The year’s General Assembly session will last for 90 days, after it started at noon on Wednesday January 12… and is scheduled to run through midnight on Monday, April 11. Let’s look at some of the important milestone dates between now and then.
Major dates of interest:
January 18 (7th Day) — SENATE AND HOUSE BILL REQUEST GUARANTEE DATE
Legislators seeking to introduce bills are asked to place requests with bill drafter by this time to guarantee delivery in time for the chambers’ introduction deadlines. Stakeholders seeking to work with supportive legislators are aware of this date as an informal “cutoff” for new ideas for the current session.
February 7 (27th Day) — SENATE BILL INTRODUCTION DATE
February 11 (31st Day) — HOUSE BILL INTRODUCTION DATE
Bills introduced after this date referred to the Rules Committee of the appropriate chamber, requiring an additional hearing and process before being released to the appropriate policy committee. An obstacle, though in recent years a generally surmountable one.
In the month of February, with all bills introduced and assigned to policy committees, the most intensive work of the General Assembly will take place in committees, where the public hearings are conducted to gain stakeholder input, and refinements to legislation are resolved where warranted.
March 15 (63rd Day) — COMMITTEE REPORTING COURTESY DATE
March 21 (69th Day) — OPPOSITE CHAMBER CROSSOVER DATE
By these dates, where there is sentiment to pass a bill, it should be “moving” — out of its original committee by March 15, and out of its chamber of origin by the following week. Again, not hard-and-firm deadlines, but in general this is a busy stage of the session with both chambers working long hours in committee and on their respective floors to complete work on bills they seek to pass.
The days leading up to “crossover” are reliably among the busiest and most stressful of each session.
April 11 (90th Day) — ADJOURNMENT “SINE DIE” (Monday)
The session ends at midnight Monday, and any legislation not completely through the full approval process by that time is defeated. The Governor then has a period of time to consider signing/vetoing legislation, and proposals that do not become law may be re-introduced at the next General Assembly session to begin the full introduction/hearing process again.
For more on the session schedule and related terminology, check out the January 2018 episode of MACo’s Conduit Street Podcast titled “Session 101” — a handy walk-through of terms and timetables for county officials and anyone following legislative activity. (Note – all the descriptions in the podcast are accurate, but mentions of dates are pinned to the 2018 session… just adjust forward by three days for the right date this year, for example 2018’s Adjournment was April 9, this year it’s April 11)