Highlights from the Legislature on Monday
The House gave final approval to a bill allowing employees to take time off to attend school functions for their children. The measure now goes to the Senate. The bill (House Bill 1057) would limit the unpaid leave to 18 hours in any academic year. Leave would be limited to six hours a month and could be taken only in increments of three hours or less. The full Senate gave final approval to allowing preschoolers who now pay 40 cents for reduced-price lunches to instead get their meals for free. Analysts expect only about 40 of the eligible 1,143 children to take advantage because most preschoolers go home before lunch. Last year lawmakers voted to allow reduced-lunch students in kindergarten through second grade to get free lunches, and its possible the nutrition budget could run out of money before the end of the year. The measure (Senate Bill 33) now heads to the House. The Joint Budget Committee voted to back paying a shift differential to state employees who work at night, such as prison guards. Last week, the panel voted to stop the differentials to save about $9.6 million in next years budget. After hearing from workers unhappy about the change, the committee voted to back differentials but lower the amount set aside to $4.4 million. Departments would have to find money elsewhere to make up the difference. The Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee voted 6-1 to back a measure (Senate Bill 85) that would phase out the business personal property tax over 20 years. The bill still has to pass through two other committees, which will examine how many millions of dollars it will cost the state over that period.New bills: Ensure statewide administration of food safety (Senate Bill 172).
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