What is a conference committee?

Jun 06, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

Both the House of Representatives and Senate can make changes to a bill, but any changes in one chamber have to be approved by the other.  If the House of Representatives does not approve Senate changes – or vice versa – legislators can vote to send the bill to a conference committee.  That committee includes legislators appointed by the leaders from each chamber.  Those legislators work together to draft a compromise bill, which is then presented to the House and Senate for a final vote.

The next state budget is most likely headed to conference committee, after the full House of Representatives votes on the budget bill from the Senate.

So far the following bills are also in conference committee:

HB 84 – This bill is about possession of a loaded long gun in a vehicle. It would specifically allow the possession of a loaded firearm in a parked mobile home.  The Senate amended the bill to also allow a loaded rifle or shotgun in the truck bed of a pickup. 

HB 228 – This bill allows a minor to transport alcohol in a vehicle so long as the minor is accompanied by a family member of legal age.  The House wants to require a legal age sibling be at least age twenty-five.  The Senate was fine with any sibling age twenty-one or older.

HB 371 – This bill Increases the amount of a public works contract for which a bond is required.  The House wanted to increase the bond requirement from $35,000 to $75,000 while the Senate wanted to increase it to $100,000.  The conference committee will also decide if the bonding requirement should be optional for towns and cities.  Supporters argue easing bonding requirements makes it easier for contractors to do business with the government.  Opponents argue that bonding requirements protect both contractors and governments from losses.

HB 420 – This bill authorizes a court to require installation of an ignition interlock device (breathalyzer) for a person convicted of manslaughter involving alcohol, even if the person was not convicted of a DUI.  The House and Senate disagree on the wording, which could impact whether someone must actually be convicted of a crime for the court to order the device installation.

HB 448 – This bill also relates to ignition interlock devices.  The bill generally gives the Department of Safety the power to extend the time a breathalyzer is installed in someone’s car, particularly if they try to remove the device.  The Senate wanted to add a 60 day limit for the Department of Safety to act after a device is removed.

SB 60 – This bill removes the requirement that chemical lab test results of controlled drugs be notarized, instead allowing laboratory employees to sign results without a notary present.  The House wants to add some language to require a laboratory employee to sign results under oath.

Legislators will likely convene conference committees for several other bills that are still working their way through the process.

Do you have an opinion on any of these bills?  Share your opinion in the comments below.

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