CThe first month of the legislative session has been a whirlwind of activity. I wanted to share some of the more important things that have happened.
Last week, the governor signed House Bill 2597, also known as “Constitutional Carry.” This allows any person to exercise their Second Amendment right to carry either a concealed or unconcealed firearm. This bill also protects the interest of private property owners by allowing them to decide who can or cannot carry a firearm in their place of business.
To carry, a person must be at least 21 years of age or at least 18 years of age and in the military. They cannot have been convicted of a felony, have an adjudicated mental illness or domestic violence conviction.
The bill still protects the safety of our K-12 schools and still allows college presidents to decide what is best for their campuses as well as in private sports arenas, gambling facilities and government buildings. The bill also maintains current law that requires background checks to purchase firearms and allows for law enforcement officers to inquire if you are carrying a weapon.
This week was also a deadline week. All bills that passed out of their respective committees are now eligible to be heard on the House floor. Those bills that were not heard in committee are now dead until next year. The House started with 1,733 bills and 21 resolutions; 460 were referred out of full committee and five out of the Joint Committee for Appropriations & Budget by the deadline. It is not unusual, especially in the first year of a legislative session, for this amount of bills to be eliminated. As bills go through the process, members will re-work bills that previously did not make it through, in hopes of introducing an improved bill the next year.
Also this week, House Bill 2612, passed off the House floor. With the passage of State Question 788 many questions were left to the Legislature on how to implement the will of the people regarding medical marijuana. This bill is known as the “Unity Bill,” because it brings together the will of the people but also protects public safety.
As we’ve seen in other states that have implemented marijuana policies (both medical and recreational), it is a multi-year undertaking. Legislatures in other states have had to go back every year to adjust and change laws, just like with alcohol modernization, perfecting the laws will take time.
This “Unity Bill,” will provide the foundation for the Health Department to promulgate rules and puts into place measures for proper labeling and seed-to-sale tracking. I have no doubt we will see more medical marijuana bills this year, but with this “Unity Bill,” acting as the agreed-upon framework, we have a solid place from which all legislation will follow.
As always, if you have questions or issues, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (405) 557-7332.