Volume 26, Issue 4
Published January 24, 2021

Updated Session Calendar & Some Words of Wisdom

Provided by Shantil Siaperas, MACo Communications Director & Unofficial (Yet Still Official) Editor of MACo’s Legislative Update

If you’re not interested in the meandering thoughts of a rambling lobbyist
and just want to check out the next issue of MACo’s Legislative update, I sympathize. Click the button below for instant access to Issue 4.

MACo Legislative Update, Issue 4

HELENA – Legislative week four, here we come . . . It is week four, right?  One month into the session is about the time when regular time starts to turn into Legislative Twilight Zone Time (LTZ Time). It’s like everyone participating has a personal invisible legislative stopwatch, and while crossing the threshold of the outside world into the Capitol’s universe, the watch stops. As those heavy oak doors close, time slows to a crawl behind you, but things are mysteriously moving at the speed of light in front of you. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if the doors on the Capitol building are oak, and I’m not spending any time fact-checking that detail. I apologize.)

Confused? It happens. Let me make it worse by first giving you an extreme example of LTZ Time that inevitably occurs near the end of every session. In the past, there have been instances where it’s say, 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. You’re sitting in the House Gallery in your usual spot, when suddenly—with the slam of a gavel and the blink of an eye—it’s the next legislative day.

You look around.  You’re still in the House Gallery . . . sitting in the same spot . . . wearing the same power suit and power tie (and/or pumps/flats) as the previous day, while power-staring at a text to a fellow lobbyist on your phone. Then you go outside, and it’s still 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. Yeah. I know. Time warp. Weird.

A less extreme (and less fun) explanation of LTZ Time is that things are just busier than normal, and the human brain goes on overload, so things feel fast and slow at the same time.

Having said all that and thoroughly confusing you, I’ve decided to try and remedy the situation by doing a little check-in with the 2021 Legislative Session Calendar, which just changed a few days ago. See below.

Original 2021 Session Calendar

  • Jan. 4:          67th Legislative Session Convenes (Day 1)
  • Jan. 19:        Last day to request General Bills & Resolutions (Day 12)
  • Jan. 26:     Last day to request Revenue Bills (Day 17)
  • Feb. 17:       Last day for Committees to request General Bills & Resolutions (Day 36)
  • Feb. 20:       Last day to introduce General Bills, ex. Committee Bills (Day 39)
  • Feb. 27:       Transmittal of General Bills to other Chamber & Last day to request Appropriation Bills (Day 45 – Halfway Point)
  • Feb. 28 thru March 3:  Transmittal Break
  • March 16:   Last day for committees to request Revenue Bills, Bills Proposing Referenda, or bills to implement HB 2 (Day 56)
  • March 20:   Transmittal of Revenue-Estimating Joint Resolution; and last day to request Study Resolutions (Day 60)
  • March 22:   Last day to introduce Appropriation Bills, Revenue Bills & Bills Proposing Referenda (Day 61)
  • March 29:   Transmittal of Appropriation Bills, Revenue Bills & Bills Proposing Referenda (Day 67)
  • March 2-5:  Easter Break
  • April 8:         Transmittal of amendments to General Bills (Day 73)
  • April 15:      Last day to introduce Study resolutions (Day 79)
  • April 16:      Transmittal of amendments to Appropriation Bills, Revenue Bills, and Revenue Estimating Resolution, as well as Bills Proposing Referenda (Day 80)
  • April 19:      Transmittal of amendments to Revenue Estimating Joint Resolution (Day 82)
  • April 22:      Transmittal of Interim Study Resolutions (Day 85)
  • April 28:       Sine Die (Day 90 = End of Session)

Updated Session Calendar

  • Jan. 4:          67th Legislative Session Convenes (Day 1)
  • Jan. 19:        Last day to request General Bills & Resolutions (Day 12)
  • Jan. 26:       Last day to request Revenue Bills (Day 17)
  • Feb. 17:       Last day for Committees to request General Bills & Resolutions (Day 36)
  • Feb. 20:       Last day to introduce General Bills, ex. Committee Bills (Day 39)
  • March 3:      Transmittal of General Bills to other Chamber & Last day to request Appropriation Bills (Day 45 – Halfway Point)
  • March 4-5:  Transmittal Break
  • March 19:   Last day for committees to request Revenue Bills, Bills Proposing Referenda, or bills to implement HB 2 (Day 56)
  • March 24:   Transmittal of Revenue-Estimating Joint Resolution; and last day to request Study Resolutions (Day 60)
  • March 25:   Last day to introduce Appropriation Bills, Revenue Bills & Bills Proposing Referenda (Day 61)
  • April 1:         Transmittal of Appropriation Bills, Revenue Bills & Bills Proposing Referenda (Day 67)
  • April 2-5:  Easter Break
  • April 12:     Transmittal of amendments to General Bills (Day 73)
  • April 19:     Last day to introduce Study resolutions (Day 79)
  • April 20:     Transmittal of amendments to Appropriation Bills, Revenue Bills, and Revenue Estimating Resolution, as well as Bills Proposing Referenda (Day 80)
  • April 22:     Transmittal of amendments to Revenue Estimating Joint Resolution (Day 82)
  • April 26:     Transmittal of Interim Study Resolutions (Day 85)
  • May 1:    Sine Die (Day 90 = End of Session)

What happened to the Original Calendar?

Glad you asked. But first, are a few important facts:

  1. Whenever one body of the Legislature (House or Senate) convenes as a “body of the whole,” it equals one Legislative Day.
  2. 1 Legislative Session = 90 Legislative Days
  3. Deadline dates are determined according to legislative days.
  4. Legislative Leadership holds the authority to revise the schedule, including the days the Legislature meets as well as proposed breaks.

Now it’s time to spill the tea . . . (There is actually no tea to spill, sorry.)

Usually, at least one body of the Legislature convenes on Saturday mornings with longer agendas for the second and third readings of bills. The Saturday floor sessions were originally scheduled to begin next weekend (January 30th); however, that’s no longer the case. On January 20th, Legislative Leadership amended the 2021 Session Calendar, and the first Saturday floor session is now scheduled to begin February 20th.  That’s three Saturdays (three Legislative Days) lost, which pushes the Legislative Calendar out three days.

But Why?

We don’t officially know.

Unofficially—and most likely—it’s because bills aren’t being introduced quickly enough to justify convening on Saturdays as of yet, and the Legislature doesn’t want to waste days. Makes sense. Very responsible.

Why Does This Matter?

Two words that are golden to every person involved in a Legislative Session: Transmittal Break

Transmittal indicates the midway point of the 90-day session, which is Legislative Day 45 (I just mathed—it’s a verb now). This first transmittal is the deadline for all “general bills” to transmit to the other chamber. It’s a chaotic time with a flood of legislation being introduced and heard rapidly.  This is significant, because all bills except revenue bills must transmit to the other chamber by the deadline (March 3rd) or they die.  This wild ride is followed by a short reprieve for Legislators, lobbyists, and legislative staff.

It’s a sacred time called Transmittal Break in which every moment feels like that golden hour in the sun, and everyone practices deep breathing exercises before commencing down the path of the final 45 days. Some people go on a spontaneous vacay for a few days, while most enjoy a relaxing staycay. Others spring clean; over-achievers do their taxes or catch-up on those lingering tasks that have been pushed off for a couple of months, and I take down my Christmas tree (don’t judge me; I don’t judge you for whatever weird thing you know you do).

Word to the Wise

Never schedule an out-of-state, non-refundable trip (or even a teeth cleaning) during transmittal break.

Officially putting anything on your calendar (especially in ink) will inevitably lead to a Fate vs. You smack-down (and Fate always wins). However, if you did tempt her a little by scheduling just some simple personal appointments (doctor, dentist, eye exam, hair/skin/nails, massage, electric shock therapy) during the originally-scheduled transmittal break, get on the horn now and bump those to the end of the week. (Forewarning: You’ll be competing with me for time slots, because I 100% bellied up to Fate’s bar and said hit me, hard.)

And Finally . . .

There you have it: the updated 2021 Legislative Session Calendar and some words of unwarranted wisdom from yours truly.  As always, if you’re still on uneven footing, no worries. We’re here to help keep you apprised of what’s happening on the hill. Every week until Sine Die during these trying and perplexing times, we’ll be releasing a new issue of the MACo Legislative Update (linked below).

Each issue always has an up-to-date session calendar, information about participating virtually, and an easy-to-print bill hearings schedule for the upcoming week. Pro Tip: Our website’s hearing schedule will be updated daily as the week progresses and new hearings are added.

Don’t forget to check out the bills section, where you’ll be able to follow the status of MACo’s legislation, as well as track the growing list of bills in which we are monitoring and/or actively participating.

Click the button below to check out the new issue.

For other pertinent information regarding the legislative session, visit the policy section of our website.

See you either virtually via the internet highway or in the halls!

PS: 75 legislative days remaining

(The Legislative Update is linked below.)
Questions? We Got you!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Eric Bryson, MACo Executive Director:  406-461-2084, ebryson@mtcounties.org

Jason Rittal, MACo Deputy Director:  406- 698-3255, jrittal@mtcounties.org

Shantil Siaperas, MACo Communications Director:  406-925-1134, shantil@mtcounties.org