March 30-April 2:
The 2021 Legislative session is roughly at the 2/3 mark with many bills being sent back and forth between the House and Senate. The largest bill of note this past week that is picking up steam and is going to receive a lot of attention this week is House bill H.315. It is titled: An Act relating to COVID-19 Relief. This has been the House’s “fast track” COVID relief bill that has been in the works since February. The bill started out at $75 million in the House, went to the Senate and grew to $104 million, principally due to the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. These are monies from the Federal Government intended for COVID-19 recovery. A key section that was added just this week states: “The purpose of funding appropriated from ARPA in this act is related to addressing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as making investments for a sustained economic recovery. The appropriation of these funds is not intended to create a future funding commitment from other State funds.”
In my Committee, House Corrections and Institutions, we continued taking testimony and working out final language in Senate bill S.18, An act relating to limiting earned good time sentence reductions for offenders convicted of certain crimes. Earned time is time removed from the minimum and maximum sentence for good behavior by inmates in the custody of the Department of Corrections. This bill seeks to ensure inmates that are currently serving time for seven (7) of the heinous crimes did not continue earning time off their sentences. Under the parent bill, which became Act 148 in the last biennium, all inmates can now earn good time, but the difference going forward is that victim notification and participation in the sentencing/plea agreements has impact/bearing on how these crimes are worked in the judicial system. These components did not exist in the past and hence the need for this correction.
Over the next few weeks, I fully expect a multitude of bills to hit the House floor. Stay tuned for updates from Representative Lee Morgan and myself.
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