Indy Explains: Legislative deadlines and dying bills

The Legislature can turn into a mad rush as deadlines near. But how hard and fast are those deadlines, and do bills ever really die?

The Indy explains:

What are the legislative deadlines?

April 14 (68th day of the session): Bills must pass out of a committee in their house of origin

April 25: (79th day of the session):  Bills must pass out of their house of origin

May 19 (103rd day of the session): Bills must pass out of a committee in their second house

May 26 (110th day of the session): Bills must pass out of their second house

Who sets them?

Deadlines are found in the joint standing rules approved early in each legislative session by both houses.

What does the committee passage deadline mean?

The only action the committee may take on a bill after that deadline is to re-refer it to the Senate Finance Committee or the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, and then only if the bill is “exempt.”

What are exemptions?

Exemptions remove deadlines for bills with a financial impact. Bills that contain a monetary appropriation, authorize spending that isn’t appropriated from the state general fund or highway fund, increase fiscal liability for the state, implement a budget decision or significantly reduce any revenue coming to the state all qualify.

Bills that are exempt are printed with the term exempt and maintained on this list.

What are emergency requests?

Legislative leaders are allowed to make a certain number of emergency requests at any time after the session begins. Those aren’t subject to any committee or house passage deadlines that other bills face.

The Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker can each make 10 of these bill draft requests, either on their own behalf or on someone else’s.

The Senate Minority Leader and the Assembly Minority Leader can each submit three of these bill draft requests.

The emergency request allotment is above and beyond the normal number of bill draft requests that legislative leaders get.

Those bills are marked with the phrase “EMERGENCY REQUEST OF.”

What are waivers?

If the Senate Majority Leader and the Assembly Speaker agree, at any point in the session, they can choose to waive portions of the rules that 1) set a timeline for giving bill drafters the information they need to draft  a bill or 2) set deadlines for bill introduction and passage.

A majority of members on a committee must approve a request for a waiver on behalf of that committee.

Do bills actually die?

If a bill fails to make a deadline, lawmakers could bring it back by crafting an amendment and including it in another bill. The Legislative Counsel Bureau is not supposed to draft an amendment if the subject matter is unrelated to the subject expressed in the title of the bill.

It’s not safe to declare that any bill, or portion of a bill, is truly dead until the Legislature adjourns sine die at the end of 120 days.