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Legislative Calendar Definitions

Calendar:
A calendar simply is a list of bills before a chamber in the order in which the bills can be considered. Thus, the farther down a bill is on the calandar, the longer it may take (if ever) for the chamber to consider the bill.

The MDN calendar database reflects the status of bills as they have been reported to the chamber. In the House, there can be a considerable delay before committee approval is reported to the full House.

Informal Calendar:
When a bill reaches the top of the calendar, but is not acted upon by the chamber, it will be placed on the informal calendar.

The order of the bills on the informal calendar bills does not matter. A bill on the informal calendar can be brought up for consideration anytime the sponsor can get recognition.

Perfection:
In the original chamber of introduction for a bill (the House for HBs and the Senate for SBs), the bill must pass two separate chamber votes to be passed by that chamber.

The first vote is called perfection. During perfection debate, committee amendments are considered and any member can offer amendments. When the chamber is finished the amending process, the perfection vote is taken.

Perfection requires just a simple majority of the members present. Often, the perfection vote will be a voice vote without a recorded roll call.

Usually, the perfection vote is the critical vote in a chamber. Most bills that have been perfected will be 3rd read.

3rd Reading:
The 3rd reading vote requires what is called a constitutional majority. That is 50% plus 1 of all the elected members in a chamber.

With 34 members, a consitutional majority in the Senate requires 18 votes. In the House, a constitutional majority requires 82 of the 163 members. Thus, a bill can fail even if its a majority vote if it does not get the minimum needed for a constitutional majority. A 3rd reading vote must be a roll-call vote.

Normally, the perfection and 3rd reading votes cannot be taken on the same day. Usually, a chamber schedules one day near the end of the week for 3rd reading votes on all the bills prefected during the previous week.

Bills from the other chamber (House bills in the Senate and Senate bills in the House) do not go through a perfection stage. Instead, the amendment-consideration process is done as part of the 3rd reading debate.

However, during 3rd reading of a chamber's own bills, no amendments can be offered (with some technical exceptions) - since amendments already were considered during perfection. Instead, the 3rd reading vote is a straight yes-or-no vote.

In Budget:
If the legislative staff estimate of the bill's cost to the state (called a fiscal note) exceeds $100,000, the bill must be approved by a budget-watchdog committee before the 3rd reading vote.

In the calendar listings, bills with the note (In Budget) have been assigned to the budget-watchdog committee. Those bills cannot be considered by the chamber until and unless approved by that committee.

The committee cannot amend the bill. It can only approve or disapprove the bill for a chamber vote. If a bill before the committee reaches the top of the 3rd reading calendar, it will retain its position at the top of the calendar.

In the House, the budget-watchdog committee is the Budget Committee - the same committee that handles the appropriations bills. The Senate has a special committee, the Budget Control Committee, for fiscal note reviews.


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