What’s Happening (OSCC Political Observations)
It’s crunch time in the Legislature as we move into the final six weeks of the 2021 session.
We keep thinking the pace will pick up anytime now. There is some evidence this is starting to happen. Last Friday was the ‘posting deadline’ for the second chamber. Bills had to be posted for a work session on Friday, May 14th in order to advance out of the second chamber committees. Any bill not posted is considered dead.
Those bills that were posted must be officially voted out of committee by Friday, May 28th, otherwise they too will die.
Policy committees will shut down on May 28th - leaving only Rules, Revenue and the Joint Ways and Means Committees open for business.
As is the case every session, there are rumors of an early adjournment (potentially as soon as June 18th) or a split adjournment (Senate adjourns before the House), though at this point the most likely timeline for the conclusion of this year’s session remains the constitutionally required adjournment date - June 27th.
This week, we will receive the May Revenue Forecast, which will be the guiding forecast for finalizing the 2021-23 budget. We will begin to see budget bills pass over the next couple of weeks. Last week, that movement already started with the passage of the $9.3 billion K-12 education budget.
We are hearing that budget bills should move first and that policy bills in the Joint Ways and Means Committee will move after the budget bills have cleared.
Already, with the budget bills, we have interesting political dynamics starting to play out. The Governor initially threatened to veto the $9.3 billion K-12 budget put forward by the legislature, even though it is the largest education budget in our history. The Governor initially raised concerns that not enough had been done to help impacted communities of color, but appears now to have reached accord with lawmakers and backed down from her veto threat. This just highlights that we still have a long way to go on a number of key issues, and legislators have less than six weeks to figure it all out.