OUR OPINION: Legislature let needed measures die on floor

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2007

Several popular and important measures will not become law this year as legislative inaction caused several bills to die Tuesday night.

The following is a smattering of dead bills we think the Legislature should have seriously considered and at least debated, if not passed into law:

-Tax breaks for small businesses. This bill would have provided modest tax breaks for small businesses who provide health insurance to their employees. This bill was not perfect, but it was a great starting point to help encourage businesses to provided needed medical insurance that would help cut the rising cost of free care at hospitals and state-sponsored health care programs.

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-Double dipping. A bill touted by Gov. Bob Riley, this piece of legislation would have prohibited employees of K-12 schools and two-year colleges from serving in the Legislature or holding statewide office. This bill should be a no-brainer, but it wasn&8217;t.

-Constitutional convention. Needless to say, our Constitution is a bloated, antiquated mess. Giving the people of our state the opportunity to voice their opinion on whether or not we need a convention to rewrite the document should have passed. After all, the bill was only to propose a vote by the people, not to call a convention.

-Lobbying reform. Did we really expect lawmakers to require their sugar daddies to have to report expenditures on public officials? Of course not. But in the interest of public awareness, they should have.

-Hate crimes. This bill would have extended the state&8217;s hate crime law to include sexual orientation. The arguments against this bill were vague attempts at covering a homophobic, bigoted approach to appeasing conservative voters. But we do not believe that conservative voters would decry unwarranted violence brought on simply out of hatred &8212; regardless if it was over race, nationality or even sexual orientation.

-Minimum wage. This bill would have raised the state&8217;s minimum wage higher than the national rate. Given the increase in cost of living over the past decade, this is something that needs serious consideration. The bill considered was far from perfect, but debate should have been allowed. The only way to address the need is to discuss the problem.