WEEK 7: Fiscal cut-off!!!
Today, March 1st, is the last day for bills to get out of their original fiscal committee.  House bills with a fiscal impact have to be out of the Appropriations Committee and Senate bills with a fiscal impact out of the Ways & Means Committee.  While the Senate Ways & Means committee will  continue their work on the 1st, the Appropriations committee's cut off was February 28th (or as late as they go after midnight!). 
While many bills are being heard and exec'd in the fiscal committees, many are not.  The sheer volume of bills that have a fiscal impact makes it impossible to get through them all in the allotted time, even working well into the night.  For example, yesterday, the Appropriations committee heard 10 additional bills and had 71 on their list of bills to exec.  And that was just one day's worth of bills!
We are always very happy when good bills related to children, youth, and families are heard and passed in the fiscal committees. We also know that there is a long and challenging road ahead.  All of the bills that pass out of the policy and fiscal committees have to get through Rules and then get brought up on the floor for a vote.  Members of the Rules committees are bombarded with requests to PULL this bill or that bill.  They only have a limited number of pulls and are often the only person from a given policy committee on Rules, and they may feel an obligation to prioritize bills from that committee.  Being involved in the legislative process makes it easy to see why it is so much easier for a bill to die than to actually pass and make it's way to the Governor's desk!
In the Partners for Our Children bill tracker we now are including summaries of amendments for some of the bills.  It is important to note, however, that things can change fast.  While we do our best to keep up, we might get a bit behind every now and then! 
Some bills are amended in an attempt to reduce the fiscal impact, thereby (potentially) making it more likely the bill will keep moving.  Bills are also amended to clarify aspects of the bill, address concerns, add additional content, etc!  Amendments can be introduced in committee (with the exception of the Rules committee) or on the floor of the House or Senate.  Amendments are then incorporated into the bill and become part of the bill as it moves forward.  Bills can also be amended with what is called null and void language; if there isn't money in the budget to fund the bill it will be void.
Next week the House and Senate will be on the floor... considering and passing bills.  Then it's on to the other side!  Time is flying by!
Questions? Concerns? Contact Nicole Sadow-Hasenberg, Communications Manager, Partners for Our Children.