By the time you read this, a quarter of the 120-day 2020 legislative session will be in the rear view mirror. Time does fly when you are having fun.
Committee calendars are loading up with as many as four or five bills per committee hearing.
The hearings run for hours as the first tsunami of bills work their way through the system.
For any of you that may need a refresher on how the system works – here it is:
A bill is read across the chamber desk for the 1st reading and assigned to a committee. The committee of reference is the only place where the public can testify on the bill.
If the bill passes committee, it goes to the floor for the 2nd reading. Second readings are where members of the legislature debate the bill. A bill that makes it through 2nd reading will face a recorded 3rd reading vote on the chamber floor.
A bill that passes 3rd reading in the first chamber is sent on to the opposite chamber where it starts the process all over again. If the bill survives the process in the second chamber, it goes to the governor for his approval or veto.
The combination to unlocking successful legislation is: 33-18-1.
A majority of 33 votes in the House, a majority of 18 votes in the Senate and the Governor’s signature. With a docket of 600-700 bills to be heard, it is easy to see why long hours are on the horizon…
Going into week 2 of my bills being heard in committee, I am 2-0! HB 20-1032 (Timing K-12 Education Standards Review) and HB 20-1015 (Future Educator Pathways Grant Program) both passed out of Education Committee last week.
One thing I did not mention in the explanation above is that bills are often assigned to multiple committees.
If a bill has a fiscal note (requires dollars) it is also assigned to Finance and/or Appropriations Committees. You do not break into an extended happy dance after the first committee.
It is a long, winding road to reach 33-18-1.
This week is another big week in the House Education Committee.
We have a total of 11 bills – 5 of them are mine. HB 20-1128 (Educator Education Requirements special Education), HB 20-1053 (Supports for Early Childhood Educator Workforce), HB 20-1011 (Helping Others Manage Early Childhood “HOME” Act), HB 20-1016 (Increase Quaiity In Early Childhood Education Programs and HB 20-1043 (Income Tax Credit For Early Childhood Education Fix) were all on the Tuesday “Early Childhood” agenda.
As if 5 bills in one day were not enough for the week, I also had HB 20-1101 (Assisted Living Residence Referrals) in the Public Health Care & Human Services Committee on Wednesday!
One of my earlier columns mentioned the word kerfuffle – well, the Senate had their first big kerfuffle last Thursday.
Senators had their showdown vote on abolishing the death penalty (SB 20-100). In spite of public opinion overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty and Sen. Fields’ (whose son’s killer is on death row) passionate appeals, the Senate voted 19-15 in favor of the bill. Republican Senators Tate, Hill and Priola all supported the bill. Opponents pushed the argument of allowing the issue to be put to a vote of the people – the argument fell on deaf ears.
The fight will eventually come to the House where the D’s hold an insurmountable majority of 41-25.
Rep. Dave Williams threw down the gauntlet by saying, “If the Democrats refuse to let the people decide, then I will do whatever I can to block the House chamber. I will debate; I will filibuster. I’ll have bills read at length.”
I do not use 5 Hour Energy bottles, but maybe I can find an old box of No Doz laying around somewhere…