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|Riser: Move up session start|
State Sen. Neil Riser wants his colleagues in the Legislature to get more quickly focused on their constituents' bidding each year — and he'll propose a bill to do just that when the Legislature comes into session next April.
Riser said he will propose moving the start date of the regular session from April 15 to sometime in late January.
"There's no reason for us to wait to go to work until April to do the people's business," said Riser, R-Columbia. "I'd like to see us move the session earlier so that we can go ahead and get to work."
Riser said the move would be more in line with what already happens elsewhere in the country.
"Other states go into session in January and start their business at the beginning of the new year," Riser said.
The 2008 Regular Session is "an off year" — or a session where lawmakers are limited to mostly fiscal matters.
Unlike 2007, where legislators could file limitless bills and amendments — more than 1,900 in the 2007 regular session alone — lawmakers will be limited to just five non-spending bills.
Riser said he expects it will take all five of his bills to iron out the various details changes needed in order to move the start date of the session.
So far, Riser said he was encouraged by what he has heard about the proposal from colleagues in both houses and across the party aisle.
"I've talked to both sides, both houses, and there has been a lot of support and some opposition," Riser said. "The opposition I have had has been concerned over Mardi Gras."
Riser scoffed at the suggestion the Legislature should plan its schedule around the Mardi Gras season and said lawmakers don't make similar concessions for crawfishing or hunting season or family vacations.
He added Mardi Gras is just such an event.
"To me, that's not a legitimate concern," Riser said.