House floor action yesterday
Fri April 24, 2009 8:20 am

The calendar was long (by previous standards) but not weighty. Two bills are worth mentioning.

HB 1866 by Solomons. I know something about this bill because of a meeting with advocates for electric utilities. They don’t like it. (The utilities used to be known as the “eels,” but the term has disappeared in the deregulated era). The issue involves customers who generate their own energy, typically with solar power. The customers argue that they should be allowed to interconnect and sell their renewable energy to the grid. Customers want to be paid at the same price as they have to pay for electricity. The bill directs the PUC to make rules for the interconnection. Utilities and coops wanted to be able to set the price. This is a good bill, if not world-changing, but the test will come when the PUC decides how and by whom the price will be set.

HB 281 by Anchia and others. The bill sought to improve an existing program that allows school districts to receive grants for school-based health centers. Any time the word “health” is juxtaposed with the word “school” you know that Republicans are going to bring up the “A” word, and sure enough, Phil King offered an amendment directing that none of the funds can go to an organization that performs abortions. The amendment was acceptable to the author. Not content with victory, someone, presumably a Republican, shouted out a demand for a record vote. The Democrats didn’t fall for the bait. The amendment went on by a vote of 136-0. The House is in such a good mood post-Craddick that you can’t even get a fight started over abortion these days. The bill ran into a little heavy weather when Hartnett noted that some reporting requirements had been deleted. Zerwas, one of the authors of the bill, went to the back microphone with questions to Coleman that eased concerns.

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