Volume 26, Issue 9
Published March 8, 2021

All Things Transmittal.

Thoughts 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 our latest issue.)

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Hi. Hey. How are ya? It’s Monday. Yes. Monday. So, this is not the usual Sunday update but a Monday update instead. However, in my time—Legislative Time—it’s still Sunday and won’t be Monday until 5 p.m. on this fine Sunday/Monday Day when the legislature gavels in for the LD 46 (Legislative Day 46).

Remember Legislative Twilight Time (LTT)? We. Are. In. It.

Two months ago, I (and 150 legislators and another 50-100ish lobbyists) clocked-in at 12 p.m. on January 4th for LD 1 using our normal day-to-day legislative timecards.  Last week, Tuesday, March 2nd, we gleefully pulled out, dusted off, and punched our legislative “twilight” timecards.

Confused? Don’t feel bad. I’ve been confused since my first LTT experience in 2011. Let me explain . . .

Rewind to Tuesday, March 2nd, LD 44: You’ve survived the previous transmittal week as well as yesterday’s Senate Floor Session that began early in the morning and adjourned at almost midnight—you’re a little bruised but no broken bones and only a mild headache from lack of sleep and coffee-blood pumping through your veins for two months straight—you’ll survive.

It’s 8 a.m. Time for the House to convene for second reading on a laundry list of legislation. Time to get back to it . . .

  • Scenario 1: You walk into the House Gallery at the Capitol and pick a nice seat in the shadows away from other humans—talking bad, hiding good; coffee hasn’t quite flipped on the “go” switch to your brain, and your double-walled fancy coffee mug is running dangerously low on fuel; or
  • Scenario 2: You have no reason to dwell in the rafters—all of your go-to people (legislators and lobbyists alike) live in 2021 and are responsive and on standby for texts and the occasional phone call as necessary. You refill your coffee, turn on your tablet/laptop/computer and tune into the floor session from the comfort of your office/couch/bathtub—no judgment.

Around 1 p.m. you get a little snacky and head-spinny, so you grab a donut and a coffee refill from the closest market or hit up Planet Gyros for some fast Greek sustenance and a caffeinated soda (don’t even think about touching that uncaffeinated garbage—no time for a snooze).

Then it happens. At 2:30 p.m. you walk back into the Capitol building (or tune back into the floor session from your office/couch/bathtub—no judgement), and it’s LD 45. What? Yes: LD 44 before lunch and LD 45 after lunch. Transmittal day. The holy grail. Whaaaat? Yaaaaas . . . Fascinating, I know. The only words crossing your mind are “Thank. You. God.” Legislators, legislative staff, lobbyists, and association advocates AAAALLLL thanking God. Why? Because following the final fall of the gavel on this fine Tuesday afternoon is transmittal break.

Do you know what “Transmittal” is? Do you care? I know you’re curious. Let me explain . . .

Transmittal is LD 45. It’s the halfway point of a two-month sprint. It’s the day all general bills (bills without revenue or an appropriation) must be “transmitted” to the other House: House bills must pass third reading and head to the Senate, and Senate bills must pass third reading and head to the House.

General bills that fail to pass third reading by the final fall of the gavel on LD 45 die. It’s kind of a big deal. (Pro Tip: Check out this issue of our Legislative Update, which indicates the bills from our lists that are likely dead.)

Do you know what “Transmittal BREAK” is? Do you care? You do. And I’ll tell you why . . .

Transmittal Break is a very brief magical era—unknown to your average Jane, Joe, and Family Doe—that follows the final fall of the gavel on LD 45. It’s silence in the Capitol’s halls. It’s a vacant Capitol parking lot. It’s zero bill hearing notifications, a manageable inbox, 4-5 straight days of peace, 96-120 hours of darkness.

Rarely do the words “dark” and “magical” go together, but in the case of “transmittal,” they absolutely do. We rest. We relax. We go to the dentist, the eye doctor, the hair stylist. We balance our accounts. We take a mini vaca. (I take down Christmas.) We. All. Go. Dark.

So again, why do you care? Because without this period of time, we’d all lose our collective minds. Legislators, legislative staff, lobbyists, and association advocates alike would each need to wrap up in a cozy white jacket for an extended nap in a padded room. And no one wants that (except me maybe).

We all want good legislation to go through the process. For that to happen, the break is a necessity—without an official break, a “break” of another kind would be inevitable. It’s proactive. It’s responsible. It’s a small piece of heaven.

What comes next? Time to get back to work.

All good things must come to an end. And Transmittal Break is no different. The House and Senate will officially closeout the break by convening at 5 p.m. on this fine Monday evening. I hope everyone got some relaxing rest or some restful relaxation, because we’re at the peak of our pursuit facing down the long winding road of final two months, which is always an adventure and often a mind game.

It’s time to zone in on the money. The next 3.5 weeks will focus on getting the revenue and appropriation bills transmitted to the other house. The deadline? April 1st. LD 67. April Fool’s Day. (Fitting.)

Did you know the Legislature’s primary responsibility is to pass a budget? It is. And they do that with House Bill 2, i.e., the budget bill, which is hitting the full Appropriations Committee this week. Meaning? We should see HB 2 on the House floor in the next couple of weeks, and then it will zip off to the Senate to repeat the process.

Exciting right? They could adjourn early when they finish the budget, RIGHT!?! Yep. Suuuuure. Here comes the rumor train . . . but we’ll cover that in a later update.

For now, checkout this issue of our Legislative Update and stay tuned!

And Remember . . .

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, 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, 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, so be sure to check that out. It also has links to testify remotely and/or submit written public comment.

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: 45 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