Lawmakers began the new legislative session with a call for cooperation, civility and bipartisanship, even as the General Assembly adjusts to GOP supermajorities in both houses.
Last year, the first day of session was marked by protesters crowding the Statehouse and House Democrats denying a quorum to do business. This year, there were no protesters chanting in the halls or Democrats warring with the Speaker.
New House Minority Leader Scott Pelath asked for moderation from the majority, saying the power of government cannot be dragged too far from the center. He also called for a moratorium on divisive social issues, such as a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage that many expect to be proposed again this session. House Speaker Brian Bosma praised Pelath’s civil tone but said he would not institute a moratorium on any issue before the legislature.
In the Senate, the education committee heard testimony on bills that would require cursive writing instruction in public schools and reward the highest performing schools by freeing them from some state regulation. Republican senators Carlin Yoder and Luke Kenley sparred in the committee over Yoder’s bill to expand the state’s school voucher program by allowing siblings of voucher students to also receive the vouchers without spending a year in public school.