Tuesday, April 9, marks a major hurdle for bills in the Legislature. It is the deadline to “work” bills in the chamber of origin, meaning put them up for a vote.
This first chamber deadline applies to policy committees, including the House and Senate Education committees. The deadline does not apply to the standing committees of Joint Ways and Means, any of its subcommittees, or the House and Senate rules and revenue committees. But for most of the rest of the legislative committees, this deadline means that House bills in a House policy committee and Senate bills in a Senate policy committee must be voted out of committee by Tuesday. Bills remaining in a policy committee are considered "dead."
For legislative advocates, the first deadline narrows the massive number of bills that could be enacted to roughly three-quarters. Approximately 4,000 bills have been drafted this session, and OSBA has been following about 500 of them. This deadline should narrow the list of education-related bills to about 400.
In a normal session, if a committee hasn’t decided if the bill should move forward, legislators and advocates would spend the final days frantically trying to send bills to a standing non-policy committee with no deadline, keeping the bill alive. Because of the Joint Committee on Student Success, this is not a normal session.
The JCSS is not a standing committee, having been specially created by leadership in both chambers in 2018. It is a joint committee, however, meaning it is composed of both House and Senate members, and that means the chamber deadlines do not apply to it. For a lobbyist, advocate or legislator, this means getting your bill moved to the Student Success Committee before Tuesday means the bill will live another day.
At the end of last week, there were more than 20 bills in the committee, and more than 70 bills in other committees had subsequent referrals there. Many of those 70 could make their way there by Tuesday. These bills run the gamut for education policy proposals, from class size as a mandatory subject of bargaining (SB 764) to extending trauma-informed practices pilot programs (HB 2026) to how to calculate current service level (SB 1022), and a whole host of other topics. In other years, these are the kinds of bills that might have been unable to find consensus in a policy committee and would have remained there after the deadline. The Student Success Committee’s wide net gives them another chance, and OSBA will continue to monitor them.
Policy committees will be working overtime ahead of this deadline. The Senate Education and Workforce committees have more than 20 bills scheduled for hearings. The House side is not taking it easy either, with the Education and Business and Labor committees scheduling more than 50 bills combined.
No committee comes close to the schedule for the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, which has scheduled more than 60 bills for hearing Monday and Tuesday.
OSBA continues to work on major bills on topics such as including expansion of employee rights, paid family leave and inappropriate sexual conduct by employees toward students.
The next major deadline is May 10, when second-chamber bills must be scheduled for a work session.