By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone
This was supposed to be the year of non-controversy. In that light the press has had a field day saying that the members of the legislature are trying to play it safe in an election year. I find that not to be the case, and we are tackling the difficult issues that come before us.
We had a little bill come before the full House this week that should have been a very non-controversial piece of legislation. Last year we enacted a bill that prohibited the use of debit and credit cards for automated lottery machines. The new historic horse racing, that was authorized last year is done all by electronic machine. In keeping with what we enacted last year, it was thought that we should make it clear that debit and credit cards could not be used in these machines either. The bill came out of the State Affairs Committee very easily but was defeated on the House floor on Friday. After the bill failed, I was discussing it with a member of the State Affairs Committee who changed their vote and opposed the bill. The comment was that a debit card is the same as cash. What I have noticed however, is that there is something about having cash in your hand that is far different from having a piece of plastic with which to spend money. It isn’t the same at all. Cash in the hand makes a link that travels up the arm to the brain.
This past week we also had a joint House and Senate State Affairs Committee hearing where we asked five different agencies to come before the panel to go over the process of negotiated rulemaking that was recently put in to law. We had the Department of Administration, the Department of Environmental Quality, the State Tax Commission, the Department of Fish and Game, and the Department of Health and Welfare make presentations to us. The Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Welfare are the most experienced at doing negotiated rulemaking while the Tax Commission and the Department of Fish and Game are just beginning the negotiated rulemaking process. It was interesting to hear their responses to questions. I think this was a healthy exercise because it put the agencies on notice that the legislature is very much concerned about how the rules get made.
There is also a piece of legislation coming from the Senate having to do with concealed weapons being carried on campus at our universities. This year’s effort has a much different approach than last year’s bill. For example this year the bill is requiring that an individual be at least 21 years of age and must have an enhanced carry permit, which has training requirements. Another sideboard is that there will be some discretion on the part of the university presidents to restrict concealed carry at events of all types at the universities. At this time it is expected that this bill will pass.
As you can see this probably isn’t the year of non-controversy at all. One of the most interesting experiences I have had in my life, was the very first time that I had to cast a vote in the legislature. It was a strange feeling for me because I all of a sudden realized that I was there to make these kinds of decisions and I absolutely had to vote. It’s not always comfortable but I wouldn’t have it and any other way.
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