The legislature may adjourn sooner than planned. With a fairly calm legislative session this year, Representatives and Senators may be able to go home earlier than the April 7th Sine Die deadline. Each day the legislature does not gavel in saves taxpayers over $30,000.
Longtime Representative Steve Holland says the legislature has a short calendar of bills left and if they buckle down, they can get it done quickly.
“I’m hoping that in a couple to three weeks max, we ought to be home,” said Holland.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden echoes Holland’s assessment of what’s left to be done this session saying they could get done as early as March 25th.
“We could conceivably get out a full week early if everything comes into place,” said Snowden. “The budget is the main thing that has to be done and of course, we’ve been working on appropriations bills for a while, but the big effort is that the House and the Senate have to agree on the big number which is the number that we are going to spend for this year. We are very careful to spend within our means and make sure it is by and large recurring revenue that we are spending on recurring expenses and not one time expenses. When we determine what that number is then everything else will fall into place.”
Snowden cited laws like the rural broadband internet bill and the human trafficking legislation that was passed early on in the session saying significant and meaningful legislation does get done during election years. However, he continued saying much of the “heavy lifting” was done during the 2018 special session with the passage of the BRIDGE Act.
“When you come to a regular session if it is an election year, that is probably not the year for big bold new initiatives, radical sorts of things,” said Snowden. “That kind of legislation typically happens in years two and three of a term. The first year of a term is not generally the time to do that either because you are getting people acclimated to their new positions, particularly if it is the first year of a new governor’s term which next year it will be. “It’s not that we slack off in an election year, but I think you are a little more measured in what you intend to accomplish because we are all aware that the voters are going to make the choice of what leadership they want for the next four years.”
So what’s left for the House and the Senate to do? Snowden says they are in the final processes now.
“The Senate has taken up bills the House has already passed and vice versa,” said Snowden. “Some of the big things that we have done and have already talked about still have to be finalized, but that will happen by and large by next week, then you’re talking about the budget and the appropriations process will come at the very end of the session and that’s when we will know if we are able to do pay raises and how much [money they will get]. Also, how much any state agency is going to receive in funding. We have a general idea now, but we don’t have the final numbers.”