Summary of State Legislative Priorities for 2018
Originally published by: ASHRAE — January 22, 2018
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Many state legislatures have convened for their 2018 session, the vast majority of which will be short budget sessions. Here are some highlights:
- Arizona – lawmakers in Arizona are expected to begin consideration of the budget, along with several other issues. The legislature is slated to adjourn in mid-April, but floor sessions beyond that time are likely.
- California – the 2018 regular session has begun in Sacramento. This year, lawmakers are likely to consider additional housing legislation, including measures to require taller and denser housing near transit. Legislators are also expected to consider rent control, property tax rate caps and local land redevelopment. The session is scheduled to adjourn on August 31.
- Colorado – lawmakers are expected to focus primarily on the state's budget but are also expected to consider energy creation and net neutrality. The session is scheduled to adjourn May 9.
- Delaware – legislators will hear Governor John Carney's (D) budget address later this month and begin consideration of proposals to increase state spending with news of increased revenues. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn by late June.
- Florida – members of the Florida legislature have returned to the capitol. This year the agenda includes the state budget, but look for legislation to alter the composition of the state's building code council. The regular session is scheduled to adjourn March 9.
- Georgia – state lawmakers are expected to address the $26 billion state budget and consider issues such as income tax rate reductions. Also on the agenda are mass-transit funding, economic development in rural areas, and infrastructure improvements. The legislature should adjourn by early March.
- Idaho – after receiving Governor Butch Otter's (R) final state-of-the-state address, the legislature is expected to consider several issues, including tax reform and infrastructure improvements. Starting this year, the legislature must present all bills for the governor's consideration before they adjourn sine die (due to a court order). The legislature will likely adjourn by the end of March.
- Illinois – state lawmakers will consider the state budget with floor sessions concluding in late May. However, all eyes are on this fall's election where Governor Bruce Rauner (R) is up for a hotly-contested re-election.
- Indiana – the Indiana legislature re-convened on January 3. This is the state's short session so there will be no crafting of a state budget. The session must end no later than March 14.
- Iowa – state lawmakers convened the 2018 regular session where they are expected to consider infrastructure improvements, and income tax relief. The session is scheduled to adjourn in late April.
- Kansas – the Kansas session began on January 8 with legislators facing decisions on court-mandated increases in public education. Last year's tax increases, followed by stronger than expected state revenues, have lawmakers optimistic no additional revenue enhancement will be needed this year. The legislature should adjourn by mid-April.
- Kentucky – legislators are expected to address an election-year budget, an overhaul of the state employee pension system (which currently has a $41 million deficit), and tax cuts. As the session begins, the House will vote to replace Jeff Hoover as Speaker, who resigned as Speaker in November after settling a sexual harassment suit. An April 15 adjournment date is expected.
- Maine – the main focus of this legislative session is likely to be funding for Medicaid expansion, which was mandated by voters in a referendum last fall. Governor Paul LePage (R) has insisted it be accomplished without tax increases so legislators will be seeking funding streams to try and accomplish both goals. Also, legislators will be looking at the future of solar policy in that state. Adjournment is set for mid-April.
- Maryland – the Maryland General Assembly convenes today in Annapolis. Lawmakers are expected to focus on passing a state budget, renewable energy, and the establishment of an independent redistricting commission. The session is slated to adjourn in early April.
- Mississippi – lawmakers are expected to address funding for infrastructure improvements, which is expected to be debated against a backdrop of whether to continue the trend of tax cuts and more limited budget spending. Also on the agenda is a continued effort to create a state lottery (Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery (including Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah). The session should conclude by late April.
- Missouri – members of the General Assembly are expected to consider the state budget, infrastructure improvements, and workforce development. May 18 is the projected adjournment date.
- Nebraska – the nation's only Unicameral legislature began on January 3 where the main priorities will be to close a projected $173 million budget deficit caused by an uncertain economy in the agricultural sector, income and property tax relief, infrastructure improvements, and housing. The short session should adjourn by mid-April.
- New Hampshire – legislators in New Hampshire will consider offering universal lead blood testing of 1 and 2-year-old children. The potential law would add regulations to landlords, lowering the threshold of lead that must be found in a child of a tenant in order for the landlord to be required to renovate the property. Likewise, it would create a $6 million guaranteed loan program to help assist landlords seeking to carry out those renovations.
- New Jersey – state legislators officially concluded the 2016-2017 session and started the 2018-2019 on January 9. Whatever bills that reached Governor Chris Christie's (R) desk last session needed to be signed or vetoed before his successor – Phil Murphy (D) – was sworn into office on January 16; otherwise, the bills are considered dead.
- Rhode Island – the Rhode Island session, scheduled to last until June, will be focused on the current $60 million projected budget deficit and a possible tax increase on the state's wealthiest residents.
- South Carolina – lawmakers re-convened for the 2018 regular session on January 9. The legislature is expected to adjourn by early June.
- South Dakota – South Dakota lawmakers began the 2018 session with Governor Dennis Daugaards' (R) State of the State address. The state faces a $34 million budget shortfall in the current year and slow revenues projected for the following year. Legislators are expected to consider legislation on non-meandered water management, among other issues. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn March 26.
- Tennessee – state lawmakers in the Volunteer State have convened the 2018 regular session. The regular session is slated to adjourn in mid-April.
- Vermont – the Vermont legislature began on January 3 with Governor Phil Scott (R) giving the State of the State address. Early May is the projected adjournment date.
- Virginia – lawmakers returned to Richmond with a substantially different landscape. A new Governor, Ralph Northam (D) was elected this past November. Control of the House and Senate will be a factor, with razor-thin GOP majorities in both chambers after the 2017 general election which saw the ouster of many veteran legislators. Legislators will consider a new two-year budget, Medicaid expansion, and education funding. The session is scheduled to adjourn March 10.
- Washington – legislators in Washington state will likely address issues of carbon taxes to fight climate change, though the outcome is uncertain. This short session will adjourn in mid-March.
- West Virginia – legislators plan to consider a projected $353 budget deficit. Also likely to be considered will be tax reform. The session is scheduled to adjourn March 10.