Another Deadline Comes And Goes

Capitol Currents:

Another deadline for bills to advance has passed in the 2011 legislative session, but this deadline claimed far fewer victims than last month's. Today's deadline was for committee chairs to schedule work sessions for second-chamber measures--that is, for bills that were approved in their chamber of origin but are now seeking approval on the opposite side of the building. While today is the deadline to schedule a work session, the work sessions themselves may be held up until June 1st (i.e. a week from Wednesday).This deadline saw fewer casualties for the simple reason that the bulk of bills that will die this session did so when they failed to move out of their chamber of origin last month. Bills that died today have already been approved by a majority of lawmakers in one chamber, but for various reasons failed to generate enough support in the second chamber.At this point, that appears to be the fate for Senate Bill 695, a measure that would ban the use of BPA in children's beverage containers. Environmental groups call it one of their top priorities this session, and the bill passed the Senate 20-9 last month. But as of late this afternoon, SB 695 had not been scheduled for any work session in the House Energy, Environment & Water Committee, where it resides.But of course, it's always true that no bill is truly dead until the final gavel falls. Indeed, several high profile bills now reside in committees that are exempt from most session deadlines:  Rules, Revenue, and Ways & Means. It's common practice for lawmakers to move a hot potato issue to one of those committees in a last-ditch attempt to keep the issue alive. (The Redistricting Committees and the Joint Committee on Tax Credits are also exempt from the deadline, but they deal with very specific issues and thus are unlikely to become committees of last resort.)  Additionally, a bill that appears dead may be resurrected in another form by being stuffed into a measure that's still alive, assuming that there's a "relating clause" that allows this.And, toward the end of session, legislative leaders have broad power to, well, make things happen. Supporters of the BPA ban said this afternoon that they're holding out hope for a last minute intervention. But with an evenly divided House, it's unclear whether there's the political consensus to move the bill to a vote.

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