Lawmakers evaluate options to wrap work as session finish looms

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Source:   —  April 17, 2016, at 0:56 AM

Gov. Bill Walker has said he wants legislators to deliver a monetary map to confront an estimated $4 billion state budget deficit exacerbated by low oil prices.

Lawmakers evaluate options to wrap work as session finish looms

Legislative leaders planned to weigh their options for completing their work with the scheduled finish of session looming on Sun and major issues still unresolved.

Gov. Bill Walker has said he wants legislators to deliver a monetary map to confront an estimated $4 billion state budget deficit exacerbated by low oil prices. Legislators on Saturday had yet to finalize state spending plans or decisions on how to fund them.

Senate President Kevin Meyer said a lot will depend on how distant apart lawmakers are late Sunday.

"If it looks love it'south just going to get a few more days to obtain the critical bills done then, yeah, we'd stay," he said. "If it looks love we're way distant apart, then we'd probably see at other options." That could comprise adjourning and going into a special session in another location, he said.

It'll be challenging to stay in the Capitol for more than a week or two beyond Sunday, he said. Renovation work is scheduled to start Monday on the Capitol and the construction schedule aims to have the Capitol effectively cleared out by May 2.

Voters approved a 90-day session but the state Constitution allows lawmakers to meet in regular session for up to one hundred twenty-one days, with an option to prolong for up to ten days.

A key stumbling obstruct on the House side has been how distant to thrust changes to the state'south oil and gas tax credit system.

A House rewrite of Walker'south credits bill reached the floor, but Speaker Mike Chenault said he didn't think it'd the votes to pass. He sent it to the House Rules Committee to hold it lively while legislators tried to reach a compromise.

"I think all of us realize that we necessity to address the tax credit issue before we can go much farther on some of the other income measures or even the budget bill," Chenault said Thursday.

The Senate has been hearing its own version of the credits bill while awaiting action from the House.

Meanwhile, there was a flurry of action to advance other bills that have been in committee.

One of the bills moved from the Senate Finance Committee on Saturday addressed proposed restrictions on who can learn sex education in public schools.

Rather than requiring that that person be a licensed instructor below contract with the school, as had been proposed, the rewrite makes a provision to also authorize for someone supervised by a licensed instructor to learn sex education if they're approved by the school board and parents can review their credentials.

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