Monday, March 23, 2015
Frankenbill scheduled for hearing in Senate Agriculture committee on Tuesday
by Larry Geller
It looks like a Frankenbill will be born at the Senate Agriculture meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) when the committee adds totally unrelated language to a bill already passed by the House. The new text, stuck onto the original bill, will not have been heard by any House committee or received its three readings on the House floor.
The description of HB508 HD1 was:
Establishes within the Livestock Revitalization Program a grant program for qualified feed developers. Appropriates funds for the Feed Developer Grant Program, reimbursements to Qualified Producers for feed cost, and a survey of local feed ingredient sources.
If you read the status page linked above, you’d have no idea that the Senate planned to create a monster tomorrow.
The proposed SD1 first adds a huge change to the bill in that it creates grants for establishment of feed mills. These grants can be up to $750,000 per project, which is no chump change. At least, they are still talking about feed.
There is also new language that makes it a Frankenbill because it has nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with feed. It’s about hemp:
Authorizes the growing of industrial hemp for certain purposes under specified conditions. Appropriates funds for Department of Agriculture staff to assist in registration of industrial hemp growers and seed testing.
Now, I have nothing against growing hemp “for certain purposes” at all. But it should have been in a bill all by itself.
The US Congress is known for tucking away little bits of evilness in totally unrelated bills. This snip is not even a week old, and illustrates the danger of Frankenbills:
Here's one of those classic moments in Congress when lawmakers first said they approved of a bill, and then they read it and found out what they were approving of. That is what Democrats say happened with the human trafficking bill. It seemed like a bipartisan no-brainer. Nobody favors human trafficking, and the bill would create a restitution fund for victims. Both parties were on board until Democrats said they discovered language blocking federal funds from being used for abortions.
[NPR, Abortion Provision In Human Trafficking Bill Delays Lynch Vote, 3/18/2015]
Back to HB508, it would be very easy for someone who supported the original bill to not read the new one completely, and simply submit a copy of their earlier supporting testimony to Senate committees it must pass through. That’s just one problem. The other, as mentioned, is that the new language is unrelated and never considered by the House. My reading of the state constitution is that this is not supposed to happen. Obviously, others think differently.