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When legislators reconvene on April 2, they will have roughly six weeks remaining in the 2013 regular session to complete their work.
(Published Apr 1, 2013)
With the passing of last week’s second policy committee deadline, the focus of the Legislature will change. In the week before the first deadline, one lobbyist counted that more than 600 bills were considered by committees in the House and Senate. Last week before the second deadline, more than 530 bills were scheduled for hearings.
The policy committee deadlines have significantly reduced the number of bills actively being considered by the Minnesota Legislature. House members have introduced 1,661 bills, and senators have introduced 1,511 bills this session. Although not all of these bills were affected by the first and second committee deadlines (tax, bonding, and budget bills are not impacted), there are currently far fewer bills under active consideration.
In the House, 163 bills are on the General Register, which is the list of bills that have been passed by all relevant committees and now await action by the full House. Prior to each floor session, the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee designates bills for floor action by placing bills on the Calendar for the Day or on the Fiscal Calendar. Time permitting, the bills are debated, amended, and passed in one day.
Similar to the House, Senate bills that have been passed by all relevant committees are placed on General Orders. Currently, there are 151 bills on General Orders. However, the Senate uses a different procedure to process bills on the floor. The Senate Rules and Administration Committee designates bills for action by the full Senate. Then Senate members, acting as the Committee of the Whole, have a chance to debate the legislation and offer amendments. After debate and markup, the Senate votes to recommend the bill for passage, progress (or delayed action), to refer the bill back to committee for further action, or to recommend that a bill not pass. After favorable action by the Committee of the Whole, the bill is placed on the Calendar. Bills on the Calendar must then receive a final vote. Bills on the Calendar can be debated, but cannot be amended.
Over the next several weeks, the House and Senate will begin the process of taking final floor action on bills on the House General Register and the Senate General Orders. Policy bills that did not meet the committee deadlines can still be revived if they are favorably acted on by the House and Senate Rules committees, but few bills, if any, proceed on their own if they have missed a deadline. It is more common for the language of a dead bill to be amended onto another bill that covers a similar subject area. That is why no bill is truly “dead” until the session adjourns.
When the Minnesota Legislature reconvenes on April 2, roughly six weeks will remain in the 2013 regular legislative session. The committees will move quickly from the discussions of policy bills into discussions of the state budget and the omnibus tax bills. The third committee deadline, which is set for April 19, is the deadline for committees to act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.
The Legislature must complete its work by May 20, the deadline set by the Minnesota Constitution.
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Contact Gary Carlson
(651) 281-1255 or (800) 925-1122
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