So. On Friday morning as stated in the last entry, House Agriculture heard the beef checkoff (HB1487) testimonies, coming back after lunch and floor session to listen to many who had waited all morning to testify in opposition. Not all were heard, but it was pretty well vetted. When most legislators have to travel back home on Friday afternoon in the winter – often 4 or 5 hours – it shows they care when sticking around late into the afternoon. The people in favor of making the dollar completely voluntary were not satisfied that they could ask for their dollar back, so they brought the bill looking for giving the dollar if they wanted to instead of having to get it back. Opposition stated that in 2015 they wrote the law so anyone who wished could get their dollar back. They typified the hearing and bill as an embarrassment to the beef industry and said the Legislature should not have been drawn into it, that the neighbors and friends who disagree on this inter-industry squabble should be able to fix it themselves.
Today it came up on the House floor for a vote after the Ag committee on Friday recommended 12-2 Do Not Pass to the floor. That prevailed, but was fairly close with 41 in favor and 53 opposed.
Two water bills; SB2208 in Senate Ag (would have been a big water law rewrite) is being turned into a study with those to comprise the study committee being discussed. HB1437, Representative Schreiber-Beck’s tiling bill, is moving forward with a few tweaks to address a couple of complaints from the hearing. The soil health bill heard last week in Senate Ag – lost 40-7 yesterday on the floor after a Do Not Pass from committee on Friday. The sponsor admitted on the floor that much of what the bill was trying to do already have vehicles such as the Soil Conservation Districts working on it and thought perhaps they could have done a better job of discussing the goals of this well-intentioned bill with interested parties beforehand.
If you have an interest in better funding for our road system, please consider contacting your legislators this afternoon and ask them to support HB1464 which is a 6 cent gas tax increase. Worth about $7.4 million per penny, many think it long overdue for a state that is behind in funding to the tune of about $200 million per biennium (according to Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute). But it would be a start and it still surprises me that it came out of House Finance and Tax with a Do Pass Recommendation. It should be up for a vote tomorrow.