Things can get a little crazy around the State House in the days leading up to May 1, which is the magic date by which bills have to get bills through one house or the other or leave them for dead this year. And it’s usually a nail-biting time for me, because there’s usually something really, really important that hasn’t made it across the lobby.
Not so this year, as we wrote in our editorial this morning. Which means I get to watch the legislative goings-on for the pure sport of it, and sit back and learn some things.
This year’s lesson come courtesy of Greg Foster, the spokesman for House Speaker Bobby Harrell, who tries to save himself a lot of breath each year by sending out a primer on crossover and who included in his Tuesday missive something that had escaped me:
There’s an “Introduction Deadline” in the House that’s already passed?
Yep, and this one matters because we’re in the second year of a two year session. The House has a Rule (also stated in Rule 5.12) that says a bills must be introduced before April 15th to receive normal consideration on the House Floor during the second year of the two year session. After this deadline, a bill can still be introduced, read for the 1st time and referred to Committee BUT CANNOT be taken up for 2nd reading without first receiving a 2/3 vote in the House (of those Members present and voting) agreeing to its debate.
Similarly, even though the House Members were furloughed the week of this April 15th Deadline, the furlough weeks DID NOT change or back up this Deadline.
So, the House won’t be taking up any newly introduced bills until January. Unless they get a two-thirds vote (which, oh, about 70 percent of the bills that make it out of committee would get, since they pass unanimously). Or they’re single-county bills, of the constitutional or unconstitutional variety. Or they’re congratulatory resolutions.
That last category is exempted from the April 15 deadline for purely practical reasons, as we’d have shut down the Legislature for lack of work if lawmakers didn’t have all the congratulatory resolutions to go through every single day they’re in session.