If you have read our first deadline breakdown then you are now an expert on the first round of Senate deadlines and what they mean. However, buckle up because here we go again with Senate Deadlines Take Two. Once a bill makes it through the process in one chamber (either the Senate or the House) the bills switch chambers and start the process all over again. If you thought the first set of deadlines were confusing, just wait.
Second Reading Deadline: Monday, April 15
After a bill passes out of a committee with a majority vote it is read for the second time front of the Senate. The bill is then called down by the bill’s sponsor, which is a member of the opposite chamber from where the bill originated, and is explained before the entire Senate. This is the last time that a piece of legislation can be amended. The deadline in the Senate for bills to be read for the second time is Monday, April 15.
Third Reading Deadline: Tuesday, April 16
Once a bill is read and amended or moved during its second reading by the opposite chamber, the sponsor must wait until at least the next session day to call the bill down for a third and final time in front of the Senate. A piece of legislation on third reading can no longer be amended and must be voted on as is. This vote is crucial because if a bill passes here it only has one more hurdle to pass before it can be signed into law. Your second date to remember is Tuesday, April 16. Contact your legislators before this deadline and urge them to vote for or against a piece of legislation because if the bill passes, there is little opportunity left to kill a bill you oppose.
Alright so this is by far the most complicated and fast paced part of the legislative session. When a bill is amended in the opposite chamber the author of the bill can either concur with the amendment(s), meaning they agree with it, or dissent with the changes, meaning they disagree to the amendment(s) made to their bill. If the author concurs the bill will move back to the original chamber for a final vote of the full body. However, if the author dissents to the amendments, the bill is assigned to a conference committee. These committees are made up of one person from every caucus and they compromise on amendments made in either chamber. After all conferees sign off on the bill, it goes back to each chamber for a final vote from both bodies. Both chambers must agree on the same version of a bill before it can be signed by the governor.
Sine Die literally translates to “without a day” and is the very last day for all pieces of legislation to be voted on. If a bill is not voted on by this day, constitutionally the bill cannot move further in the process to become law. Sine Die often goes late into the night and sometimes the majority party tries to adjourn a day or two before the constitutional requirement to avoid the hard midnight deadline. The constitutional deadline this year is April 29, but both the Senate and the House plan to finish their work before then. After Sine Die, legislators return home to their districts for the interim.
There you have it folks. You’ve reached the finish line and are an expert on Senate deadlines. Use your new knowledge to call your legislators and get informed on all of the pieces of legislation still making their way through the legislature. Ready, set, GO!