While not under the fiscal pressures of most states due to rising
prices for minerals, the 60 day session proved too fleeting, and the
legislature and governor had to use two brief special sessions
to complete their work. They did manage to pass some promising election
reforms and a solar tax credit, but big reforms of health care didn't
materialize and environmental policy moved backward on a couple fronts.
Despite the economic downturn, Vermont lawmakers made important gains
in several areas, notably in gay marriage, reducing Rx costs, renewable
energy, transportation, and an economic stimulus package that utilizes
federal stimulus resources.
This was the first session after the Senate switched to a Republican
majority, giving the party control of the entire Legislature for the
first time in the state's history. With conservative members firmly in charge,
they began the session promising to remake government. Progressives
had good reason to worry that draconian measures were on the way.
While there were some bad laws passed this year, a combination of
compromise and gubernatorial vetoes meant that conservative gains were
evolutionary, not revolutionary.
With Iowa lawmakers facing not only fiscal problems similar to many
states, but the need to pass flood and tornado recovery bills,
lawmakers met both challenges by the end of the session. However, the
rest of the agenda for progressives saw a mix of wins and losses, with
most high profile reforms falling short, but many good progressive
policies becoming law. And, the leadership of Iowa legislators stepped
up to support the Iowa supreme court decision support marriage equality
for same sex partners, refusing to advance a proposed constitutional
attack on the groundbreaking decision.
Idaho faced a historically bad budget projection, with projected
consecutive negative growth in two years. This challenge resulted in
the second longest session of all time, with the federal recovery act
allowing significant opportunities for the legislature to use one-time
funds to shore up the budget, even as reductions were made to education
for the first time in state history. Without a doubt, this was one of the most contentious sessions in state record.
Like many states Maryland's largest issue this session was the budget.
However, a number of important issues were debated during the 90-day
session, including a controversial bill to prevent undocumented
residents from obtaining driver's licenses, an attempt to repeal the
state's death penalty, and a bill to crack down on worker
The $31.4 billion general operations budget approved by the legislature filleda $9 billion shortfall with federal stimulus money, one-time transfersand more than $4 billion in cuts to education, health and stateprograms. The budget includes many cuts to health care and educationand slashes $1028 billion from state employee salaries, healthbenefits, and other compensation, resulting in 7,000 to 8,000 lostgovernment and public school jobs.