Bill introduced by State Rep. Hill aims to divide session into two parts

In Alabama, the Legislature has a 105-day period each spring to address its regular business, as per the existing state law. State Representative Jim Hill, a Republican, aims to address this issue by proposing a bill that would divide the legislative session into two distinct periods.

The Legislature has a total of 105 days from the beginning of the session to complete its tasks. However, it is only able to convene for a maximum of 30 days during this period. The usual schedule for the Legislature involves meeting from Tuesday to Thursday, although there may be occasional adjustments to this schedule.

Hill’s proposed legislation aims to condense the spring session to a more manageable 75 days, starting in February. During this time, the Legislature would convene up to 20 times to address various matters. In September, lawmakers would reconvene in Montgomery to complete the remaining 10 days of the session, allowing for a 30-day window to wrap up any pending business.

“The legislative branch of government plays a crucial role, accounting for one-third of our system,” Hill emphasized. “While our branch convenes for only 105 days a year, roughly equivalent to three-and-a-half months, the other branches operate year-round. It’s important to be able to address emerging issues during the nine months we are not in session, rather than waiting for the next session to commence.”

The Legislature is constitutionally obligated to pass the state’s two budgets. Technically, it is supposed to pass budgets before any other bills. However, the burden of this requirement has led to a workaround known as a “budget isolation resolution.” This resolution allows the body to pass other bills, but it requires a 60 percent vote.

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Hill’s bill maintains the existing process for passing the budget, but it introduces a new requirement. According to the bill, the budget must be passed during the initial phase of the session. Failure to do so within the first 20 legislative days would result in an automatic special session dedicated solely to passing the budgets.

In September, the Legislature will solely concentrate on bills that are not part of the budget process. This period will not only involve addressing ongoing issues but also provide an opportunity for the Legislature to address any bills that were vetoed.

Hill assured that bills would continue to move forward during the long break. If a bill has already advanced out of the House in the first session, it can be taken up by the Senate in the second session without the process resetting.

According to Hill, having committee meetings during the break would be beneficial as it would allow for the continuation of important dialogues without any loss. This opportunity would provide a way to further engage and discuss relevant matters.

In a recent conversation with APR, Hill presented a hypothetical situation where a gaming bill is approved by the Senate and reaches the House during the last week of the session. According to him, in such a scenario, there wouldn’t be enough time for the House to thoroughly consider the bill before the session concludes. However, if a complex bill like this were to pass one chamber before the session break, it would allow the other chamber enough time to examine it and potentially pass a legislation when the body reconvenes.

Hill expressed his optimistic view, stating, “I see numerous benefits and no downsides.”

The change, if approved as it is, will not come into effect until 2027.

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