Bill requests in? Now you’re ready for the bill introduction shuffle.

by Patti Dahlberg

According to Joint Rule 24(b)(1)(A), every legislator is allowed five bill requests each session. These five bill requests are in addition to any appropriation, committee-approved, or sunset bills that a legislator may choose to carry — seems pretty simple doesn’t it?

Not so fast. In order to keep these five bill requests, a legislator’s bill requests must also meet specific bill introduction deadlines.

Bill introduction deadlines
Bill requests can be forfeited if they do not meet specific introduction deadlines.*  Prior to the start of each session, a legislator must decide which one of his or her bill requests will be a prefile bill, which two will meet the early bill deadlines, and which two will meet the regular bill deadlines.

The prefile deadline is five days prior to the start of session, usually the Friday before session starts. This year the prefile deadline is Friday, January 4, 2013. Each legislator must have one bill delivered to the front desk of the House or the Senate by this date.

The House and Senate early and regular bill introduction deadlines vary by chamber and are listed below:

Bill orders
A legislator’s “bill order”is the order in which his or her bills are introduced. Joint Rule 23 (a) indicates that a legislator should choose his or her prefile bill and two early bills from the three requests made by the earlier December deadline. But the rule also allows a legislator to choose a bill request made after the December deadline to meet the early bill introduction deadlines.

Generally speaking, a legislator’s early bill requests are usually the legislator’s early bills for purpose of introduction because a bill submitted by the earliest request deadline is more likely to be further along in the drafting process than a bill request that’s submitted later. But sometimes an early bill request may be more complicated than expected. In this case, the legislator may choose a relatively simple “regular” bill request (i.e., a request submitted after the December deadline) to be one of his or her early bills; then the legislator has more time to work on the more complicated early bill request.

The Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS) encourages legislators to designate their prefile bill and early introduction bills (i.e., the bill order) as soon as possible so that the Office can prioritize these bills accordingly to meet the early introduction deadlines. If the OLLS does not have a legislator’s bill order on record, the Office will contact the legislator for this information and will continue contacting the legislator until the information is received.

Legislators should submit more than three requests by the December bill request deadlines to allow themselves more flexibility in submitting and withdrawing bill requests and deciding bill orders.

•    Having five bill requests submitted early allows a legislator to withdraw and replace up to two of those bill requests before the second bill request deadline (in January) as long as the legislator also has three bills that meet the prefile and early bill introduction deadlines.

•    The legislator with five bill requests submitted by the December deadline has more choices when selecting his or her prefile bill and two early bills.

•    The legislator with five bill requests drafted early can base his or her bill order on which bill he or she wants to introduce early instead of which bill can be drafted in time.

*  A legislator can ask for permission from the Committee on Delayed Bills to put in additional bill requests or to waive a specific bill introduction deadline to a different date.