What now for all those leftover bills?

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When the gavel came down on the legislature late Monday it didn’t put an end to the business of the 88th session.

Minnesota is one of several states operating on a biennium: the first year is used to set the state budget, and the second year is generally used to consider capital investment projects. Unlike the second year, when legislators adjourn sine die, which means “without a day,” in the first year a date for return is established. The 2014 session is scheduled to convene Feb. 25.

Of the thousands of bill introduced in the House and Senate, only a small percentage make it to law. So, what happens to the remaining bills? Most are sitting in limbo, waiting for possible action during the 2014 session.

The future of any bill depends upon where it is in the process when session ends:

  • Bills on the General Register return to the last standing committee or division where they were acted upon. The rules also apply to any bill up for consideration on the Consent Calendar, Calendar for the Day or the Fiscal Calendar.
  • For appointed conference committees that have not submitted a report upon adjournment, the bill returns to the body where it originates and is laid on the table. The conference committee is discharged.
  • Bills that passed one body and not the other remain alive for the second year of the biennium. The house that approved the bill in the first year need not re-pass the bill in the second.
  • House files amended by the Senate coming back for concurrence are available to take up when session begins.
  • Bills pending before the rules committee of either body return to the standing committee to which the bill was previously referred.
  • Bills vetoed by the governor are returned to the body where the bill originated and tabled.
  • Bills remaining in standing committees can be taken up in the second year of the biennium in the committee to which they were referred.

For information on how a bill becomes law, go to www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/govser/GOVSER6.pdf or call House Public Information Services at 651-296-2146 or 800-657-3550 and request the Minnesota State Government Series State Law Process.