Here I Sit. It's 8:30 PM on Thursday night and I am seated here in the luxurious lobbyist room at the Capitol listening to House debate HF 1812--the omnibus budget balancing act. We have passed the "thirty mark" in terms of amendments and there appears to be no end in sight to the discussions that will take place this evening. Several of the amendments have passed, but most have suffered the ignominy of straight party-line defeat.
Whenever there is a bill that encompasses all of state government, you are going to see a wide range of amendments and we've seen everything this afternoon and evening from compensatory funding, cap-and-trade carbon emission limits, the California car exhaust laws, and the birth control pill RU-486. As we sit here right now, compensatory funding is being flogged by the Republicans in an attempt to spread the revenue differently and, guess what, it isn't going to pass!
The Senate passed its version of the omnibus budget balancing package earlier today with far less fanfare. It was such a snoozer that the bill was approved on a voice vote (seeing it was a motion to pass and final passage, a roll call was not necessary). There were a ton of roll call votes there as well (28 amendments were offered), but the House has a heavier load limit on amendments it seems, meaning that we're sitting here watching a barrage of suggested changes to the bill.
I've been blogging for awhile here and in that time, we're surpassed the 40 amendment mark. If there are many more amendments, I swear that Lasse Viren will be offering them. Don't know who Lasse Viren is, check it out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lasse_Viren
The Senate has adjourned for the week, meaning the process will go like this. The House will pass the omnibus budget bill this evening. It will be reported to the Senate next Monday, where the language the Senate debated earlier today will be amended to the House bill jacket. The House bill jacket with the new language will then be returned to the House. There will be differences in the bills, meaning there will be a conference committee beginning early next week.
Bonding Bill to Governor. The bonding bill is now before the Governor and the Governor has several options in dealing with the bill. The Governor can either sign the bill as it is, which is unlikely because the bill is approximately $100 million above his budget target. He could line-item veto projects of which he disapproves and bring the total amount spent down to his target. The other alternative, currently the most likely option he will pursue, will be to veto the entire bill. Can the bill be overridden? Good question. There are obviously a lot of projects in the bill that affect Republican legislators. Whether or not those individual Republican legisalators would vote for an override remains to be seen, especially given the fact that we are seven weeks out from the constitutionally mandated adjournment date of May 19.
Again, I will keep you posted as things unfold.