Sunday, March 11, 2012

Deadline Week Is Upon Us. Television has its Sweeps Week, where all the best plot lines get played out in episodes across the dial in search of the highest ratings and the Legislature has Deadline Week, where all bills must be breathing at the end of the week if they are to have a chance to become law during the session. The first deadline is this coming Friday (March 16) and committees will be working overtime to hear as many bills as possible. The deadline applies almost exclusively to policy bills and not finance bills. The third deadline--Friday, March 30--is the date on which all finance bills need to be out of their respective committees.

Deadline week has always been hectic, but it is even moreso in the modern legislature, where almost all bills for which the author has requested a hearing receive one. Back in the day (just call me "Old School"), committee chairs exercised much more discretion over which bills should be heard. Now, if an author wants a hearing, regardless of how odd the concept may appear or how improbable the chances of a bill happening given budget constraints, the bill usually gets a hearing, especially if the author is from the majority party.

One thing to watch this week is whether or not bills passed by a policy committee are sent directly to the floor or re-referred to the corresponding finance committee. If a bill goes to the corresponding finance committee (i.e. from Education Reform to Education Finance in the House), it may be a signal that it is going to be part of the omnibus bill. More on that later.

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