- Legilative Wrap Up – Summary Of Successful And Failed 2013 Legislation
- 2013 Session – “Popular Terms List” – Bill Numbers By Topic / Nickname
“Sine Die” (the last day of the legislature) is an interesting ritual of the Maryland General Assembly
Passage Of Bills Through Both Houses
As the last week of the 2013 Session of the General Assembly of Maryland comes to a close, many bills are still viable and are expected to pass both houses in order to complete the legislative process before sine die at midnight on Monday, April 8. As of Friday, April 5, only 354 of 2,610 bills introduced had passed both houses – the House of Delegates and the Senate.
During a session, conference committees are appointed when the two chambers pass different versions of the same bill and cannot reach agreement. With the exception of the conference committees on the operating and capital budgets, conference committees consist of three delegates and three senators generally appointed by the presiding officers on recommendations of the chairs of the two committees that considered the bill. A conference committee goes out of existence when a resolution of the differences is reached and the conference committee report is delivered to each house.
For the conference committee to deliver a report, at least four of the six members from the two chambers must agree on the proposed version of the bill. If agreement cannot be reached, the bill dies. If no conference committee is appointed, or if the conference committee fails to meet, the bill dies. On rare occasions, the conference committee may be requested by the presiding officers to meet again, or a new conference committee on the bill may be appointed.
If the conference committee reports a proposal to resolve the differences between the two chambers, each chamber then votes either to accept the report without change or to reject it. Following adoption of the conference committee report, the bill, as amended by the conference committee, must be approved in each chamber by a majority of the total membership in a roll call or recorded vote, which is posted on the General Assembly website. At this point an “enrolled bill” is printed, reflecting any changes made by the second chamber or the conference committee. Revised synopses and fiscal notes are posted on the General Assembly website.
There are usually differences between the House and Senate versions of the operating and capital budgets. These differences are resolved by a conference
Beating The Deadline
The legislature will conduct multiple sessions in the last days to finish its work including meetings over the weekend. Monday, Sine Die, the House of Delegates will convene at Noon and be in an out of sessions, committee meetings, conference committees until final adjournment, or adjournment “without days” or Sine Die at midnight.
Many times that legislature is busy voting right up until midnight and bills die because time runs out before all the votes are cast. At midnight, most of the members and staff leave the statehouse for a midnight party that includes a breakfast buffet, a well stocked bar, a dj and a dance floor (my favorite part).
Once a bill has passed both houses of the General Assembly it goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The traditional Sine Die gubernatorial bill signing (day after the session adjournment) is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, in the Governor’s Reception Room, second floor, Maryland State House. Additional bill signings are scheduled in the Reception Room for Thursday, May 2, and Thursday, May 16. These signings will all begin at 10:30 a.m.
At the bill signings, sponsors and supporters typically pose for a picture with the Governor, Speaker and President of the Senate as the Governor signs the bill into law.
Bills that receive a veto from the Governor. are sent back to the legislature for consideration by the legislature for an over-ride of the Governor’s veto.