by Patti Dahlberg
According to Joint Rule 24(b)(1)(A), each session a legislator is allowed five bill requests. These five requests are in addition to any appropriation, committee-approved, or sunset bills that a legislator may choose to carry. Seems simple, doesn’t it? Not so fast. To keep these five bill requests, a legislator’s requests must also meet specific bill introduction deadlines.
Bill introduction deadlines:
A legislator may forfeit a bill request if the bill does not meet specific introduction deadlines.* Before each session starts, 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 before session starts and usually falls on the Friday before the convening date of session. This year the prefile deadline is Friday, January 2, 2015. Each legislator must have one bill delivered to the front desk of the House or the Senate by this date or risk forfeiting a bill request.
The remaining House and Senate early and regular bill introduction deadlines vary by chamber and are listed below:
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 December bill request deadline. But the rule also allows a legislator to choose a bill request submitted after the December request deadline to meet the early bill introduction deadlines.
A legislator’s early bill requests are usually the first three bills the legislator introduces, 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 might 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 bill drafters can prioritize these bills to meet the early introduction deadlines. If the OLLS does not have a legislator’s bill order on record, they will contact the legislator for this information and will continue contacting the legislator until they get the information.
* 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.