A motion traditionally made in the final week of the legislative session could give hope for an early finish.
Via a party-line vote, the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee on Tuesday adopted a 12-hour waiver on concurrence beginning May 13.
“It is typical that when get toward the end of session, we waive the 12-hour waiting period so that we can make sure we are adjourning on time,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long (DFL-Mpls).
Members must constitutionally finish their work by May 22; however, they could be back in their districts by that date.
“The hope is that next week is the final week of session and that we aren’t going past the 18th. So that’s certainly the speaker’s intent is to try to wrap up business next week,” Long said.
Per House Rules: “Except after the last Thursday on which the Legislature can meet in regular session in odd- or even-numbered years, or after a date determined by the Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration, a motion that the House concur in Senate amendments to a House File is not in order until 12 hours after the Speaker announces that a message from the Senate has been received requesting concurrence by the House to amendments adopted by the Senate to a House File.”
Waiving the rule does not guarantee action will be taken immediately upon a file’s availability.
“The goal is, of course, to allow our caucuses time to process and review, but 12 hours is not always practical when we’re in the final week of session,” Long said.
Republicans call the resolution premature.
“I certainly do understand holding it at the desk creates hurdles and challenges, but it also means that people who are trying to watch or engage remotely or in person may not even have enough time to put thoughts or actions together to get down here and begin chatting with people,” said Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia). “… This is hasty, but it seems to be in line with the fact that you’re moving at a speed that is really irrespective of our perspective on things.”
Rep. Kristin Robbins (R-Maple Grove) is critical of the conference committee process, saying three conference committees have zero House Republicans and that, in other cases, Republicans have been left out of “meaningful conversations” about the final product.
“If we waive the 12-hour rule we are going to go to the floor and not have any idea what’s in these bills," Robbins said. "The public will have no idea what’s in these bills and yet they will become law. That’s really not speaking well of how this institution is supposed to function or how we are supposed to do our job.”
Countered Long: “We understand and respect that the public needs time to review bills, and we want to provide that opportunity for your members as well as ours. We have folks who are going to want to look through the bills on our side too. I don’t think the fact that we are waiving this means that every bill is going to be rushed through. The goal is just to give the flexibility needed to make sure that we’re ending session on time.”