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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - Operation of the Indiana General Assembly, and how a bill becomes a law, Part I

Several weeks ago the ILB received a note from an Indiana attorney:

I want to find out more about how I can track what bills are introduced and when they are scheduled to be heard in committee, etc. I have attended a few study committee hearings in the past, but that's about it. And I only knew about those because someone told me; I'd like to try to track that stuff myself.

Any ideas on where I can find that information? I am a true newbie at this...I don't even know whether we are in session now (I assume not), and whether this is a short or long session.

The ILB plans to write several posts on this topic, with links to relevant information on the Indiana General Assembly website. Please send your comments, additions, questions or corrections.

The Indiana Constitution, at Art. 4, Sec. 9, provides that:

The sessions of the General Assembly shall be held at the capitol of the State, commencing on the Tuesday next after the second Monday in January of each year in which the General Assembly meets unless a different day or place shall have been appointed by law.
So that means that the 2016 General Assembly will commence on January 5th.

Other details are set by statute, specifically, by Title 2, Article 2.1, Legislative Sessions and Procedures.

Notice that the Constitution spoke in terms of "sessions." That word is defined by IC 2-2.1.1.1(3), as is "Term of the General Assembly", which means:

... that two (2) year period of time extending from the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November of any even-numbered year until, but not including, the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November of the next even-numbered year.
In other words, from the day after the general election in any even-numbered year until the conclusion of general election day two years hence.

IC 2-2.1-1-2 and 3 go on to break up this two-year "term" into a first and second regular session, and define their length. The first regular session of each term of the general assembly shall adjourn sine die not later than April 29 in any odd-numbered year. The second regular session of each term of the general assembly shall adjourn sine die not later than March 14 in any even-numbered year.

2016 is an even-numbered year, and hence it is the "short" session of the current term, which began the day after the general election in Nov. 2014.

Bill Introduction.

IC 2-2.1-1-10 provides:

Procedures: Filing of Bills and Resolutions. Bills and resolutions may be filed and assigned to committees at any time after
the convening of a session according to the rules of each house. During any session the standing committees of the House and Senate may announce and hold public hearings on any bill or resolution assigned to them upon the authorization of the Speaker of the House or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, respectively, but may take no action with regard to its disposition until it is introduced according to the rules of the house of origin.
IC 2-2.1-1-2 begins:
The first regular session of each term of the general assembly shall convene on the third Tuesday after the first Monday of November of each even-numbered year
In practice, however, do not generally begin to be filed until close to the January convening.

That does not mean you will not hear proposals talked about. This year, a draft of SB 100, re LGBT rights, was "unveiled" and filed on the Nov. 17 organization day. A copy has been available from the Senate republicans webpage.

Today, Dec. 22, the official introduced version of SB 100 is available from the 2016 Indiana General Assembly webpage of bills for the 2016 session, along with over one-hundred other Senate bills. This is the first day this page has been populated. No House bills are listed, as of this writing.

More coming ....

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 22, 2015 11:40 AM
Posted to Indiana Government