Another week has gone by since we hit the target 100 day mark, and still no end in sight. The longer this legislature stays in session, the more opportunities for mischief.
The big legislative news this week was Chairman Kelli Ward’s high profile, public support for a 7.14% sales tax increase. The legislation that would have placed this scheme on the ballot, SCR1001 appeared to be dead until Ward came up with her support. We will not dwell much on this because there have been a lot of discussion of the issue on social media and the press, including an excellent ADI article that may be accessed by clicking on WARD-ADI. We will only address the issue of what this means for the GOP politically. It will be very hard for rank and file Republicans to promote their party when their party chairman is so diametrically opposed to one of the bedrock pillars of the party. We should remember that at the state level, Republicans are only one seat away from losing control of the House. The situation is not much better in the Senate, where Republicans are two seats away from losing control. They cannot afford a snafu like this.
Elsewhere, at the capitol, there was some substantive action on pending bills, including three that we have been monitoring.
HB2318 – CAMPBELL: This bill prohibits the use of cell phones and other devices while driving, one of two such bills making its way through the legislature. It was signed by the governor, so it is now the law of the land. But it would be wise to withhold jubilation and celebration, because this law is not likely to be diligently enforced. Still, it is feel good legislation and we can all rejoice on its enactment.
SB1141 – MESNARD: This is the other distracted driver bill that was pending until this week, when the governor vetoed it. The reason given for the veto is that of the two bills dealing with the same subject, HB2318 was more specific and focused better on the problem.
SB1001 – UGENTI-RITA: This bill is aimed at repealing the highway safety fee (tax) enacted last year. It had cleared the full senate by a decisive bi-partisan 24-6 vote. Only one Republican voted NO, the reliable sweetheart from LD28, Kate Brophy-McGee. This week it passed the House Rules Committee 4-3, along party lines. It is expected that it will pass the whole house, but nothing is sure with this gang at the capitol. And then there is always the possibility of a governor veto, hanging over this bill’s tax-reducing head like a sword of Damocles.
Links to the bills mentioned in this report: