Time’s up! Legislative deadlines and how they change the policymaking process

BY TAYLOR BENNETT, POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB

During every session, legislative deadlines help keep the policymaking process on track. The deadlines help ensure that the process is fair and that all bills have an equal chance for review, amendment, and passage.

There are three deadlines that can change the flow of the process at the Capitol: The 35th Day, 41st Day, and 50th Day. Here’s what those deadlines are and what they do for the legislative process:

  • 35th Day – Last day to introduce bills in the House of Delegates: After the 35th day of the session, no more bills will be introduced in the House. There are a few exceptions. We might still see bills that originate in committee, House or Senate resolutions, and concurrent resolutions, but there will be no more bills introduced on the floor. 
  • 41st Day – Last day to introduce bills in the Senate: Senate rules allow bills to be introduced until the 41st day of each year’s session. The same exceptions to bills originating in committee, House or Senate resolutions, or concurrent resolutions still apply. 

 

Both of these deadlines cause a scramble to make sure that everything is introduced in time. That means that a flood of new bills were introduced in the House this week, and we can expect to see a sharp increase in the number of Senate bills introduced as next week’s deadline looms.

These first two deadlines are set so that bills can meet the next major deadline – Crossover Day.

  • 50th Day – Crossover Day: By this day, all bills must be passed out of their house of origin. Simply put, if a bill was introduced in the Senate, it must have gone through committee, have been read on the floor 3 times, and have been voted on by the full Senate. Likewise for the House. If a bill passes, it can move on for consideration or “cross over” to the other chamber. If it hasn’t been voted on, the bill is not allowed to continue to be considered this session.

 

It’s important for citizen lobbyists to keep a discerning eye on the legislative process as these notable session deadlines approach each year: the flurry of activity means new bills and key changes that may go unnoticed as well as shorter timeframes for citizens who want to give feedback to get in front of legislators.

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