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  • Mike Weisgram

Legislative Update – Week #6

Emotion was a key ingredient to many of the discussions held on proposed legislation this week. From expanding campgrounds, defining authority to spend federal funds, education issues, requiring an adoption process for people seeking parenthood through surrogacy, and an appropriation request to fund a master plan to remodel and improve Capitol Lake were emotional topics that took much time, thought, investigation, and prayer to determine the direction of my votes.

A seemingly simple bill, SB 179, which dealt with modifying current law regarding municipal campgrounds, was heard at our House Local Government committee. Current statute states that cities that have public campgrounds cannot expand them if private campground owners, who have businesses within fifteen miles of the city’s facilities, do not give their written permission. Testimony for the proposal was understandable as a non-responsive campground owner was impeding progress, but the independent campground owners spoke to the value of private industry being more competent to provide these facilities as well as the fact that this function is not the city’s core purpose or business. I understand a city’s desire (and possible impatience) to enhance the quality of life for its citizens and guests as it can be a motivator to move a city forward, attract interest, and investment. However, the desire for private industry to take the risks, fulfill the market’s needs, and hopefully succeed will always be my barometer for those kinds of decisions. The committee agreed and the proposed legislation failed.

The passion around the request for an appropriation to address issues at Capitol Lake was most notable on the House floor yesterday. Legislators want to get this right as they feel ownership and a sense of pride about our Capitol complex, including how the grounds are maintained, the uniqueness of a lighted flowing water fountain, and the reverence for the many memorials. Your District 24 legislators have tried to separate the details of the remodel and updates and instead, focus on the need, importance, possible consequences, and positive opportunities a funded master plan can achieve. Many times, in brisk conversations we have indicated we are not engineers and cannot spell out every detail of a plan, but we know we need a plan that can give an oversight group options. After a fair debate yesterday on the House floor, HB 1013 passed 59-7 and now goes to the Senate for debate and hopefully passage. A big thank you to the many veterans for their determination and tireless support of this effort. Tim Rounds and John Moisan deserve much thanks too as they have been on the forefront of this issue for many years.

Expanding on legislation dealing with education issues, authority to spend government funds from grants, and changes to the surrogacy process in our state would require much more space and time than this update can address. I am happy to speak to them if you would like to call or write me, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 24 and I look forward to hearing from you soon. mw

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