So, we thought the last “A Slice of Life” post was so interesting, it’s now going to be a monthly post! Each month we will present a selection of the bills that were “trending”, meaning bills that have had the most clicks on BillTrack50 over the past month. Join us at the end of every month to see how the legislative trends around America change throughout the challenging year ahead of us. Judging by January 2017’s bills – it’s going to be a wild ride!
NE LB617 – the Industrial Hemp Act. This act is meat to assist Nebraska in moving to the forefront of industrial hemp production, development, and commercialization of hemp products in agribusiness, alternative fuel production, and other business sectors (nationally and globally). Hemp is thought to be a much better crop than cotton, wood and plastic and can be used for: fiber, paper, cardboard, plastic substitutes, soy substitutes, non-toxic diesel fuel, paint, and more. One acre of hemp will produce as much fiber as two to three acres of cotton and as much paper as two to four acres of trees. For more information about hemp read this, for more information about marijuana read this or this.
CT SB745 – Act Concerning A Mandatory Life Sentence For Repeat Violent Offenders. This act will amend the general statutes to provide that a person who is convicted for the third time of a violent felony to be sentenced to life imprisonment. Felonies are the most significant type of crime. Typically, violent crimes (where someone physically harms someone or threatens or uses violence while committing a crime) fall into the category of felonies, though there are some that may constitute misdemeanors.
GA SR6 – Citizens’ Redistricting Commission. This bill proposes an amendment to the Constitution to make legislative and congressional reapportionment be done by an independent bipartisan commission instead of the General Assembly. The commission shall consist of 14 members: five members who are identified with the political party whose candidate for Governor in the last general election to fill the office of Governor received the highest number of votes, five members who are identified with the political party whose candidate for Governor in the last general election to fill the office of Governor received the next highest number of votes, and four members who are not identified with any political party. All members must have been registered to vote in Georgia for a five-year period or longer and have to have voted in each of the three immediately preceding state-wide general elections.
WY HB0230 – Regarding hemp farming. This act, similar to that of Nebraska, authorizes industrial hemp farming. They are approving farming hemp for research purposes, provides licensure requirements and rulemaking authority and provides an affirmative defense for marijuana prosecutions. If a person meets their requirements, they can plant, grow, harvest, possess, process or sell industrial hemp (considered an agricultural crop). Their licensure requirements will not apply to University of Wyoming.
US HR7 – No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 – a bill that makes permanent the prohibition on use of federal funds (including funds from District of Columbia) for abortion or health coverage that includes abortion. The prohibition does not apply to abortions in cases of rape, incest, or where a physical condition endangers a woman’s life unless an abortion is performed. For more information about abortions, go here, here or here.
NY S2950 – Early Voting – provides that beginning the eighth day prior to any election and ending on and including the second day prior to the election a person duly registered and eligible to vote shall be permitted to vote. It also states “for early voting shall be equally divided between the major political parties. The board of elections shall assign staff and provide the resources they require to ensure wait times at early voting sites do not exceed thirty minutes.” For more on voting laws, read this, this or this.
TN HJR0031 – Supports U.S. statehood for Puerto Rico – Stating “Puerto Rico has a long and distinguished history that encompasses its last 118 years under U.S. sovereignty and after a thirteen-day military campaign in 1898, U.S. forces took Puerto Rico; they encountered little opposition and were instead greeted by Puerto Ricans with cheers.” It continues to outline how there has been 118 years of a mutually beneficial relationship (trade, citizenship, fighting in wars, etc) should be basis for the United States Congress to enact legislation enabling Puerto Rico’s admission as the fifty-first state of the Union.
AR HB1040 – Limit The Practice Of Athletic Training In A Nonclinical Setting – “Athletic training” is defined as the prevention, recognition, evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of an athletic injury or illness and the organization and administration of exercise, conditioning, and athletic training programs. “Nonclinical setting” is defined as a facility or setting that is unable to bill Medicare for services provided at the facility or setting in the acute or sub-acute stage (beginning stage of recovery). If an athletic trainer violates this they are subject to suspension or revocation of their professional license.
US HR193 – American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017 – repealing the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 and other specified related laws. This bill aims to require: the President to terminate U.S. membership in the United Nations (U.N.) and close the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. It aims to prohibit: the authorization of funds for the U.S. assessed or voluntary contribution to the U.N. or any U.S. contribution to any U.N. military or peacekeeping operation or to support the participation of U.S. Armed Forces as part of any U.N. military or peacekeeping operation. It also wants to barre U.S. Armed Forces from serving under U.N. command and remove diplomatic immunity for U.N. officers or employees.
OH HB474 – College Credit Plus – Proposes that the state board of education, the superintendent of public instruction, and the chancellor of higher education develop a system of college and work ready assessments to determine whether students are ready to enter college or the workforce upon graduating from high school. It consists of two things: one, nationally standardized assessments that measure college and career readiness and are used for college admission administered to eleventh-grade students in the spring ofthe school year and two, seven end-of-course examinations in English, Math, History and Government classes.
I think these bills are an excellent slice of life for right now. Some are the specialized things that we haven’t been hearing about in the news, like college and athletic trainers, while others have been a hot topic of the election and in the news cycles now, like the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 and marijuana. Meanwhile, we have Puerto Rico trying to gain their statehood. It’s quite the climate in the states right now. Interested to see where the next month takes us!