Arizona, it was a session marked by papering over a large fiscal
deficit, the approval of a ballot measure to ban gay marriage, and a
number of nasty initiatives that were thankfully vetoed by the
The Delaware General Assembly completed floor sessions after lawmakers agreed on several measures, including a $3.3 billion state budget; a $601.7 million bond bill; and a $45 million grant-in-aid bill.
Running for the US Senate representing Illinois in 1858, Abraham Lincoln said,
"A house divided against itself cannot stand." In present-day
Illinois, animosity between Democratic leaders - Governor Rod
Balgojevich and Speaker Michael Madigan - may bear this out. The hostility
between the two men, who are not on speaking terms, is the result of
fierce disagreements over past and current budget provisions and a
federal investigation into gubernatorial appointments and campaign
donations. The Speaker recently sent a memo to Democratic legislative
candidates with talking points concerning when and how to bring
impeachment proceedings against the Governor. The breakdown in
communication has clearly effected the state's business.
on the top issues dominated Kansas’ legislative session and prevented
movement on most significant legislation. This generally played out to
progressives favor as the legislative majorities top priorities for the
session were misguided immigration policies and granting permits for
two coal-fired power plants that the executive branch had previously
The Rhode Island General Assembly adjourned after lawmakers reached agreement on a $6.9 billion state budget
which, among other things, closes a $422 million deficit for the next
fiscal year. Overall the Rhode Island legislative session ended in
mix results, with Governor Carcieri vetoing some important foreclosure
and environmental legislation. In fact, over a four-day period last
week the Republican Governor vetoed 49 of the bills
approved late last month before the Democrat-dominated Assembly
adjourned. The legislature may, if they choose, hold a special session
before January to rescue the swath of bills.
South Carolina's legislative session was marked
by a failure to pass major pieces of legislation such as healthcare and
payday-lending reforms, the passage of a regressive immigration bill,
and significant time spent on small, controversial measures such as
posting the ten commandments in public buildings, “I Believe”? license plates, and outlawing pants worn below the hips. Fixing budget deficits
and hiring much needed additional judges were two other important
issues that could not get resolved while less consequential legislation
was debated. In the end, lawmakers showed how important those small
measures were by overriding vetoes of bills like S 577, which increased penalties for attacking a coach in a sports league.
With a last minute deal to close a billion-dollar deficit, Minnesota had a good session that would have been a landmark one -- if the Governor had not vetoed more bills (34!) this session than in any other since World War II.
Maine lawmakers addressed a
$190 million shortfall with unfortunate cuts to education and health
care services for low-income and indigent Mainers, but fortunately
continued to support the state's health care reform efforts. Lawmakers
also passed a minimum wage increase from $7 to $7.50 over two years,
strong protections for children from toxic chemicals, legislation
to combine the state and county corrections systems while capping
property taxes that will fund the new system at 2008 levels, and a
model cable franchise agreement that municipalities can use to
negotiate local video franchises.
Missouri's legislative session was largely a repeat of last year
- the best that can be said is that some particularly bad bills failed
to pass. Unfortunately, others did. The state passed a particularly
regressive immigration bill, but failed to take action on voter ID
legislation. Beyond those issues the session mostly played out as a
Oklahoma State Legislature adjourned late Friday, May 23, a week
earlier than constitutionally-mandated. Lawmakers closed the session
with an agreement on a $7.1 billion state budget for the next fiscal
year. Overall the short 16 week session led to a mix bag of results.