the legislation. On Thursday, one of those things that most folks say is difficult to observe (and some folks say is dangerous) was the writing of legislation by committee. The outcome takes us full circle putting us in exactly the same place we were several years ago. Most of the changes allow the department to make changes by rule rather than having it done by statute.

What was even more interesting about this process was that most people who are concerned with the cuts seem to be pleased with what was done. One of the areas most carefully considered was how the trimming of Medicaid will affect the developmentally disabled. Most around the table thought that we had at least addressed the majority of the concerns. Time will tell.

By now I’m sure that you’ve heard about House Bill 222 which would allow for concealed carry permitted individuals to carry weapons on college campuses. The discussion on that bill spilled over into two days, which is something I had not anticipated. The bill was sent to the floor of the house for further discussion and that too will be a lively one on the house floor. One of the issues that came up in the committee, was just how many law-abiding permit holders already take weapons onto campuses not knowing there are policies in place from the Universities that would prevent them from doing so. Even more alarming is that those folks who do not have concealed weapons permits are also carrying weapons on the campuses. It will be interesting to see how the vote comes out in the house.

We are moving full steam ahead at this point with several budget bills on the agenda for the coming week. The challenge now is to consider all of the house legislation and get it sent to the Senate and then getting all those Senate bills passed (or not) so that we can go home. In the western part of the state the ground is bare which is nowhere near what it looks like in our part of the world. I was commenting to Linda over the weekend that it seems like the weather has tipped over just a bit and that spring just might get here soon. Hold that thought, it’s still freezing every night and the ground is covered with snow.

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