The Indiana General Assembly is rapidly approaching a pivotal point in this year’s session. Monday, Feb. 25, is the last day to pass a bill from the House of Representatives to the Senate, and Tuesday, Feb. 26, is the last day to pass a bill from the Senate to the House of Representatives. While the full session must end by April 30, these dates of Feb. 25 and 26 mark the first of several key junctures in Indiana’s legislative process. This year we are experiencing what is known as a “long” session, and by its close the General Assembly is required to produce a fiscal budget to present to the governor to fund state services from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015. Next year’s “short” session must end by March 15. The concept of the short session was originated to deal exclusively with so-called emerging issues, but has since morphed a quickened, mini version of the long session. It deals with as many issues, with the exception of the fiscal budget.
Enough of the civics class … the importance of the Feb. 25 and 26 dates is that any bill that has not passed out of its chamber of origin (Senate or House of Representatives) by this timeframe is dead. That bill is no longer eligible to be debated. However the language contained in such a bill may be amended into a live bill. These amendments happen virtually every year, but with more than 1,200 bills introduced, generally 800 to 1,000 are dead after this first elimination, and their contents are not amended into another bill.
For legislators, lobbyists and citizens closely monitoring the General Assembly, the number of bills remaining to track is greatly reduced. Now that you have a better understanding of the significance of this first deadline in the legislative process, you may be wondering how it affects you. The answer is that Feb. 25 and 26 could have several effects, depending on your areas of interest.
With less than one week remaining prior to this deadline, you need to contact your representative or senator about bills that contain language on issues important to you. For bankers, the Indiana Bankers Association Government Relations Team simplifies this daunting task. The IBA GR Team is monitoring daily all issues that might impact any aspect of banking. When it is important that you weigh in with your grassroots support, we contact you electronically with specific instructions detailing the action you should take, the message to be communicated and the timeframe under which we must work.
Your grassroots involvement with your legislator often is the deciding factor as to whether a bill lives or dies. During the next few days, please be on the lookout for IBA grassroots requests. We are eager for a positive legislative outcome.