Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 11, 2014

Focusing through the final weeks

By State Rep. Cindy Ziemke Guest Columnist
Greensburg Daily News

---- — March is one of my favorite months.

Not only does it bring about the beginning of spring, but it also means we get to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day and the season of Lent. Daylight saving time also begins Sunday, so make sure to ‘spring forward’ by an hour. All of these days and celebrations affect Hoosiers in some way, but here at the Statehouse, every legislator is honed in on the end of session and working through conference committees.

The next week will arguably be the busiest here at the Statehouse. I know you may not be familiar with the process a bill goes through to become law, so here is a brief synopsis to get you up to speed:

u Representatives and senators draft and submit bills to be heard.

u The Speaker of the House or President of the Senate sort through the submitted bills and assign them to corresponding committees based on the subject matter and fiscal implications for the state.

u The assigned bills go through “first reading” in committees where they are discussed, debated, possibly amended and then voted up or down.

u If the bill is passed out of committee, it goes to “second reading” on the House or Senate floor where the author or any legislator can try to change the bill through an amendment.

u The bill then goes to “third reading” and is debated and voted on in its entirety, including any amendments that passed during second reading.

u If passed, the bill then switches chambers going from the House to the Senate or vice versa for the same process again. If the bill is passed with no amendments it goes to the governor to be signed into law.

u If there are amendments in the second chamber, it goes back to the author for concurrence or dissent. If the changes are agreed upon, the bill goes to the governor. If not, the bill is sent to a conference committee for further discussion.

We are now in this final stage of the process - conference committees. These committees consist of four members, two from the House and two from the Senate, with a representative from both parties. These four legislators study the bill in its entirety with the added amendments and try to come to an agreement on what the final bill should look like, which is then voted on by both chambers. If they both approve the amended bill, it goes to the governor for his signature, making it law. If an agreement cannot be reached, the bill essentially dies and the idea has to wait until the next session to be brought up again.

The legislative process is a complex one, but it keeps our state on the right path. I will continue working hard to represent our district in Indianapolis and keep you informed throughout the process. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you, and I look forward to spending more time in our community during the upcoming interim.

Rep. Ziemke represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.