The PACE legislation not only made it into a committee, it passed on the House floor. It was perfected–that is to say that the House passed its version–but it didn’t pass as a stand alone bill. PACE was part of an Omnibus bill, HB 1871. Sadly. The sad part is that the bill also contained a dirty little secret. The Sierra Club says that the final provision of the bill is:
a policy to allow companies to divulge illegal emissions or spills to the Dept of Natural Resources and thereby keep the emission or spill secret from the public unless it poses a danger to human health or the environment (“Audit Privilege”).
Jill Schupp, who sponsored the PACE legislation in the House was torn when her idea came up for a vote in that Omnibus bill, but she voted for it. Tough call.
So what happens now? The Senate passed its PACE bill, as a stand alone, out of committee, but it hasn’t put that on the calendar. Several possibilities emerge then–leaving the future of this idea looking like a ball balanced on someone’s nose: he leans left then frantically backpedals so that you never know when the ball may topple off. The Senate might put its own PACE bill on the calendar and vote on that, ignoring the House Omnibus bill. Then it could send the PACE bill to the House. Or it might take up the Omnibus bill, possibly even eliminating (but don’t count on it!) the dirty little secret provision. If the Senate were to pass the House bill without changes, then it’s law. If it amends the House bill, then a conference committee takes it up.
But with less than a month to go, PACE’s fate this year is very iffy. The guy with the upturned nose? He might just walk away and leave PACE bouncing on the pavement until it settles in one spot, waiting to be picked up again next year.