The 2020 Legislative Session will undoubtedly be remembered more for COVID-19 then for anything else.
In March, much of our planned work took a back seat to the need to respond to coronavirus and emergency relief for those in need. But since the budget setting took place last session, this was going to be a session that centered on policy provisions.
While we didn't get everything we wanted, lawmakers made progress. What we accomplished occurred with bi-partisan effort and work. These include raising the legal age to 21 to purchase tobacco products, insulin affordability, drug transparency, and improved election security, among others. This past weekend the House also approved bills relating to transportation, public safety, and local government.
A bonding bill failed in both the House and Senate so clearly more compromise is needed before this plan can move forward. In the House, the typical process in the legislature, though it is not my favorite, is that one body presents their first bill at an unreasonably high dollar number and the other body presents an unreasonably low number. Then the negotiations begin, and we end up with a compromise bill at a more reasonable dollar figure.
Though the House bill included local projects, I could not responsibly vote to borrow more than $2 billion - which is double the size of an average bonding bill - when our state is already facing a multibillion-dollar deficit next year. That's just fiscally irresponsible.
I fully expect a more reasonable and responsible bonding bill to move forward during special session that includes local projects, and when that happens I will be happy to support it. Considering our current financial situation, it's also wise to be able to wait a bit and see what our state forecast looks like. We already know we're coming back for special session anyway, and this gives us a chance to all work on this together.
As the Memorial Day weekend has arrived, please join me in honoring the men and women of our armed forces who have fallen with a sincere tribute for the sacrifices they made to protect us and in defense of liberty. Without their heroism and bravery, we would not enjoy the freedoms we have today.