A timely (and hopefully entertaining) update (and unsolicited perspectives) provided by Shantil Siaperas–MACo Communications Director & Editor of MACo’s Legislative Update–to keep you apprised of what’s happening on the Hill during the 2023 Legislative Session.
An Update & Unsolicited Perspectives Provided by Shantil Siaperas, MACo Communications Director & Editor of MACo’s Legislative Update
MACo's Legislative Update
Volume 27, Issue 9
Published March 19, 2023
Published March 19, 2023
Volume 27, Issue 9
(If you’re not interested in the meandering thoughts of a rambling lobbyist and just want to checkout MACo’s Legislative Update, I sympathize. Click the button below for instant access to our first issue of the session.)
The Other Half
Well, hey there MACo Folks!
I’m back. [Holding for applause.] It’s been two weeks since I last visited, so where and when are we in the time and space of Legislative Land? Well, we’re still in Helena…physically.
Mentally, I’m daydreaming, which turns out is the only pleasant dreaming of which I am currently capable, since my nightly visions are filled with legislators and lobbyists living in college dorms, average folks investigating other average folks who have been investigating election security, bill drafts about property taxes, the MACo banner, and excited little puppy bears…cute, but deadly.
I digress. Returning to the latter of the two-part question, the “when are we in Legislative Land?”…Well, last week, we all sprang forward. Tomorrow Spring springs out of Winter. It’s now two weeks and two days since General Bill Transmittal sprung with joy…so that means the battle of the budget is springing into action this week.
Yep. It’s time for the State’s super surplussed budget bill to hit the Floor. So get comfy with a pillow and a glass of water. This update is about to get real dry real fast.
A quick “General Bill Transmittal” (GBT) recap
We survived, and the process went as expected. Bills came out fast. Bills were heard fast. Bills were passed fast. And bills were killed fast.
- Total Bills Introduced: 1,461
- Completed Bills: 155
(signed by Governor, enrolled with SOS, or chapter number assigned)
- Bills Presumed Dead: 372
(missed GBT, withdrawn, or not passed by a chamber)
- Bills Still in Play: 909
(Doesn’t include 25 Resolutions)
- Bills Roughly Presumed ALMOST Done or Dead: 120
(tabled, transmitted to Governor, concurred in final Chamber without amendments)
As you can see from the breakdown above, there are definitely 909 bills still in play, of which 120 “may” be excluded (the Gov could still amend some bills), leaving us with approximately 789 pieces of legislation CURRENTLY alive and well.
Yes, as in “for now/today.” Money bills—those with appropriations or revenue attached to them—can still be introduced through March 28th, Legislative Day (LD) 62, which is one week from Tuesday.
Based on what the Legislature did prior to GBT, we should be prepared for a landslide of bills to be introduced (this week) and have their first hearing (next week) just prior to the Appropriations and Revenue Bill Transmittal (ARBT) deadline on April 3rd, LD 67.
Check out our Legislative Update for the legislative calendar, which shows exactly where we are in the process as well as where we’re headed. While you’re in there, review the list of legislation relevant to MACo that survived as well as those bills that are presumed to have died in the process.
Presumed to have died?
Yes. Bills that failed to meet the GBT deadline of March 3rd are presumed dead. I say “presumed” because zombies are very real, and they often drag themselves up out of their graves during the second half of a legislative session.
Okaaay, crazy lady…What does this mean?
Glad you asked. A “zombie bill” is legislation that won’t die, or it’s reanimated. This is possible through a number of mechanisms and more often than not involves a “Generally revise [insert whatever area it’s revising] bill.
Excerpt from Senator Frankenstein’s “Methods for Creating a Zombie…Bill”
(No need to Google—it’s a real thing…and it must be read with a British accent or ye legislation be plagued by…immeasurable amounts of oppositional testimony…and toads.)
Good Sir or Madam, the methods below have previously been proven successful and are set forth to assist you in your endeavors to ensure the longevity of legislation that is currently dying or deceased. Please use responsibly.
- Send to the Mothership: Rerefer an at-risk or dying bill from the Floor to its respective money committee (House Appropriations or Senate Finance & Claims) where its life can be prolonged.
(Turns out, a bill doesn’t necessarily need to have money attached to it.)
- Tie on a Dollar: Amend an appropriation into a General Bill to bypass GBT.
(Don’t fret—the amendment will of course be amended out later).
- Hijacking: Amend a previously killed bill’s verbiage into another bill that has a similar title or similar “Generally revise…” title.
(When a title says “generally revise…” anything can be stitched into it that falls under the area it’s revising).
- Reincarnation: Introduce a new bill similar to the dead bill via a bill draft with a similar title—or just use one of the many unused “Generally revise…” titles—and “tie on a dollar” thereby making it a money bill with a later transmittal deadline.
(Refer to Method 1.)
- Free Conference Committee: Do not concur on a “Generally revise…” bill that was amended in the other Chamber and have a Free Conference Committee appointed where it can be amended with the main points from the dead bill.
(This option is best utilized toward the end of the session for primarily priorities after other options are exhausted.)
What I’ve learned: Senator Frankenstein was a very clever lady (and it obviously inspired her brother). And we should remain vigilantly aware of the dreaded “Generally revise…” bills.
Keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel…
Currently there are 205 bills moving through the process along with 1,656 unintroduced bill draft requests all with “Generally revise…” titles, ranging from things like elections, taxes, and state agencies, to online shopping, alcohol, and marijuana. Now that we’re in the second half of the session, actions and motions will become a more nuanced. Paying close attention will be key.
Pro Tip: Don’t want your legislation highjacked? Take that bill to the gym and tighten up that title!
The battle of the budget begins…
Last week, March 15th, the House Appropriations Committee passed House Bill 2 (the State’s budget). Legislative Staff has since been diligently preparing it, so it can have its Second Reading debut on the House Floor this week. (If you’re at the Capitol, stop by Legislative Services with food and water—the poor staffers have to be wilting by now.)
Looking at this week’s schedule, you’ll notice that only Senate Committees are convening Wednesday (except on House Committee in the morning hearing one bill). Given this information, we expect that you can expect the budget bill to hit the floor midweek where you’ll hear many-a-motion made.
Representatives from near and far will go section after section, amending and not amending and then amending and not amending again and again and AGAIN until finally, all the amendments that can be motioned have been moved…most of which will die with only a few inadvertently overlooked priority items applied (that are of course prearranged via a good whippin’).
The good news is that I’ve looked at the amendments page for HB 2, and there are CURRENTLY none, zero, ZILCH posted for the Floor Session. So, I could be wrong about all the motioning. It might be a super simple in-and-out “do pass” situation for the House. We’ll see…
Below are various resources to help prepare you for Wednesday’s unwild ride (don’t be sad—the rest of the week is plenty wild).
- House Bill 2 (the actual legislation)
- Previous Versions
- House Appropriations Committee Action on HB 2 (general fund only)
- HB 2 Amendments
HB 2 Narrative(overview)
Section A (general government)
Section B (public health & human services)
Section C (natural resources & transportation)
Section D (public safety)
Section E (education & K-12)
- The Kitchen Sink (every budget resource you’ll ever need—scroll down when you get there)
Time to put a bow on it…
To conclude this already long-winded update, let’s recap. We’ve made it past GBT. The budget finally has wheels and is headed to the Floor. And we’re fast approaching three significant deadlines in a mere two weeks, which means things will continue freight-training forward:
- March 21 – Last day for committees to request Revenue Bills
- March 28 – Last day to introduce Appropriation and Revenue Bills
- April 3 – Transmittal of Appropriation and Revenue Bills
Word on the Hill is that the Legislature is aiming to adjourn toward the end of April as opposed to LD 90, May 5th. Since there are 277 hearings already scheduled this week—without the House convening committees on Wednesday and more hearings likely to be added Thursday and Friday—methinks we’re rapidly headed toward that goal, with loose uncalendared deadlines (of which only legislators are aware) coming much sooner…
…This new information also makes me wonder if the bulk of the 2023 legislation has already been introduced…which would explain the unusually speedy introductions pre-GBT and the oddly slow trickle of intro’d bills last week…
Wouldn’t that be nice? A girl can dream. And don’t worry she absolutely will. More legislative dreams about legislators and lobbyists and legislation on the horizon…stay tuned for “puppy-bears swarm the Capitol,” part II.
PS – 35 Legislative Days remaining…
PSS – Happy birthday, Dad! (Pretend it’s Monday if you’re reading this Sunday night.)
Below is a list or resources, some of which were mentioned in this update.
And Don’t Forget…
If you find yourself on uneven footing during the legislative session at any time, 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 (i.e., the Legislative Session), we’ll be releasing a new issue of the MACo Legislative Update (linked below and above).
Each issue always has an up-to-date session calendar, an easy-to-print bill hearings schedule for the upcoming week, and the status of all the bills we’re currently watching as well as those in which we’re actively involved. Click the button below to check out the new issue.
Pro Tip: Our website’s hearing schedule is updated daily, with new hearings added as the week progresses, so be sure to check it out! It also has links to testify remotely and/or submit written public comment as well as watch legislative bill hearings.
For other pertinent information regarding the legislative session, visit the policy section of our website.
That’s all for now! See you either virtually via the internet highway or in the halls!
(the end…of the update, not the session, obvi)