During October and early November, the Committees work on and decide if retained bills should be recommended to the full House as “Ought to Pass” (pass), “Inexpedient to Legislate” (kill), or “Interim Study” (think about for another year). There are approximately 200 bills that were retained and their recommendations will be voted on in the early January sessions. I had three bills retained over the summer by their committees.
A bill on default budgets sought to allow the default budget to reflect municipal staff’s actual pay at the budget hearing, not including any mid-year raises, instead of what passed in the prior budget. In cases where a mid-year position turnover happens and the new municipal employee earns less salary and benefits than the outgoing employee, the default reflects the previous employee’s salary and benefits rather than the current employee’s salary and benefits. This can also happen if the town adopts a placeholder amount for a new position and the salary for the new hire is less than the placeholder. In those situations, the budget is inflated above the amount needed to have kept the current staff member employed. A republican selectman joined the democrats on the committee and recommended killing the bill with two over all sentiments. First, a default budget is usually less than what the town requested, so the “extra” padding in that budget is good. Second, there was concern that the language might be interpreted to include the “actual amount PAID” in the new default budget rather than the annual salary at the time of the budget hearing, even though the word “paid” was not in any language of the bill.
A bill on divorce cases would have required that a final disposition hearing be scheduled when a temporary alimony is set. Currently, the time during which temporary alimony is paid does not go toward the length of time that alimony can be required to be paid; and without a final hearing being set the divorce process can drag on and on unnecessarily. Unfortunately, the committee recommended the bill be killed with the concern this requirement would put an increased burden on the court system. There is a need for twenty more judges for the current workload and funding in the budget is for only an additional seven judges.
Finally, I have a bill trying to bring back the medical waiver level for window tint. This was inadvertently removed when the law was changed a few short years ago—without any testimony from the medical field or those with waivers. People who had waivers for medical reasons for years, had to remove their tint to pass inspection. Unfortunately, the committee chose to hold on to this bill, which meant more waivers expired, unfairly affecting more people. However, it does seem like the committee is planning to reinstate the waivers, though they may not allow the level of tint which was allowed before. We will see if the Senate is receptive to the language the House passes.
Feel free to reach out to me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon Rep Josh Yokela
Representing Brentwood, Danville, Fremont