Bill Request Deadlines Already?

by Patti Dahlberg

Fall is officially here, which means that the first bill request deadline is just around the corner! True — December 1 is still a few weeks away, but somehow each year time seems to slip away until this first bill request deadline rudely rears its head amidst holidays and about a million other things that need to be taken care of before session starts.

The best way for legislators to avoid finding themselves behind the eight ball on the first of December is to ease into the bill drafting groove now. Legislators have ideas for bills year-round, but during the interim, some tend to mull their ideas over longer than during session, maybe do additional research on their own, or otherwise try to ensure that a concept is “ironclad” before bringing it in for drafting.

This is not necessary as staff is available year-round to assist legislators with the research and drafting of bills. During the bill drafting process, potential issues and problems are exposed, making it easier for the bill sponsor to determine whether a concept is “workable”. Plus, when a bill request is submitted early, and it becomes apparent that the concept isn’t working out to the sponsor’s satisfaction, it can be withdrawn and easily replaced (at least prior to the December deadline).

The interim is the best time to develop, draft, talk with stakeholders, and, yes, withdraw a bill request — especially while there’s time to replace it with a new request.

What legislators need to know about requesting bills:
[see Joint Rule 24(b)(1)(A)]:

  • The Joint Rules allow legislators five bill requests each session. These five bill requests are in addition to any appropriation, committee-approved, or sunset bill requests that a legislator may choose to carry.*
  • In order to make these five bill requests, legislators must submit at least three of them to the OLLS by the first request deadline in December. Legislators can submit the remaining two requests by the second request deadline in January.
  • This year, the December 1 deadline stated in the rules falls on a weekend, so the first bill request deadline is Monday, December 3, 2012. The second bill request deadline is Tuesday, January 15, 2013.
  • If a legislator submits only one request on or before the December deadline, he or she forfeits the other two requests that were due at that time.*
  • Legislators are encouraged to submit more than three requests by the December deadline. By doing so, legislators can withdraw and replace at least one of their requests after the December deadline without losing a request. For example, if a legislator has submitted only the three-request minimum by the December deadline and later withdraws one of those requests, he or she will forfeit that bill request because the rules only allow for two of the five bill requests to be made after the December deadline. On the other hand, if a legislator has submitted four bill requests by the December deadline and later withdraws one of those requests, he or she will be left with three bill requests that meet the early request deadline plus the two requests that can be made after the early bill request deadline — for a total of five bill requests.

* A legislator can ask for permission from the Committee on Delayed Bills to submit additional bill requests or to waive a request deadline.