Back in December I wrote about the Bill filing deadline for the upcoming session and how it was the last time you could sign up to run a piece of legislation. Then, my Senator informed me that it was not the final deadline, but simply the first of many and one where you were just reserving your spot. Sort of like a reservation at a restaurant, when you walk in during rush hour, you want your table to be ready. Only this time you are reserving the Bill number, or the “Title of Law”, so you can fill in the blanks at a later date. OK, not a very good analogy, but you get the idea.
Last Thursday was the deadline for the “fill in the blanks” part of the legislating process. Rather, in official terms, the soft deadline for the language part of the Bill, or an opportunity to turn in a rough draft of your proposed legislation, so to speak. TODAY! is the final deadline for the language that will be put into these Bills. Last Call!
Note to self, this language will also be available for the public to read on Friday, January 16th. I am not sure where you can actually find it, but I will ask my Senator and report back.
At this point, there are roughly 3,000 pieces of legislation that have and will be “filed” and will now be assigned to various House and Senate committees. The committee chairman will evaluate each piece of proposed legislation handed over to them and decide which ones deserve a hearing. That is an awful lot of power in a few hands and an awful lot of politicking that is about to take place.
Here is how the process has worked in previous years. When a Bill was sent to a particular committee, if the author was a “D” (Democrat), the Bill would usually receive a hearing. That is because the D’s were in charge. If the author happened to be an “R” (Republican) legislator, then that particular piece of legislation usually wound up in the Senate graveyard. Why, you ask? Because the R’s were in the minority. Simple enough.
Now that the tables are turned and the R’s are in charge, my Senator is hopeful his team will act with more wisdom than politics, doing what is in the best interest of our great state, not their political party. We’ll see.
So, today we celebrate the last call for the language portion of the some 3,000 pieces of legislation that have been filed for the upcoming legislative session. I can hear the sound of those keyboards and coffee makers right now!