Dealing with a $309 million
mid-year budget gap and unemployment hovering above 9 percent, the 10-week
Indiana legislative session primarily focused on budgetary and economic
issues. Lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement to only consider bills
to no cost, but still considered a broad range of bills, from
property tax caps to energy efficiency initiatives.
In a state dominated by the oil and gas industry, it's not surprising
that one of the major bills of the Wyoming 2010 session was a tax on alternative
wind energy, just as it was little surprise that right-wing "states'
rights" bills dominated political debates.
Grappling with its own large budget deficit, the Utah State legislature
found time to move a number of initiatives, both positive and negative.
Public education and higher education both suffered significant cuts,
although not as bad as the worst proposals, with a tobacco tax the major
revenue approved to close budget gaps.
Connecticut legislators deserve praise for a robust and active legislative session,
despite an unprecedented budget deficit and opposition to many
important measures by Gov. Jodi Rell. Legislators succeeded in
expanding access to health care and improving its quality, passing a
public health insurance option, and addressing the foreclosure and
financial crisis to aid consumers and prevent corruption and abuse.
Lawmakers expanded environmental protections, improved long-term
planning for coastal waterways, and passed measures to support
families, workers, and seniors. A notable achievement, the result of a
State Supreme Court ruling in 2008, was implementation of marriage
equality for same-sex couples.
The 2009 regular legislative session focused primarily on
fiscal issues, with legislators only being allowed to introduce up to
five non-fiscal bills. While action was taken on the open government,
ethics, education, and health care, fronts, to a large extent,
meaningful reform was delayed or unraveled on each issue and any
positive action was minor.
Like most states, Delaware was plagued with budget difficulties that
found legislators and Governor Markell taking drastic steps to fill the
hole, including enacting a sports lottery bill that legalizes single-game betting. It becomes the only state other than Nevada to do so. Fortunately, the stimulus pumped $1.2 billion into the state coffers.
The state made solid reforms this session, tapping some new revenue to
address the budget crisis, making needed reforms in health care, and
notably becoming another state to approve gay marriage legislation.
The over-riding theme of the legislative session this year was how toresolve a $4 billion budget deficit. However, unlike many states,Oregon's legislators successfully avoided the worst cuts through fairrevenue generators and spending cuts. They also continued to pushforward on key issues like the environment, worker's rights, andhealthcare. On several issues, such as climate change, the governorput forward an agenda to lead the nation and in other areas strongprogressive legislators set out similarly ambitious goals. In manyinstances compromises tempered the boldness of the final product, butin most cases some real progress was made.
For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans held control
of both legislative chambers. However, the moment was fleeting. At
the start of this year's session, Republican Representative Kent
Williams seized the Speakership from his GOP colleagues, who had a one seat majority, by teaming up with the House Democrats, who elected him Speaker. The Tennessee Republican Party responded by banishing Speaker Williams from the Party, although he says he remains a Republican.
The Missouri legislature adjourned after delivering approximately 160 bills to Governor Nixon.
Budget: The Missouri legislature passed a $23 billion operating budget
for the fiscal year beginning July 1, plus a two-year $600 million
capital improvements budget that includes various projects funded with
federal stimulus money. Governor Nixon used the line-item veto to cut $22.8
million from the operating budget and $82.2 million from the capital
improvement budget. For specific initiatives vetoed click here. The Governor also placed on hold an additional $325 million of expenditures since the state faces declining revenues.