News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

April 14, 2013

Legislature heads into final negotiations stretch

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana General Assembly has slogged its way through hundreds of bills since convening in January but in some critical ways, the real work has just begun.

Friday marked the beginning of the “conference committee” negotiations sprint to the April 29 finish line to the 2013 legislative session. It’s the period when the key members of the House and Senate have to work out their chambers’ differences on bills that have been significantly altered as they’ve moved through the legislative process. It’s the agreed-upon final version that gets sent to the governor’s desk.

“Now the real session starts,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, a veteran Republican lawmaker from Noblesville. As the Senate point man on the $30 billion budget bill, he’s likely to face one of the tougher conference-committee negotiation sessions ahead.

No matter that the Senate, the House and the governor’s office are all Republican-controlled; Kenley’s Senate spending plan differs from the House spending plan, which differs from the spending plan put forth by Gov. Mike Pence.

“We’ve all laid out our plans: The House has said what they think, and we’ve said what we think and governor’s staff has said what they think,” Kenley said. “And now we go into session to figure out what the answer is.”

Plenty of legislative work has already been done. Combined, legislators in the House and Senate filed more than 1,200 bills and resolutions this session. As of Friday, they had passed more than 300 bills out of their respective chambers. Almost one-third of those passed bills went through the other chamber without being changed, which means they’re headed to the governor, who’s already signed 41 bills into law.

The numbers will go up some — since Monday is the last day for the House to pass Senate-approved bills — but about 200 bills that were passed by one chamber have been amended by the other.

Some of the differences are small enough that legislators can simply concur with the changes and get on with it.

But others will need to be pounded out through the more intense conference committee process, during which lawmakers from both parties try to hammer out a deal that both chambers will accept.

Some long days lie ahead. On a range of issues, from arming school staff to rewriting the criminal code to expanding the school voucher program, the House and Senate have come up with significantly different provisions for the same bill.

“It can get a little tense at times, but it’s a fundamentally healthy part of process,” said Republican Senate Tax and Policy Chairman Brandt Hershman of Buck Creek.

“There will be differences of opinion between the parties and within parties, just like there are differences of opinion between friends and within families,” Hershman said. “I think that in itself is a good thing, as well. It’s not a sign of discord; it’s a sign of principled positions on the issues.”  

Indiana’s constitution requires the Senate and House each approve identical legislation. To get there on bills that have been significantly amended through the process, two members from each chamber, representing both political parties, meet in a conference committee to decide on the final version of the bill.

The conference committee reports, containing the agreed-upon final language, then have to be approved by both chambers before the bill goes to the governor.

Almost anything can happen, including the revival of measures thought dead, since conference committee members can insert language from a related bill that didn’t make it into another one that did.

“People are often surprised when they see these issues come back up again that they thought were dead,” Hershman said. “That’s the nature of the process.”

It can be partisan: Legislative leaders can remove obstinate conference committee members from one party and replace them with one of their own.

And it can go down to the deadline. Last year, the final version of the much-debated, much-amended bill that put Indiana’s first-ever statewide smoking ban into place didn’t go up for a vote in the House and Senate until late in afternoon of the last day of the session.  

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers, the parent company of the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Trial Begins Over OKC Bombing Video Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 28th Thousands at Peace Rally in Tel Aviv Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity