Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We've entered our second week of the 2015 legislative session. The bills have started to flow and public hearings are being scheduled.
On Monday, we honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As many of you know, he has served as an inspiration to so many people and generations. He has served as an inspiration to me, personally, as a public servant. The fact that his message and approach still resonate today is awe-inspiring.
In addition to hearing bills, the Legislature is gearing up for budget negotiations. It's difficult to determine now what those discussions and the final product will look like. What is clear is K-12 funding (the McCleary court case) will be a major driver during these discussions. If you ever have any comments or questions regarding the budget, or any other piece of legislation, please contact my office. As your representative in your citizen Legislature, I want your feedback and suggestions.
I have sponsored 13 pieces of legislation this session, and have signed onto several other bills. The following is not a comprehensive list, but I wanted to provide you with an overview of some of the solutions I'll be pursuing this session. For a full list of my sponsored and co-sponsored legislation, visit my website and click “Sponsored Bills.”
HB 1268 – Referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
Numerous studies suggest hemp seed is a good source of essential fatty acids for livestock. This bill would require the state Department of Agriculture to conduct a study to determine the benefits of allowing hemp and hemp products in commercial feed and, based off of those findings, allow commercial feed license-holders to include hemp in their feed formulations.
HB 1272 – Referred to the Public Safety Committee
I introduced this bill last session and am reintroducing it now with one minor adjustment. This legislation would address the penalties for someone sharing and distributing intimate images with the intent to cause harm and/or emotional distress. Some concern was expressed last year with regard to the penalty being too harsh, so we've tried to address that in this version of the bill.
Fire Sprinkler Systems
HB 1291 – Referred to the House Labor Committee
This bill would make modifications to credentialing requirements for the installation of fire sprinkler protection systems by designated contractors. The goal with this bill is to lower the cost to install a residential sprinkler system in order to encourage voluntary installations.
Intalco Tax Preference
HB 1391 – Referred to the House Technology and Economic Development Committee
This bill would help aluminum smelters, like Intalco, to retain jobs by extending their current tax preference. This industry is vital to our district and I hope it continues to employ more of our hardworking residents. With the drop in the worldwide price in aluminum, this bill is essential to keep our smelters in operation until prices rise again.
While I'm not the sponsor of HB 1131, I did sign onto the bill and have received several emails about this legislation. It's intended to hinder the illegal sale, trade and distribution of ivory and rhinoceros horns. I signed on so that I could ensure measures taken in this bill were fair and reasonable. I'm intending to remove a section in the bill that includes a penalty for the trafficking of fish and wildlife parts, as well as ensuring unintentional sales of ivory (i.e. antique shops, firearm sales) are not unnecessarily penalized.
I recently visited Tampa, Florida for the State Ag and Rural Leaders 2015 Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit. There we visited an elephant research center, Ringling Bro's and Barnum and Bailey's Center for Elephant Conservation, which dedicates its research to the care, handling and preservation of the Asian elephant. Once HB 1131 was introduced, I felt compelled to sign on and join the conversation.
HB 1131 received a public hearing on Tuesday and will have another short hearing this following Tuesday.
I'll do my best to keep you updated on my legislation as it moves through the process this session. Stay tuned for more updates later on.
In addition, you're always encouraged to forward these e-mails to friends, family, and anyone else you think might be interested. Anyone interested in receiving these e-mails can sign up at my website by entering their e-mail address at the top of the page.