Legislative session started off busier than usual in the first week since the new floor leader, Sen. McCortney, encouraged committee chairs to hear bills the first week. Your legislative team spent much of our time working in the Senate as a result and we will expect an even busier second week as meetings start to ramp up in the House as well.
Here is a look at what happened this week and what we expect next week:
-Anti-vaccine and anti-mask measures – SB352 and SB1186, were put on the Senate General Government agenda but after lobbyists from several organizations rallied, the meeting was cancelled. Chairman Sen. Tom Dugger has agreed to listen to concerns and will consider not hearing the bills. The committee meets on Thursdays so we will know more early next week. SB352 would take away the ability of schools or local governments to require masks during an outbreak of any disease. SB1186 would stop any state or local agency from being able to ask for an employee’s vaccination status.
-Newborn screenings – SB1464, which would require the list of newborn screenings match the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to the extent practicable, is set for a hearing in Senate Health and Human Services Monday.
-Commissioner of Health – SB709, which would allow someone to serve as commissioner of health as long as they have a master’s degree and experience managing state agencies or large projects, also is set for a hearing Monday in Senate Health and Human Services. If this passes, Interim Commissioner of Health Keith Reed would meet the qualifications to remain as commissioner.
We will have our plate full of these items and many others as agendas start to come out for both houses in the next few days. As always, please let us know if you have any questions.