We are almost in the homestretch of the 2021 legislative session. It is still up in the air as to when the General Assembly will adjourn sine die. It must be by midnight on Saturday, June 12th. A lot of people are still hoping it will happen by this Friday or Saturday; however, with all the major bills still outstanding I think that is unlikely. My guess would be Tuesday, June 8th or Wednesday, June 9th, although I would not be surprised if they go all the way until the 12th.
One of the telltale signs that the end of the session is near is the announcement in the Senate and House of their “intent” that they are in the last three days of the session. This happened on Wednesday in the Senate and on Thursday in the House. This does not mean they will adjourn in three days but rather it triggers certain exceptions in the legislative rules that only apply during the last few days of each session. These changes are designed to help speed up the legislative process. The rule changes include the following: requiring committee reports to be submitted as soon as possible instead of allowing two or three days; allowing the voting on bills before certain reports are printed and distributed; eliminating the ability of a representative or senator to slow down the progress of a bill by making a motion to reconsider; allowing substantive amendments to bills on third reading in the House (typically they only allow technical amendments on third reading); lowering the threshold for a motion to reconsider in the House from two-thirds to a majority; and allowing committee hearings to be scheduled on a day other than their usual day. Now you know more about the end of session rule changes than many people in the Capitol.
The Senate State Affairs Committee referred HB 1250 concerning measures to address law enforcement accountability to the Senate floor during a hearing that lasted late into the night on Tuesday. While the Committee did not amend the bill to include the new use of force standards that were previously included in the House, it did include language that changed an agreement that was reached during the 2019 session concerning the disclosure of internal investigation files. As expected, the State Affairs Committee also postponed indefinitely SB 183 concerning law support and accountability. SB 183 was the Republican counterproposal to HB 1250.
SB 174 concerning peace officer credibility disclosures is working its way through the House having already passed the Senate unanimously. As I mentioned last week, SB 174 now establishes a committee to develop a statewide model for peace officer credibility disclosure notifications and requires each law enforcement agency and district attorney’s office to adopt and implement written policies and procedures consistent with that statewide model by January 1, 2022. SB 174 is calendared to be heard on second reading in the House on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee postponed indefinitely SB 062, the Jail Populations Management Tools bill, at the request of its sponsor. SB 062 would have prohibited a peace officer from arresting someone for misdemeanors and class 4, 5 and 6 felonies except under certain circumstances, required the court to issue a personal recognizance bond when a defendant fails to appear if certain criteria are met, and authorized sheriffs to manage their jail populations by establishing standards for admission. However, SB 062 generated a lot of opposition from law enforcement. As a result, the sponsors asked to kill SB 062 and introduced SB 273. SB 273 is very similar to SB 062 and seems to be getting the same reception from law enforcement. On Thursday, the Senate passed SB 273 on a party-line vote. It was introduced in the House and is calendared to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Only 11 days until the General Assembly is required to adjourn sine die.