Hello...and yes, I know it's been a while since we last communicated. I did not send an end of session wrap-up...because I could not. There is no wrap-up because things just kept happening following the end of the session--it was as if the session did not end! And the more I have pondered this phenomena, I now think maybe this is the new normal: There shall be sessions without end now that this Governor and his Party are in charge. Sessions without end....
You might recall there was more than a little residue left on the floor of the House at the end of March. Unfinished business. Frustration over a starting gate full of bills which remained unresolved and unaddressed. Failed expectations over bills passed--particularly the Pension Bill--but vetoed by the Governor. Verbal conflicts between legislators. The perception of a House afire, and not a first responder in sight. Unfulfilled promises, yet unmet. As I said before, it's as though the session has not really ended.
Let me be more specific. This administration hung its hat on fixing the pension problem. Currently, the count is 0 - 2. It could not be fixed in a failed Special Session. [0-1] It did not get fixed in a Regular Session [0-2], even though a pension bill did pass. Now we have been put on notice that the Governor will call us back to the batter's box for yet another swing at fixing the pension in a Special Session before the beginning of July. If this is accomplished, no doubt it will be the key campaign garland he wears around his neck in November's General Election bid. If not, speaking baseball, "Governor, you're Ooouuuttt!"
And our House Leadership is not without unpaid bets at the window. Let me be the first to say, I took Republican Leadership at its word when they said they were unaware of blocks of Democrat legislators who were not even given the courtesy of a committee hearing on any of their bills in 2018.
I brought this to their attention at the beginning of our most recent session, and in 2019, I believe we had ONE bill that passed--the Expungement Bill. I need to follow up with members to see if we had any other of our bills heard in committee. Some will call this "progress"...but only if standing still is your benchmark.
Lest we forget, there were unsettling incidents occurring on the House Floor that set a tone which remains and that ensures public trust and confidence in this institution is soiled.
And there are smoldering relationships. For example, numerous times during the session, Democrats were gaveled "Out of Order" when addressing the body on topics uncomfortable to House Leadership. Yet, a Republican member infamously was allowed to lecture the House for more than 15 minutes on a sensitive topic that was right in House Leadership's political wheelhouse--even being allowed to call members out by name--an act completely out of bounds since time can be remembered on the House floor. Republican Leadership has assured us she would be confronted and would apologize for the insult, but there has been nothing forthcoming thus far.
Also unresolved is the blatant ugliness shown by a freshman on the R side of the aisle who shouted for Rep. Booker "to shut up and sit down" as Rep. Booker addressed the House. When this outlier was confronted by Rep. Booker, he declared "he had a right to yell" out his disrespectful tripe; not unlike Joe Wilson is "You lie" during President Obama's address to Congress.
As it turns out, this particular legislator is apparently making a habit of confronting his Democrat colleagues. Rep. Booker informed me that this was the same legislator who confronted me for embarrassing the House when Speaker Osbourne mistakenly thought I was confronting him earlier this session when I brought up a matter on the floor. Because I had never seen this newbie, and because he was nameless to me and was being so obtuse, I merely had a few choice words for him when he sulked away, never knowing who he was. Thanks, Rep. Booker, for putting a face with a name. Again, nothing was done by House Leadership to address this slight.
As noted, it seems the session just has not and will not end. One has to wonder if this is the new normal. Sessions without end. If memory serves, that is precisely why the intentional effort was made to ensure the long and short sessions would make the legislature more efficient and effective, all the while, saving dwindling state resources. It seems someone has forgotten the benefit of and goal for fine-tuning the legislature with divided sessions.
And more issues are certain to confront us ahead:
- The Governor's irresponsible spearheading of the anti-vaccination movement--even as nationally and locally, infectious diseases such as mumps and measles (once thought to be eradicated) rebound with a vengeance.
- 2020 elections and beyond.
- The call for comity between parties and between chambers.
Stay tuned; it's not over 'til it is. Feel free to contact me, or any legislator, by calling 502-564-8100.
REP. REGINALD MEEKS (42nd Legislative District)
And do not forget to vote on Tuesday, May 21!