The week started out on Monday with a briefing from the Secretary of the Department of Health on the Corona virus to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Although the use of hand sanitizer has greatly increased and hand shaking decreased, work in the legislative arena proceeded in the usual way for this time of session.
 
Nonetheless, we know COVID-19 is circulating in the community. Our thoughts go to the people who were infected or are currently ill with the virus and to the friends and family of those who have died.
 
Back to the legislative update…Monday was the day bills had to be out of the opposite house fiscal committee and today (Friday) is cut-off for bills to be out of the opposite house. Needless to say, it was a busy and stressful week for legislators, staff, and folks working to keep bills alive!
 
Because the legislature is in major bill passing mode, the Partners for Our Children bill tracker could become out of date as soon as we hit send!  Apologies in advance. And because next Thursday is the last day of the regular session and they will (hopefully) be passing the final budget, it is possible our final tracker will be delayed. As always, we do our best to keep you up-to-date!
 
Beginning this Saturday the legislature will start running their concurrence/dispute calendars. And while budget discussions have been going on, they will likely kick into high gear after tomorrow’s cut-off.
 
Speaking of the budget, the legislature passed a bill to take money out of the so-called rainy day fund to help address the needs associated with the Corona virus. The economists are also paying close attention to the impact COVID-19 will have on our state’s revenue, and rumor has it, there will be an impact….
 
Unfortunately the outbreak may mean less available money for the remainder of this biennium and potentially the next biennium as well. At this point it is hard to know if/how it will change the budget negotiations, but our sense is there will be additional pressure to reduce spending levels. We’ll see!
 
After the budget passes we will update the budget comparison document and send it out. It could take some time to do that so if there are specific items you may be wondering about, please let us know!
 
Many bills are on the 2nd reading calendar (eligible to come up for a vote on the floor of the House/Senate) that may or may not pass before 5:00 p.m. today AND many have already passed:
HB2525 – Family Connections Program
HB2737 – Children’s Behavioral Health Workgroup
HB2456 – Working Connections Child Care Eligibility (aka Homeless childcare)
HB2441 – Improving Access to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
HB2873 – Families in Conflict
HB2883 – Expanding Adolescent Behavioral Health Care Access
SB5411 – Implementing Child Support Pass-through
SB6287 – Concerning Guardianships and Conservatorships
SB6540 – Working Connections Child Care Payment Authorizations
 
Take especially good care of yourselves during these busy and stressful days.
 
One week to go!!!