[r76] Putting the final touches on legislation (3/7/2014)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Start Date: 3/7/2014 Start Time: 3:30 PM
Towards the end of every session both House and Senate legislators alike meet together to discuss the different bills that have been written. These meetings are called conference committees and are very important to hammering out the best piece of legislation. 

Currently House Bill 1141 dealing with Methamphetamine lab disclosures in property sales is going through a conference committee. Indiana as a whole was ranked 3rd in the nation last year for the incredibly high number of lab seizures. HB1141 is for a person that is looking at buying a home to be able to see, in the buyer’s agreement, if that house has ever been in contact with the creation of methamphetamine. 

Conference committees are necessary if a bill has been passed out of its authored chamber only to be amended by the other. The bill will then return back to its original chamber for the author to review the changes that may have occurred in this bill. Unfortunately, sometimes an author may not like certain changes that the opposite chamber put into the bill therefore prompting a conference committee, one of the final steps of the legislative process. My bill was passed in the House 95-0 and then in the Senate 47-0. However, amendments were added in the Senate to the bill, so it will be going to conference committee to clarify a portion of the bill to avoid confusion or misinterpretation.

This final joint House-Senate conference committee is a way for both parties of each chamber to meet together on a small scale and reconcile an agreement that would enhance the bill and allow for all members to be satisfied with the outcome. 

A conference committee is a group consisting of a member of each party from the House and a member of each party from the Senate. These appointed members are considered conferees - who are leaders of the meeting - and were typically a large part of the bill’s passage in either of the chambers. I will serve as a conferee and along with fellow legislators will collaborate to produce a bill that will have the most positive impact on Indiana.  Additionally, other members can be appointed as advisers to this group to help the conferees, though their approval is not needed for the bill to move forward. 

Anyone is allowed to attend and watch a conference committee, and notice is sent out so that people may attend to watch or testify for or against the bill. Throughout these meetings, legislators may also discuss differences in language or consider proposed compromises. In order for a bill to get through conference committee, all members must sign a final conference committee report to confirm that they approved any changes that may have been made. In this process many different conference committee reports may be made, though the final signed report will move forward for a final vote in both chambers. 

If this final committee report passes the final vote in both chambers, it is then signed by the Senate President Pro Tempore, David Long and the Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma. This final version of the bill is then sent to the Governor, Mike Pence, for him to either sign the bill into law, or to veto the bill. 

McNamara_Memo_Putting the final touches on legislation.docx