Activity in the Senate this week revolved around getting the budget bills passed on the floor. Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington) shook the process by successfully amending the K-12 education bill to fully fund the state foundation formula. His amendment, which was opposed by Budget Chairman Dan Brown, received the necessary 18 votes and added an additional $45 million to the formula funding.
Last week, the Senate rolled the Senate Perfection Calendar, allowing leadership to pick and choose from the hundred-plus Senate bills on the Senate Calendar – Senate Bills for Perfection. The word is that Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe has promised all thirty-three senators that they will be able to have floor debate on their number one priority bill on that calendar.
This week the Senate continued to slog through legislation at a pace slower than a turtle’s race. The chamber spent an inordinate amount of time debating paycheck protection (annual affirmation by union members to withhold dues and fees) without any conclusion of the issue. Senators also thoroughly debated a tort reform piece relating to the qualifications of expert witnesses which culminated in passage of the bill. There are now 147 bills on the Senate Calendar – Senate Bills for Perfection and 38 bills on the Senate Calendar – House Bills on Second Reading.
This week, the House spent much of its floor debate time perfecting and third reading tort reform bills. In all, the House passed and sent to the Senate four tort reform measures dealing with venue, joinder, intervention in a tort action and torts involving insurance contracts. The Senate Calendar – Senate Bills for Perfected now has a backlog of 119 bills as senators continue to methodically debate on the floor.