Ask me a question

Jim Protzman comments in another thread:

“Hi Gerry.  I’ve received a dozen or so emails with questions about what happens now with the budget . . . and I don’t have any good answers.  Would you be willing to do a live-blogging session at BlueNC sometime (soon?) to help us citizens understand what the process looks like, who’s on first, etc?”

I’ll take under advisement doing any live blogging, but for now, feel free to ask me any questions about the legislative process by posting your question as a comment in this thread.  I’ll either reply in the comments myself, or do a new post to answer the question if it merits in-depth treatment.

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6 Responses to Ask me a question

  1. Mitch Kokai says:

    Here’s a good topic for your expertise.

    Assuming the budget bill goes to conference (Laura Leslie’s blog has details about efforts to the contrary), both chambers will form a conference committee.

    Please respond or post about the official duties of the conference committee.

    One of the items you can clarify is the potential fate of the committee’s conference report. In recent budget floor debates, supporters and opponents of the budget conference report have argued about whether a vote against the conference report is a vote against the budget.

    Thanks for your willingness to share the institutional knowledge.

  2. Gerry says:

    Mitch:
    defeat of a conference report does not defeat the bill, as new conferees can be appointed (prior to the early 90s; defeat of a conference report practically killed the bill as no new conferees could be appointed.)
    The conference report is agreed on by a majority of the conferees from each house
    The conference report is an up or down vote, and normally on the budget the conference report is a substitute bill drafted for the conference committee. Depending on what is in the conference report, the bill can be acted on in one, two, or three days of floor action, and sometimes a different number of days is required for one house than the other, depending on language relating to taxation and borrowing.
    -Gerry
    House rule 44 http://www.ncleg.net/house/documents/HouseRulesHB423.pdf
    says:
    RULE 44. Conference Standing Committees. – (a) Whenever the House shall decline or refuse to concur in amendments put by the Senate to a bill originating in the House, or shall refuse to concur in a substitute adopted by the Senate for a bill originating in the House, or whenever the Senate shall decline or refuse to concur in amendments put by the House to a bill originating in the Senate, or shall refuse to concur in a substitute adopted by the House for a bill originating in the Senate, a conference committee may be appointed by the Speaker upon the Speaker’s own motion and shall be appointed upon request by the principal sponsor of the original bill, the chair of the House standing committee which reported the bill, or the sponsor of the amendment in which the Senate refused to concur; and the bill under consideration shall thereupon go to and be considered by the joint conferees on the part of the House and Senate. In appointing members to conference committees, the Speaker shall appoint no less than a majority of members who generally supported the House position as determined by the Speaker.
    (b) Only such matters as are in difference between the two houses shall be considered by the conferees, and the conference report shall deal only with such matters. The conference report may be made by a majority of the House members of such conference committee and shall not be amended.
    (c) If the conferees fail to agree or if either house fails to adopt the report of its conferees, new conferees may be appointed.
    (d) No vote shall be taken on adoption of a conference report until the next legislative day following the report.
    Senate Rule 57
    http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2007/Bills/Senate/HTML/S1v2.html
    RULE 57. Conference committee. – The President Pro Tempore of the Senate, or in the President Pro Tempore’s absence, the Deputy President Pro Tempore, upon motion, shall appoint a conference committee when the Senate fails to concur in amendments or committee substitutes put by the House to a bill originating in the Senate, or when the House of Representatives fails to concur in amendments or committee substitutes put by the Senate to a bill originating in the House. Senate conferees shall include the primary sponsor of the bill. In considering the bill committed to the conferees, only such matters as are germane to the bill shall be considered by the conferees, and the conference report shall deal only with such matters. The matters referred to the conference committee by the conference committee chairs shall go to and be considered by the conferees appointed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. While the bill is in conference committee, the Senate’s position shall be determined by a majority of the Senate conferees. Upon agreement by the Senate and House of Representatives, a conference report shall be drafted reflecting the matters considered and agreed upon by the conferees. The conference report shall not be amended.

  3. Anglico says:

    Only such matters as are in difference between the two houses shall be considered by the conferees, and the conference report shall deal only with such matters.

    …………………..

    Given how far apart the House and Senate versions of the bill are, this would seem to make everything up for grabs . . . or am I reading it wrong. For example, could the conferees agree to kill the sales tax increase and make the top-tier income tax increase permanent?

    Could they eliminate COPS altogether, even though it shows up in both budget bills?

  4. gercohen says:

    Reading the rules strictly and literally, any COPS project in both houses bills would remain, any in one house but not the other could either stay or go. If one house has a two-year extension of the income tax and the other nothing on the subject, making it permanent is not a “difference” between the two houses, the difference is a length of time between no extension and two years ( or an extension up to two years at a lesser rate. The rules have not always been applied structly and literally.

  5. I have heard varying answers to a question about the number of days needed to pass a continuing resolution that changes tax law. Most people seem to think it would take a minimum of five separate legislative days.

    If there are tax changes in the CR, how many days would be required to pass it? and I assume if no tax decisions are made, it could technically be introduced and passed by both chambers in a day. Thanks.

  6. gercohen says:

    Chris,
    A new tax bill would take 5 days, as would a tax PCS for a bill that had nothing to do with the subject. There are potential scenarios with some tax bills that could take 3 or 4 days rather than 5.

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