Less than 50 days to go! Next year’s budget is anticipated to be introduced in the House today. This will slow down a lot of other work as the legislature will focus on the budget for the next few weeks. Most of the state budget is included in the Long Bill, which includes funding for the different executive branch departments and the judicial branch. In addition, there are orbital bills that make statutory changes needed to balance the budget. Typically, during budget week, the Appropriations Committee hears all the budget bills on Tuesday morning and refers them to the floor. The Republican and Democratic caucuses then meet independently and go through the budget. Any amendments legislators want to make to the budget are required to be submitted by 5 pm on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the caucuses meet again to go through the packet of amendments that were submitted the night before. The number of budget amendments differs from year to year, but in the House it is usually between 75 and 125. After the caucuses finish reviewing the amendment packet, the entire chamber debates the budget on second reading. It usually takes Wednesday afternoon and evening to debate all the amendments. On Thursday, the chamber passes the budget on third reading and then it moves to the other chamber and the same process is repeated the following week. This year the budget starts in the House. Next year it will start in the Senate.
Last Monday, as expected, the House concurred with Senate amendments to HB 1150 eliminating the signature requirement on certain citations and repassed the bill on a vote of 56 to 9. On Friday, HB 1150 was sent to the Governor for his consideration. The Governor has 10 days to sign, veto or let the bill become law without his signature. It is anticipated that the Governor will sign HB 1150. Only 45 days until the General Assembly is required to adjourn sine die.