Key bills remain alive in legislative session

Students First Scholarship bill among those still in the running

Week 6, known as funnel week, is now in the books. This is historically a very busy week because if a bill does not pass out of full committee in the chamber it was introduced, then the bill is dead for the year. Most of my priority bills survived so I am very happy at how the session is progressing.

The Education Committee passed out the governor’s Students First Scholarship bill, which keeps the school choice effort alive and well. Also the Education Committee passed Senate Study Bill 3146, which is aimed at fairness in school sports and requires only female students, based on their sex, may participate in any team, sport, or athletic event designated as being for females, women or girls. This bill is not attacking anyone or their identity. It simply observes the biological differences between males and females and ensures all athletes have an equal opportunity to accomplish their athletic goals.

The governor’s workforce bill passed out of Commerce Committee this week, which implements a one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits and limits how many weeks someone can file for unemployment from six months to four months. Personally, I like the idea of an indexing system that would make it so that during good economic and employment times the period to file for unemployment be limited to 12 weeks and during poor employment times that number be 16 weeks maximum. Regardless, any reform in this area will be welcomed and both employees and employers will benefit. Fraud within the unemployment system will certainly be decreased as a result of this legislation.

Natural Resources Committee was very busy last week. The most talked about bill was SSB 3134. This bill limits how much the DNR or a county conservation board can pay when purchasing land. During the last four years the state has acquired over 14,000 acres of new land. This is alarming to many landowners. Many feel the government should not be the number one competitor for land. This bill will probably change from its current form, but it will be a vehicle we can use throughout the session to possibly put boundaries on what kind of land and how much land the state can buy.

Human Resources Committee was also very busy for me. The bills that were the highlight this week for me were the ones addressing mental health. SF2216 establishes intensive psychiatric units at the state mental health institutes, specifically at Cherokee and Independence. These units will be geared toward children with higher mental health needs. If there are beds available and not being used, they can also be used for children who have lesser needs. There is a four-year sunset on this program and DHS will be required to collect data on the effectiveness of these units. SSB 3144 is a bill that implements a tiered reimbursement rate system for intensive in-patient care under Medicaid. This will pay providers according to the level of care that is being provided. This bill will help ensure that no one who needs care falls through the cracks.

State Sen. Jesse Green, R-Boone, represents Boone, Greene and Hamilton counties, southeast Webster County and northwest Story County.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today