Welcome to Week 15 of the 2015 Legislative Session!

Hard to believe, but this is the last weekly update of the regular 2015 legislative session. We appreciate your interest in the issues and hope that you have found our updates to be useful. In the coming weeks, we’ll send out a survey about our email updates, bill tracker, and budget tracker, and we'd love your feedback – we want to ensure our policy tools are as useful as possible!

We’re excited that a number of bills have been delivered to the Governor and are being signed into law. Today, the Governor will take action on the Homeless Youth Act (SB 5404) – this bill will be instrumental in developing a plan to prevent and reduce the number of homeless youth in our state. Specifically, the bill will address availability and accessibility of stable housing, education and employment, permanent connections (positive relationships with family members, employers, community members, etc.), and social and emotional well-being for homeless youth.

On Saturday, the Governor will take action on the Parents for Parents bill (SB 5486). Parents for Parents is a program that encourages parents who were previously involved in the child welfare system to support parents who are currently involved in the system – an approach that shows promise in the few areas of the state that currently implement it. 

We are hopeful that the Governor will sign both SB 5404 and SB 5486 in their entirety (i.e., not veto any sections), but it’s a good rule of thumb to not make assumptions when it comes to the legislative process. It is very exciting, however, to have action on these key bills so early on, as the bulk of the bills we have been actively involved with will not reach the Governor’s desk for a while. If you’re interested, bill signings are open to the public, and for the most part, take place in the Governor’s conference room (2ndfloor of the Capitol Building). Find out the status of other bills you’re interested in on our Bill Tracker.

So, has the budget been resolved? Not quite yet, which means we’ll be going into a special session. While there has been some finger-pointing with respect to who’s most to blame for the ‘extra innings’, it could simply be said that there are significant differences between the House and Senate budgets – specifically around available resources, the need to raise additional revenue, how much to put into K-12 education, other services and programs, etc.

So the Governor is calling the legislature back on April 29th and is hopeful that over the following 30 days there will be resolution on the budget. The closer we get to June 30th, the more challenging it is for state agencies, as they have to prepare to lay off staff, shut down programs, halt contracts, and more. All of this also makes it even more difficult for individuals receiving state services. We remain optimistic that they can get the budget done in one special session but acknowledge that it could take longer.

Sine Die (adjournment) needs to happen by midnight on the 26th; however, it is expected to take place today (Friday). Having to come back for a special session makes it a bit anti-climactic, but it’s expected that the ceremonial aspect of adjournment will occur, legislators will head home, and we will all be back at it on the 29th!

Questions or feedback on our policy updates? Don’t hesitate to email us at info@partnersforourchildren.org. Also, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates on our work during the legislative session and throughout the year.

Have a good weekend!

Laurie Lippold

Public Policy Director