You may have noticed a lot of action swirling around at the Capitol over the past two weeks. Legislators have been taking executive action on bills and moving legislation to chamber floors for debate in their best efforts to try and avoid the looming date of February 27th. Why is February 27th important? Well, let me tell you. It is the transmittal deadline for many bills, it is the halfway point of the legislative session, and it is when everyone at the legislature gets a few (much needed) days off.
Transmittal is the deadline for legislators to approve and pass bills to the next chamber or the bill is effectively dead. So a bill originating in the Senate must be move through committee and receive positive votes on both 2nd and 3rd reading in order to avoid death come transmittal. (Unless the Legislature suspends the rules, which is difficult.)
This Friday marks the 45th day of the legislative session, which means it is the transmittal deadline for all general bills. General bills are those that do not have an appropriation or bring in revenue. There are several transmittal dates that occur throughout the 90-day session. Legislation focusing on appropriations, taxes, or referenda dates have the following transmittal deadlines.
- 2nd Transmittal (Day 60) – Deadline for revenue estimating resolutions
- 3rd Transmittal (Day 67) – Deadline for appropriation and revenue bills and bills proposing referenda
- 4th Transmittal (Day 73) – Deadline for amendments to general bills
- 5th Transmittal (Day 80) – Deadline for amendments to appropriation and revenue bills and bills proposing referenda
- 6th Transmittal (Day 85) – Deadline for interim study resolutions
Think of this week as the hurricane’s center compared to the previous two weeks and what’s to come in the session. Legislators are winding down, and after today, there will be no more hearings until next Thursday, March 5th. After the break, legislators will waste no time getting back into the full swing and big legislative priorities, like HB249, the Healthy Montana Plan. This is Governor Bullock’s plan to extend affordable health care to 70,000 Montanans. It will have its first hearing Friday, March 6th.