Conference Committee 101


The budget bill will be in conference committee the next few days – perhaps even through Sunday. Lawmakers will officially return at 9:30 this morning, although most negotiations and compromises take place well out of the public view.

A few basic things to keep in mind about a conference committee:

The makeup is two members (“conferees”) each from the House and Senate as well as “advisors” – all appointed by House Speaker Pat Bauer and Senate Pro Tem David Long. These conferees and advisors may be removed at any time by the respective House and Senate leaders (generally only done if the appointee is threatening to go against the party line).

The conference committee process is less structured than the regular committee process. Conference committees may meet within one (Senate rule) or two (House rule) hours after notice of the meeting is posted (on the bulletin boards outside the respective Senate and House chambers) and are open to the public “whenever feasible.” No further posting is required if additional meetings are necessary, and it is within the chair’s discretion to be forthcoming about time and place of any additional meetings.

A bill may pass out of a conference committee only with unanimous consent of the conferees. This is called the conference report. If it passes out of the conference committee, both chambers vote on the final version.

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