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Legislative Update (2-28-19)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Neighbor,

I mentioned in an update earlier this week that two gun bills (HF 8 and HF 9) were receiving hearings in the House. The House committee on public safety has now moved them both along on party-line votes, with Democrats in support of the bills and Republicans voting against them. I am not a member of the committee which conducted the hearings, but the Republicans who are did an excellent job in speaking up for our Second Amendment rights.

We can debate these bills all day long but, in the end, all of us in the Legislature took an oath of office, pledging to “support the Constitution of the United States, the constitution of this state, and to discharge faithfully the duties of his office to the best of his judgment and ability.”

The Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

That puts these bills in violation of the constitution and puts legislators in contempt of the oath of office they performed. I continue to oppose any infringements on the Second Amendment and will stand against these two bills and any similar proposals that may be proposed in the House.

Thank you to all the Second Amendment supporters who came to the Capitol to rally for our constitutional rights and let’s stick together on this. We have some work to do.

Economic forecast received

The state received an updated economic forecast this week and it shows a budget surplus of around $1 billion on the bottom line. Revenue collections are down since the November forecast showed a $1.5 billion surplus. The report indicates:

“The projected balance for the upcoming biennium is $1.052 billion, which is $492 million less than the November forecast. Slower projected economic growth and lower observed collections compared to prior estimates result in a reduced revenue forecast throughout the budget horizon. A slightly lower expenditure forecast partially offsets the overall reduction to the projected balance. The trend of slower growth continues into the planning horizon with projected spending growth outpacing forecast revenue growth into FY 2022-23.”

My first reaction to this news is that, with a $1 billion surplus, tax increases should be non-starters this session as we set a new two-year state budget. And, with revenue slipping, we need to set a responsible overall spending total so we still have a cushion in the event that receipts continue to dwindle. These approaches are consistent with where I always stand, but this forecast really drives home the point of why this path is appropriate.

Look for more as the House and Senate start putting the pieces in place for their respective budget proposals. The governor already said he wants to raise our taxes by $3 billion and raise state General Fund spending to almost $50 billion.

-Steve

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