"There are important things of conscience that come before us <t40>...<t$> a religious exemption is absolutely critical," House Minority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, said during that debate. "What we're talking about is the government putting you in a difficult position, putting a parent in a difficult position."
Perdue's committee also voted in early March to amend a bill so it allowed raw milk sales. State agriculture officials had reported that raw milk from Pennsylvania caused an illness outbreak in West Virginia and at least two other states last summer. But during that debate, Lane cited how 20 states ban sales and that federal figures show 122 outbreaks between 1993 and 2006. Of the 1,576 people who got sick, 202 were hospitalized.
"In 30 states across the country, out of that large population that has raw milk available to them, 202 people became sick enough from drinking it to go to the hospital," Lane told fellow committee members. "I think we can make this decision on our own."
Lane believes the November election results reflected a concern among voters about overreach, whether by legislators or government agencies. He estimated that the rules for the various agencies and programs at the Department of Health and Human Resources, for instance, clock in at 2,500 pages.
"That is law that is made by the administrative agency, and that has expanded over the years," Lane said. "And as that flows, I think there's now an understanding among elected members that it has become an overreach and maybe time for it to ebb back the other way."
But Lane also said the committees this session have also seen a bipartisan questioning of proposals.
"While sometimes it can be a sort of partisan debate up there, sometimes you'll have the most conservative and most liberal members of the committee both questioning a similar issue in the bill," Lane said.
"I appreciate that, and I think that creates a better byproduct, when there is that interest in how far does this go, how far should this go, is this really the right policy for our citizens and for the state, and is it going to move us forward or is it going to hold us back?"
Associated Press writer David Gutman contributed to this report.