The Legislature has passed two significant cut-off dates for the Policy and Fiscal Committees. Now, its attention is entirely on floor action to move House bills to the Senate and Senate bills to the House. All this needs to be done by end of day on February 13. This means there will likely be some very late evenings, early mornings, and weekends.
There are far too many bills in the Rules Committees and on the calendars than either chamber can process. Most of the bills will go the wayside simply from lack of time. The majority party has to decide which bills are a priority to pass, which can wait until the next session, and which they disagree with. The minority party does not get to decide which bills are eventually brought up for a vote, but the one bit of leverage they do have is time. If they don’t like a bill the majority wants to vote on, they can simply offer countless amendments and long floor speeches. The majority party cannot limit how many amendments and how many of the minority party speak. This all takes time. The majority party must decide if the bill in question is worth the investment of time. If so, it would mean other bills will go the wayside as time runs out.
Come February 13 – House of Origin cut-off – the majority party often saves a highly controversial bill as the last bill of the day – or a “special order of consideration,” knowing it will take many hours to get through the amendments and speeches. Legislative rules allow that once a bill is brought up it can be debated for any duration of time – even into the next day.
WR will be on the hill communicating with Legislators on bills our members want to see pass and on measures we hope won’t come up for a vote. It is exceedingly rare—if not unheard of—for a bill to be brought up on the floor for a vote and fail. If the majority party doesn’t have the votes to pass something, they simply don’t hold a vote on it.
After February 13, the thousands of bills that were first introduced will be boiled down to a few hundred that are still in play. The one disclaimer is that bills considered “necessary to implement the budget” are immune from all cut-offs and can be considered until they adjourn. The House and Senate budgets have yet to be released.