Sponsors and Deadlines and Bills, Oh My!

by Darren Thornberry and Patti Dahlberg

To sponsor, or not to sponsor – WHEN is the question. But there’s no time to sully soliloquies when bill deadlines are upon us and zipping by. Perhaps new and returning legislators, capitol staff, and the public may all find a primer on sponsoring bills to be useful.checklist

If you like it, then you better put your name on it.
First things first: Legislators who intend to sponsor a bill, whether as a prime, joint prime, or co-sponsor, have to let the drafter know! Our tenacious drafters will do just about everything short of sending a raven to verify the wishes of a potential bill sponsor, so here’s to e-mails checked, cell phones on, and plans plainly stated.

We hope you’re not surprised to learn that the 2016 Legislative Session convenes next Wednesday, January 13. Legislators must have begun working on their bill requests and their bills’ order of introduction long before the mighty bang of the gavel starts the session.

In fact, by the first day of session legislators already should have:

  • ▢  Their first three (of the five allowed by rule) bill requests in the system and drafted.
  • ▢  Decided which of their bills will be their “prefile” or first bill introduced, and have turned it in for introduction. (Deadline is Friday, January 8 – yikes.)
  • ▢  Decided which two of their bills will meet the other early introduction deadline and have them drafted and ready or close to ready for introduction. (Introduction deadlines are Friday, January 15, for Senate bills and Tuesday, January 19, for House bills.)

SPONSORSHIP FAQ: No need to sweat the rules about five-bill limits and joint prime sponsorship. Follow these checklists to sponsorship bliss!

Five-bill limit.

  • ▢  The joint rules limit legislators to five bills, excluding any committee or sunset bills. [Joint Rule 24 (b) (1) (A)]
  • ▢  House members can be a prime or joint prime sponsor on as many Senate bills as they desire because second house bills do not count against the five-bill limit. [Joint Rule 24 (b) (1) (C)]
  • ▢  Senate members can be a prime or joint prime sponsor on as many House bills as they desire because second house bills do not count against their five-bill limit. [Joint Rule 24 (b) (1) (C)]
  • ▢  Legislators who want to request more than the five bills allowed by rule must obtain permission to do so from their house’s Leadership. [Joint Rule 24 (b) (1) (A)]

Joint Prime Sponsorship.

  • ▢  Joint prime sponsorship means two legislators in the same house decide to jointly and equally sponsor a bill through that house’s legislative process.
  • ▢  Joint prime sponsorship counts against both legislators’ five-bill limit in the first house. A legislator cannot be added as a joint prime sponsor in the first house if that legislator has already submitted five bill requests, unless that legislator first obtains permission from Leadership.
  • ▢  Joint prime sponsorship in the second house does not count against the five-bill limit for either legislator.
  • ▢  Legislators must decide to jointly prime sponsor a bill before the bill is introduced in the applicable house.
  • ▢  Both joint prime sponsors must verify their desire to be joint prime sponsors with the bill’s drafter or with the OLLS front office staff.
  • ▢  Joint prime sponsorship is indicated on the bill by the word “and” (in bold) between the first two names listed as sponsors.
  • ▢  The rules for joint prime sponsorship are similar for the House (House Rule 27A) and the Senate (Senate Rule 24A).

One Last Thing: The regular bill request deadline is Tuesday, January 19. Best to have a good idea now of what your regular bill requests will be!

Bill Requests 2