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Day 5: Involuntary Commitments

February 3, 2013

As shown below, one of my bills passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are the bills we discussed:

SB0018 Child Custody Proceedings Amendments (Robles) passed out with a favorable recommendation. It would reduce the age from 16 to 14 for a child’s opinion in custody cases to be given extra emphasis — but would still be only one of many factors considered by a judge.

SB0135 Involuntary Commitment Amendments (Weiler). This bill would change the procedures for involuntary commitment to requre an applicant to consult with the appropriate local mental health authority before the court may issue a judicial order. It also says that notice of involuntary commitment proceedings must be sent to the local mental health authority.

Kaitie Jowers was visiting the Capitol as a guest of Rep. Becky Edwards. They came and visited me on the Senate floor.

Kaitie

On Friday, the Senate passed HJR6, which will provide a new compensation package to legislators. Under the current rules, lawmakers have a $16,380 compensation package comprised of salary, meals and lodging. But the system was unfair as legislators who traveled long distances were forced to spend the money on meals and lodging — while those who lived close to the capital city could pocket that money.

Legislators cannot raise their own pay. Instead, and independent Legislative Compensation Commission makes recommendations. Legislators by law may only accept compensation recommended by that commission, or less, but cannot give themselves raises beyond that. For the past four years, the Legislature has rejected the pay increase recommneded by the Commission. With the new proposal, recommended by the independent Commission, lawmakers would get the full $16,380 as simply salary. To receive reimbursement for meals and hotels, they’d have to provide “an audit trail” of receipts subject to public disclosure.

As I stated on the floor, “this bill corrects the egregious problem of state legislators basically receiving money for hotels that they don’t stay in, and for meals that they don’t buy and sometimes for miles that they don’t drive.”

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