[r72] A Clere view of the Statehouse: List was just the beginning (2/7/2011)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Start Date: 2/7/2011 All Day
End Date: 2/7/2011
In last week's column, I included a list of almost 100 House bills. I provided the list to give readers an idea of the wide range of subjects addressed by proposed legislation. In all, between the House and Senate, more than 1,100 bills were filed this session.

I received a number of comments from readers who appreciated the list. As always, I welcome feedback, and I was glad to hear from folks who found the list helpful. Some said they were going to keep it for reference. I want to emphasize that it was just a partial list. For a complete list of all bills, go to www.in.gov/legislative, click on "Bills & Resolutions" and then click on "Complete Information for All Bills."

If you do not have Internet access, my legislative assistant, Clinton Bohm, will be happy to mail you a list. Just call him at 1-800-382-9841. He can also help if you are interested in a particular issue and would like to track legislation related to that issue.

The session started Jan. 5 and is likely to continue through April 29, which is the deadline for adjournment. Indiana operates on a two-year budget, and odd-numbered years are budget years, so this year's session is a so-called long session. In even-numbered years, the legislature meets for a short session, which must end by March 14.

When the legislature is in session, both the House and Senate meet Monday through Thursday most weeks, with floor sessions - which is when each chamber meets as a body - on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wednesdays are usually reserved for committee meetings. On rare occasion, such as the governor's State of the State address, the two chambers meet together in joint session.

For every session day, each chamber publishes a calendar, which is a list of bills eligible for action. The calendar is also available online; click on "Floor Calendars." It's usually posted a day ahead of time, with Monday's calendar posted by the previous Friday.

There were 37 bills on yesterday's House calendar, including the first Senate bill of the session to make it to the House floor. Senate Bill 32 passed the Senate two weeks ago and a House committee last week. The bill would establish the use of vote centers as an option for all counties. Vote centers allow voting in centralized locations during an extended period of time. The approach is intended to increase convenience for voters while also reducing election expense. The legislation follows a pilot program which was introduced in three counties and is on track to become law in time for counties statewide to be able to implement vote centers as soon as the May primary election.

When a bill is on second reading, any member of the House (or, in the case of the Senate, any member of the Senate) may propose an amendment. If an amendment receives the support of the majority of the members, the bill is altered accordingly. House Speaker Brian Bosma has emphasized the role of committees and has expressed a preference for committees to work out issues before a bill reaches the floor whenever possible. Sometimes there is still a need to clean up an issue by amendment, or there is a last-minute idea to make a bill better. Second-reading amendments also present the best opportunity for the minority party to force votes on political issues, and that happens a lot.

19 bills were on yesterday's House calendar for second reading:

House Bill 1020 - Commission on mental illness and addictions.
HB 1054 - Crimes outside Title 35.
HB 1083 - Child solicitation.
HB 1097 - Lake management work group.
HB 1121 - Unused medication.
HB 1128 - Renewable energy resource.
HB 1130 - Opportunity to correct violation.
HB 1137 - Extra heavy duty highways.
HB 1171 - Medicaid verification and claims.
HB 1183 - Indiana business price preferences.
HB 1187 - Satellite manure storage structures.
HB 1201 - Release of adoption information.
HB 1215 - Closed circuit television testimony.
HB 1242 - Various election law matters.
HB 1325 - Repeals requirement to produce ID for alcohol purchases.
HB 1340 - Adult education.
HB 1348 - Soil and water conservation districts.
HB 1366 - Northwest Indiana bus commission.
HB 1371 - Joint committee on transportation infrastructure.
HB 1418 - Child protection registry.

When a bill is on third reading, it is said that the bill is on its final passage. Bills can be amended on third reading, but it requires a two-thirds majority and is rarely done. If a House bill passes on third reading, it goes to the Senate for further consideration, and vice versa. Sixteen bills were on yesterday's House calendar for third reading:

HB 1017 - Unused medication.
HB 1018 - Smoking ban in public places.
HB 1019 - Training for child suicide prevention.
HB 1058 - Homeowners associations.
HB 1102 - Synthetic cannabinoid and salvia divinorum.
HB 1107 - Preventative programs for at-risk children.
HB 1153 - Problem solving courts.
HB 1180 - Zero interest mortgages by nonprofit entities.
HB 1190 - Ballots and voting systems.
HB 1217 - Criminal conversion of leased motor vehicles.
HB 1273 - Consumer protection matters.
HB 1297 - Capital ratio requirement for public depositories.
HB 1318 - National fingerprint based criminal history checks.
HB 1386 - Commercial feed certification.
HB 1387 - Commodity market development councils.
HB 1450 - Unemployment insurance.

A bill's author may pass on calling down a bill that is on the calendar, in which case the bill remains on the calendar for possible action on the next session day. Such was the case with HB 1018, which would enact a statewide smoking ban. When the bill was on second reading, there were three successful amendments that added exemptions to the bill. The bill was on third reading last week, but the author passed twice - apparently to give supporters time to line up votes.

Bills have until late February to pass their chamber of origin - Feb. 23 in the Senate and Feb. 25 in the House.