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I am pleased to be able to report that I will again be serving on some of the major committees in the Senate in the upcoming session. The committee chairs and vice-chairs were announced earlier. The full committee memberships have now been announced by the majority leader. As I reported earlier I will chair the Justice Systems budget subcommittee and I will be the vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee. I will also serve on the Appropriations Committee, which passes the state budget each year. In addition, I will serve on the Human Resources Committee that among other things deals with mental health issues and Medicaid. My other committee is the Local Government Committee, that of course, deals with bills affecting local governments, mostly cities and counties. These are the same committees that I served on last year. As I have reported earlier, the Justice Systems budget subcommittee deals with agencies that are involved in public safety and justice, about 10% of the state’s general fund.

The Judiciary Committee is the busiest committee handling more bills than any other committee. I should have the opportunity to be the floor manager for a number of bills, guiding them through the subcommittee, committee process, and then presenting the bills to the full Senate for debate and vote. As vice-chair of the committee I also chair Judiciary Committee meetings on any occasion when the chair is absent. It is possible, if not likely, though, that this will be a shortened session with fewer bills being acted on than usual.

Normally committee meetings are held in meeting rooms behind the chamber. Last June when we reconvened to finish up the session, committee meetings were held in the chamber itself, so members could spread out more. It appears that that will be the procedure in the upcoming session also. There will likely be more virtual access to committee meetings and less public, in-person access. As far as I know, voting will be done in person.

New Session Begins January 11

The new session is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 11. The goal normally is to adjourn after about 110 days in the first year of the session. I will not be surprised to see us adjourning or recessing sooner, before 110 days have passed.

An unknown right now is when we will get the new census information that we will need to re-apportion the congressional districts and the legislative districts. As we all know, population shifts over time from one area to another. Some counties gain population and some lose population. Congressional and legislative district lines must be adjusted to make them as equal in population as possible. Our area has grown in population so our legislative districts will be smaller geographically than they are now. Under current law, the Legislative Services Agency draws up proposed congressional and legislative districts.  We vote yes or no on the proposed map. If the first maps are rejected other maps are drawn and we have another yes or no vote. If those maps are rejected, a third set is drawn up, and those maps can be amended. Last time we accepted the first proposed maps.

It appears that we will still have 4 congressional districts. We have 50 senate districts and 100 house districts. Each senate district contains 2 house districts. As much as possible, the legislative districts are kept in 1 congressional district. However, because there are 50 senate districts and 4 congressional districts, 2 senate districts must overlap into 2 congressional districts. (50 cannot be evenly divided by 4.)

I am very honored to represent the people of Senate District 13.

Author: Julian Garrett