Archive for December 13th, 2005

Bill filing and the legislative calendar

legislationThis weekend was the final deadline for House members to submit bills to the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) for drafting.

According to the Rules of the House (pdf), no bills (except budget bills) may be filed until they have been submitted to LSA for the purpose of checking for correct form, subject matter, etc. Once the bills are in official draft form, they can be filed with the Clerk of the House and then must be assigned by the Speaker to a committee within ten days.

The final deadline for filing bills in the House is January 10, 2005, and House Rule 109.2 limits the number of bills filed in the second regular session (the so-called “short” session) to just five per member.

Because the drafting deadline has now passed, the listing of House bills should soon start filling out.

I have submitted my drafts and they are currently being prepared for filing. As they become available, I will make updates here about each of them.

The “short” session can be difficult because all legislative work is compressed into an incredibly tight timeframe. For example, according to this year’s preliminary legislative calendar (pdf), the last day for assigning bills to House committees is January 20th, and the final day for third reading (final passage) in the House is February 2nd. That leaves only two or three weeks for all bills to be heard by committee, amended and passed in one chamber.

Hoosiers deserve a more thoughtful and deliberative process than that. We can keep a part-time citizen Legislature, and still give adequate consideration to new legislation and provide oversight of the Executive branch agencies (which is now effectively non-existent).

It might make more sense to allow committees to meet at any time throughout the year to take testimony, and allow bills to be filed year-round. The Legislature could then spend far more time hearing public input and crafting compromise legislation.

The current summer study committee structure is helpful, but most of the members are not elected representatives. The work and policy recommendations they generate can be overlooked because not enough legislators (who actually write the legislation) are involved in the process.

The General Assembly is comprised of dedicated and conscientious public servants that I am proud to serve with. However, spending time ironing out difficult points of law takes time, and the compressed nature of the legislative session does a disservice to the citizens of Indiana. Hopefully, we can make changes in the future to strengthen and improve the branch of government that is the most direct representative of the people.

4 comments December 13th, 2005


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