This Week in Focus, a Leonine Business

This Week in FOCUS – February 5th, 2018

Session Info

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois,Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin are in regular session. The District of ColumbiaCouncil, Puerto Rico and the United States Congress are also in regular session.

Oklahoma convened its second special session to address budget issues on December 18, reports theTulsa World. The session will run concurrently with the regular session, which convened on February 5.North Carolina convened a special session to address a broad range of matters on January 10, WUNCreports. Wisconsin convened a special session on January 18 to address a number of bills related to public assistance reform, FOX6 reports. An executive order that convenes and describes the scope of the special session from Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be found here. The special session will run concurrently with the regular session.

Arizona ended a special session on January 26 after passing legislation intended to crack down on opioid abuse, Reuters reports. The legislature remains in regular session. Connecticut held a one-day special session on January 31 to override Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s veto of funding for the Medicare Savings Program, CTNewsJunkie.com reports.

The following states are expected to convene for the 2018 legislative session on the dates provided:Connecticut (February 7); Arkansas and Wyoming (February 12) and Minnesota (February 20).

News Roundup

Tennessee Considers a Ban on Fraternities and Sororities 

A Tennessee legislator has introduced a bill that would ban fraternities and sororities at state colleges.HB 2042 would allow professional fraternities and honor societies, but ban all other fraternities and sororities. Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, introduced the bill to make a point, according to localmemphis.com. Representative DeBerry said “It’s time for us to take a long introspective look at these organizations and how they function on these state funded institutions.” University of Tennessee officials have already met with DeBerry in hopes of finding a compromise. Sen. Reginald Tate, D-Memphis, has sponsored the companion bill, SB 2541.

Arizona Representative Expelled

The Arizona House of Representatives voted 56-3 on February 1 to expel Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, after an investigation found credible evidence that he had sexually harassed at least seven women and created a hostile work environment, according to The Arizona Republic. Following his expulsion, Shooter told the newspaper during an interview, “I’ve been thrown out of better places than this.”

The expulsion will not change any measure of party control in the lower chamber, where Republicans currently hold a 34-25 advantage. His seat will be filled by another Yuma County Republican, per the state constitution. Local GOP precinct leaders are expected to meet this week in order to decide on three candidates to replace Shooter. The Yuma County Board of Supervisors will then choose the replacement from the three nominees.
California Considers State Bank for Marijuana Industry
California state Treasurer John Chiang and Attorney General Xavier Becerra are mulling over if it would be feasible to have a state-run bank for California’s marijuana industry. The state’s marijuana industry does not have a viable banking system as private banks are wary of accepting deposits from marijuana businesses because they are regulated by the federal government. Marijuana transactions are largely carried out with cash which poses its own sets of security and tax remittance risks. The marijuana business is expected to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry in the state. The Cannabis Working Group, which Chiang formed in 2016, is considering a feasibility study if a state-run bank could work.The Hill reports that North Dakota is the only other state that has a state-run bank.

Pennsylvania Considers Increasing Sex Trafficking Penalties

Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a bill that aims to crack down on sex slavery in the state, theDaily Item reports. HB 2029, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove, R-York County, seeks to address a key problem that advocates see with the way human trafficking cases are prosecuted — that the exploited victim is arrested while the customers who create the demand for the illegal services go free.

The bill would increase the penalty for trafficking an individual into sex slavery and/or for patronizing a sex trafficking victim from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony. An individual who patronizes a sex trafficking victim would face a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a fine of $1,000-$30,000 or $5,000-$100,000 if the victim is a minor (instead of the current $500 fine) and would be required to register as a sex offender.

Pennsylvania had 156 cases of potential human trafficking reported in 2016, and 117 cases reported between January 1 and June 30, 2017, according to the Human Trafficking Hotline.
Connecticut Faces Budget Shortfall

As the 2018 legislative session is approaching commencement in Connecticut, far fewer bills have been prefiled than in previous years, CT News Junkie reports. The deadline for individual legislators to propose legislation is February 9 and the deadline for committees to submit legislation is February 22. As of this past Friday, Senate clerks had only received one bill and House clerks received around 20; however, it is possible more legislation may flood in by February 7 when the session is scheduled to convene. As this year is a “budget adjustment” year, any legislation submitted by lawmakers must address revenue, financial or budgetary matters and it is expected Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy will need to close a $165 million gap in the 2019 budget. According to a report by the state’s Office of Legislative Research, issues that are likely to be discussed again this year include the regulation of bear hunting, the bottle bill, school funding, gas tax and modifications to the state tax code to reduce the impact of the changes from the federal government.

Signing Deadlines

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has 60 days from presentment to act on all legislation passed during the veto session or it becomes law.

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a signing deadline for 2017 legislation on January 31.

Special Elections

The following seats will be filled by special election on the dates provided: Missouri House districts 39, 97, 129 and 144 (February 6); Minnesota House District 23B and Senate District 54 (February 12);Florida House District 72 and Oklahoma Senate District 27 (February 13); Louisiana House District 86 (February 17); Kentucky House District 49 and Mississippi House District 60 (February 20); Kentucky House District 89 and New Hampshire House District Belknap 3 (February 27); Massachusetts Senate District Essex 3 and Oklahoma House District 51 (March 6); Tennessee Senate District 14 (March 13); Louisiana House District 93 (March 24); Alabama House District 21 (March 27); Massachusetts House District Bristol 2 (April 3) and Florida Senate District 31 (April 10).

Interim Hearings

The following states are currently holding interim committee hearings: Arkansas, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana (2019 interim hearings), Nevada (2019 interim hearings), North Carolina, North Dakota (2019 interim hearings), Oklahoma House and Senate, Oregon, Texas House and Senate (2019 interim hearings) and Wyoming.

Prefiles & BDRs

The following states are currently posting bill drafts, prefiles and interim studies: Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana (2019 interim studies), North Dakota (2019 interim committee bills),Oklahoma prefiles and House and Senateinterim studies, Oregon and Wyoming interim studies and prefiles.

Events

MORTGAGE BANKERS ASSOCIATION

National Mortgage Servicing Conference and Expo

Grapevine, TX

2/6/2018 – 2/9/2018
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE ENERGY OFFICIALS

Energy Policy Outlook Conference

Washington, DC

2/6/2018 – 2/9/2018
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE TREASURERS

Legislative Conference

Washington, DC

2/11/2018 – 2/13/2018
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REGULATORY UTILITY COMMISSIONERS

Winter Policy Summit

Washington, DC

2/11/2018 – 2/14/2018

REPUBLICAN SECRETARIES OF STATE COMMITTEE

Leadership Dinner

Washington, DC

2/16/2018

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SECRETARIES OF STATE

Winter Conference

Washington, DC

2/16/2018 – 2/19/2018
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE ELECTION DIRECTORS

Winter Meeting

Washington, DC

2/16/2018 – 2/19/2018

NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION

Winter Meeting

Washington, DC

2/23/2018 – 2/26/2018

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL

NAAG Winter Meeting

Washington, DC

2/26/2018 – 2/28/2018

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF INSURANCE LEGISLATORS

Spring Meeting

Atlanta, GA

3/2/2018 – 3/4/2018

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES

Legislative Conference

Washington, DC

3/3/2018 – 3/7/2018

PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL

PAC National Conference

Miami, FL

3/4/2018 – 3/7/2018