This 100 day session is in its 103rd day and there appears to be no end in sight, since we have many important bills pending and still have to go through the budget process. It seems that the Democrats are taking full advantage of their 2018 gains, and are being aided and abetted by a handful of Republicans, who jump to the Democrat side at the drop of a hat. The level of disruption and petty showmanship exhibited by this legislature is the worst we have seen in decades, and is responsible for the long session. Still, miraculously, we managed to make some progress.
This week was dominated by two topics, election integrity and distracted driving.
Regarding election integrity, the big news was the signing by the governor of Ugenti-Rita’s bill SB1090, dealing with emergency voting sites. This is the third Ugenti-Rita, election integrity bill that the governor has signed into law this session. The other two are SB1054, dealing with the curing process of ballots that have some deficiencies, and SB1072, which requires ID to be shown when early voting. Unfortunately, two other election bills that we are tracking, both introduced by Sen. Ugenti-Rita, have not fared so well. They are SB1046, which requires mail in ballots to be actually mailed in, and SB1188 that requires cleaning up of the Permanent Early Voting Lists. Both bills are languishing somewhere in the process and are not likely to be enacted.
Nevertheless, we should be elated, because 3 out of 5 is not bad, considering the composition of this legislature. In fact, at the beginning of this session, many observers, including this writer, predicted a much more dismal fate for bills dealing with elections. Sen. Ugenti-Rita deserves the lion’s share of the credit for this progress. A thank you note or phone call to her would be quite appropriate at this time.
The other topic, distracted driving, received a lot of attention this week, perhaps a lot more than it deserves. It does not take a lot of cynicism to conclude that these laws will not be enforced to any significant degree. Still, most people will feel good about “doing something” about distracted driving.
Two bills dealing with this subject advanced this week. HB2318 – CAMPBELL addresses texting and the use of telephones and other devices while driving. It cleared the last hurdle and it has been transmitted to the governor, where it anxiously awaits his signature. SB1141 – MESNARD has a broader scope, since it deals with many distractions in addition to texting. It cleared the house and was transmitted to the senate for a final vote. It is almost a sure thing that one of these bills will be enacted before our legislators go home.
Links to the bills mentioned in this article: