The House has completed the work it was supposed to finish six weeks ago. But legislators have just four weeks left to finish the rest of their assignments.
Normally, in a budget year, the House and Senate set aside three weeks to work out agreements on final versions of bills. This year, they‘ll have nine days, as House and Senate leaders readjust their calendars to compensate for the five weeks the House lost to the Democratic walkout.
House Speaker Brian Bosma maintains the abbreviated conference-committee schedule is a good thing.
“We’re gonna have to get to the chase this year,” he says. “We’re already asking our folks where we know there’s some difference in the house and the senate or chairman and ranking member in the House or Senate to start trying to come together. Let’s bring this to a close without the normal posturing.”
The House will be working long hours just to get to that point. House committees couldn’t hold hearings on Senate bills for most of March because of the lack of a quorum. To compensate, committees met on Friday, normally a legislative off day, and may convene the next two Fridays as well. Legislators ordered in dinner and worked late into the night for three days last week to clear the calendar that had been in limbo.
Bosma says legislators are “physically and emotionally exhausted,” but says more evening sessions may be in store. He jokes the marathon sessions may speed the process in more ways than one.