The 2020 regular legislative session will convene on Monday, January 13, 2020, for a 60-day session. 60-day sessions occur in even-numbered years and are the second half of the biennium, designed to supplement the odd-year, 105-day session. Because 2020 is a major election year, with not only the presidential election but also half of the Senate and all of the House of Representatives up for election, conventional wisdom dictates that session this year will be a less controversial one that will adjourn on schedule.
The Business of Legislating
Meanwhile, the holidays haven’t distracted legislators from filing bills. Called “pre-files,” legislators began submitting bills at the beginning of December. These pre-filed bills, and the other bills yet to be filed, are in addition to all of the bills that did not pass last year, which are automatically reintroduced in the second year of the biennium. Generally, a bill retains the highest status it achieved in its house of origin. For example, if a House bill passes the House but dies in a Senate committee, the bill will revert to the House Rules Committee where it will await passage by the House a second time.
At the beginning of each legislative session, the House and Senate agree to a timeline for considering bills. This timeline is referred to as the “cut-off calendar.” Bills that have not passed certain thresholds by certain dates are deemed “dead” and not subject to further consideration. However, because legislative rules can be “bent” under certain circumstances, no bills are truly dead until the legislature adjourns for good.
While not yet adopted, this year’s cut-off dates are assumed to be:
- February 7, the 26thlegislative day – The last day bills can be voted out of a policy committee in their houses of origin.
- February 11 (Day 30) – The last day bills can be voted out of a fiscal or transportation committee.
- February 19 (day 38) – The last day bills can be voted out of their houses of origin.
- February 28 (Day 47) – The last day bills can be voted out of a policy committee in the opposite house.
- March 2 (Day 50) – The last day a bill can be voted out of a fiscal or transportation committee in the opposite house.
- March 6 (Day 54) – The last day to act on a bill in the opposite house. Bills that have passed both houses in the same form will be sent to the governor for signing into law or veto. Bills that did not pass both houses in the same version need to be reconciled before sine die or will die.
- March 12, the 60thlegislative day – the legislature adjourns sine die.
For More Information
TVW has a wealth of information on its website, including archived hearings and floor debates. Along with the hearings, the Legislative Review airs nightly and provides a 15-minute recap of the day’s events.
The Legislature’s website is also very comprehensive. From the homepage, you can navigate to that day’s hearings or those on future dates, floor activity, member information, and bill information. To review a particular bill, click on “Bill Information” on the left side or “Bills” on the right.