Local Politics

Dems Sound Familiar Themes in 2007 Legislative Agenda

Posted March 14, 2007 6:24 p.m. EDT
Updated March 14, 2007 6:45 p.m. EDT

— Nearly two months into the 2007 legislative session, Democratic lawmakers finally laid out their priorities for the session Thursday.

Democrats spent the last several weeks working out committee assignments and getting organized after electing Rep. Joe Hackney, D-Orange, as the new House speaker.

At a news conference Thursday, Democratic lawmakers stood shoulder to shoulder to tout familiar themes -- improving public education, helping low-income families, increasing access to health care, preserving open space and promoting energy efficiency. But they stopped short of detailing specific legislation.

The lawmakers also didn't elaborate on key battleground issues like the death penalty. Caucus members showed no consensus on a moratorium on executions, but they promised to consider direction from the attorney general and the courts on potential reforms to the system.

While promoting education, Democrats revealed no broad agreement on proposed changes to where lottery dollars go, such as shifting more money to pre-kindergarten programs.

With the budget still in flux, they gave no clues on teacher and state worker pay. They said they haven't reached a consensus on budget issues because they don't have all the revenue figures they need.

They offered no new ethics reforms, but Hackney vowed the caucus would lead by example when it comes to conduct.

"Item No. 1 is strengthen people's confidence in government. I say that to emphasize it and to say that it is important," Hackney said.

Republicans are in the minority in the General Assembly, but they're already gearing up for a fight over the budget, taxes and the death penalty.