House and Senate leaders say they’re looking forward to a less contentious legislative session than the past two years as the General Assembly convenes today.
The last two sessions saw sweeping education reforms, right-to-work legislation, abortion bills and immigration measures that created significant conflict between Republicans and Democrats in the legislature.
Now, the GOP holds a supermajority in both houses. Neither House or Senate Republicans campaigned with promises of pursuing an aggressive social agenda, but House Minority Leader Scott Pelath wonders if the majority party can restrain themselves.
“Will they be able to resist? Now that they have these supermajorities, are they going to want to indulge themselves in everything that they ever dreamed about doing?” Pelath says.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long says his caucus’ focus is on creating jobs, increasing school safety and keeping the state on a strong fiscal path. And he says, even without a supermajority, past legislatures haven’t shied away from potentially controversial issues.
“We still have to make sure we take of our priorities but we’ll also have other issues to discuss as well and it really will be the will of our caucus in the Senate and the House Republican caucus to determine how far they go,” Long says.
Potential sources of controversy in the session include a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and a bill allowing prayer in public schools.