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How oil tax reform bill moved through Juneau

April 19th, 2013 | Tara Sweeney Print this article   Email this article  

A bill will originate in one body of the Legislature, either the House or Senate. This session, the oil tax reform bill originated in the Senate as SB (Senate Bill) 21. In terms of process, when a bill is introduced, it is referred to the committees of jurisdiction and hearings are held on that piece of legislation.

This is where the public input process is so important. Constituents have an opportunity to provide their input on the legislation. With respect to SB 21, there were hearings held in the committees of referral, the Senate Resources and Finance committees. Each committee has an opportunity to change the language of the proposed bill in the form of what is known as a "committee substitute."

After a committee passes the bill out, that bill then moves onto the next committee of referral. Since there were only two referrals when Senate Resources finished hearing and marking up the bill, they passed it onto Senate Finance. Both committees had an opportunity to tinker with the legislative language.

After the final committee hearing, the Senate as a body votes for the bill presented before them. Amendments can be offered on the floor, and once the amendment process is complete - the body must vote on the bill. In this case, the Senate voted on the bill and it passed 11-9.

Upon passage through the Senate, the bill is transmitted over to the House chamber where it undergoes a similar referral, committee and hearing process, until it is presented on the House floor for a vote. If a bill is passed by the Senate and then is passed by the House, but if the language is not identical, the bill goes back to the original body for a vote called "concurrence".

In this case, the House version of the bill had been modified and passed out of the House. SB 21 then moved back to the Senate for "concurrence".

At this point, the Senate can either vote for or against the bill on "concurrence". If a majority vote for a bill on "concurrence," then it is passed into law and transmitted to the governor for his or her signature. If the majority vote against a bill on "concurrence" then both chambers meet to iron out the details in an exercise called "conference". When they have ironed out the differences, the clean bill is then put back into both chambers for a vote to approve the "conference" report.

If they approve the "conference" report, the bill is then transmitted to the governor for his or her signature. In the case of SB 21, it did not have to go to "conference," instead a majority of the Senate voted for the House version of the bill on "concurrence." The measure passed 12-8.


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