Mid-Prairie school district is slated to received an additional $228,000 in transportation funding from the recently passed education spending bill.
Education spending, gun control and judicial selection were all topics of discussion among area legislators during a briefing at the Washington County Courthouse Saturday morning.
District 78 State Rep. Jarad Klein (R-Keota) noted that the bill increases education spending by 2 percent and helps provide more transportation money to rural school districts.
“We did a real shift for transportation equity,” Klein said, noting that the Mid-Prairie school district should see an additional $228,000 for transportation.
District 84 State Sen. Rich Taylor (D-Mount Pleasant) painted a different picture of the spending bill, noting that the state used to allocate 60 percent of the budget for education compared to 55 percent in the new bill.
“We do have the money,” Taylor said. “We just don’t have our priorities quite right.”
Legislators also discussed the bill currently working its way through the Legislature that would change the selection process for judges.
The bill, introduced by Republicans, gives the Legislature and the governor more control in the selection process.
“Right now, all the power is with a handful of attorneys,” Klein said. “This brings in elected officials who are accountable to the voters.”
District 39 State Sen. Kevin Kinney (D-Oxford) pointed out that the state’s current system was added to the state Constitution in 1962 and has been praised throughout the country.
“Attorneys know who is well-versed in the law,” Kinney said. “I’m worried about money coming into the process and taking over who is appointed.”
Taylor added, “I don’t want my car mechanic telling me who the best surgeon in the county is.”
Freshman District 84 State Rep. Joe Mitchell (R-Wayland) argued that on the federal level, presidents, including Obama and Trump, get to pick judicial nominees, and the that governor should also have that power.
Legislators also differed in opinion regarding a bill in the Senate that would eliminate the requirement to obtain a permit to buy or carry a handgun.
Kinney, a former sheriff’s deputy, said he has concerns about eliminating the permit requirements.
“I believe we should require people to show proficiency,” he said.
Klein noted that the bill has yet to make it to the House and called eliminating all permits “problematic.”
“Complete permitless carry is not moving through the House at this time,” Klein said.
Taylor, who has a permit to carry, said the bill could actually hurt law-abiding gun owners because they would lose their ability to carry handguns in other states.
Mitchell added, “We need to make it easier for law-abiding citizens to get a permit.”