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End of Session FAQs

More questions? Don't hesitate to ask!

With the legislative session coming to an end next Friday, the Assembly and the Senate are reviewing hundreds of bills in a frenzy before returning to their districts until January. With this rush comes lots of questions about the Legislature and the legislative bill process.

It's sort of like Schoolhouse Rock although some of the rules and language can be confusing. Here are answers to a few FAQs, and please e-mail me if you have any questions!

When does the Legislature leave and return?
The Legislature is scheduled to recess for the Interim Study Recess on Friday, September 9 and return for the second year of the biennium on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. The governor may call the Legislature back in a special session for "extraordinary circumstances," including a state fiscal emergency.

My bill is still in committee. Is it dead?
The first rule of the Legislature is that there are very few absolutes. However, if a bill is still in committee, it is very unlikely to be acted on until after the Legislature returns in January.

How long does the governor have to act on bills?
During the last 12 days of session, the normal 12 day requirement for the governor to act on bills is extended to 30 days. Thus, the governor has until Monday, October 10 to act on any bill passed after August 28.

When does a bill that the governor signed take effect?
Regular bills that do not include an "urgency clause" take effect on January 1, 2012. Bills with an urgency clause take effect immediately after the governor signs them. An urgency bill will include the following sentence at the end of the bill text: "This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect."

What is "Enrolling and Engrossing"?
After a bill is approved by both houses and before it is sent to the governor, it is put through a process including proofreading.

If the governor vetoes a bill, can the Legislature override it? When?
Any veto of the governor may be overridden by a two-thirds vote when the Legislature returns in January, or if it returns in special session before January. There is no deadline for overriding a veto before the two-year session ends next August.

What is a "gut and amend"?
At the end-of-session, sometimes the entire content of a bill is emptied and new language is placed in to the bill. This generally requires a two-thirds vote during the end of session.

Monitor Amendments: http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/billtrack/billsbydate.html
Monitor Approved Bills: http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/billtrack/chaptered.html
Monitor Bills Pending with the Governor: http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/billtrack/enrolled.html
Monitor Vetoes: http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/billtrack/vetoed.html