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Hello everyone,

We are more than two thirds of the way through the 2024 session. It was another short week with both the House and the Senate closing for Good Friday. This was also budget week in the House. Budget week typically signifies the beginning of the sprint finish to the end of the session. With the vast majority of the 621 introduced bills still pending, legislators have a lot of work to do before they are required to adjourn in 37 days.

This year, like most years, budget week followed a predictable schedule. On Monday, the Long Bill (HB 1430) and 45 orbital bills (orbital bills make statutory changes related to the budget) were introduced in the House. On Wednesday morning before the House convened, the House Appropriations Committee heard all 46 bills and referred them to the House floor. Later Wednesday morning, the House Democrat and House Republican caucuses met separately to discuss the budget. Representatives then had until 4:00 pm to submit any amendments they wanted to offer to the Long Bill or the orbital bills. This year, representatives submitted 86 amendments. The number of budget amendments differs from year to year, but in the House, it is usually between 75 and 125. On Thursday, the House heard the Long Bill and all the orbital bills on second reading. Second reading lasted from 9:24 am to 8:03 pm. The House adopted more than a dozen of the amendments causing the budget to be out of balance by at least $11 million. After a final vote in the House today, the Long Bill and orbital bills will move over to the Senate where they will follow a similar schedule this week. Next week, the JBC will meet as a conference committee and work out the differences between the chambers. The JBC will also have to ensure the budget is balanced.

So far, there have been 621 bills introduced – 431 in the House and 190 in the Senate. Only 37 days until the General Assembly is required to adjourn sine die.

Bill Skewes

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