Capitol Corner

by Gus Blackwell

Many times as I talk to constituents about bills or the process that is happening in the Legislative process they are baffled by some of the terms that are used. To understand the process, it is equally important to understand some of the language that is used to describe what is happening.

One such phrase that I am constantly asked about is the term, “striking the title or “striking the enacting clause.” Although the two are different, they accomplish the same thing. When this is done to a bill on the floor or in committee it means that at least two events must happen and usually a third occurs. These terms in effect cause the bill to become ineffective if passed and signed into law by the Governor.

This means that two events must occur for the bill to actually become law. First, the bill must be changed in some manner or fashion. That means the bill will be amended in the other chamber (Senate or House) either in committee or on the floor. It also means that the bill will come back to the chamber that “struck the title” for another vote. When it comes back for a vote the bill may be virtually the same, or it may be changed entirely.

This is a normal part of the process of a bill becoming a law. A large part of the entire process is negotiation. This allows both sides of an issue to make changes to address their concerns in an atmosphere of give and take. This process usually helps the bill become a better piece of legislation.

Right now, all of the House bills that passed are on the Senate side and most are getting amended. The Senate bills are on the House side and the same process is going on in the House. They are getting amended either in committee or on the floor. They may also be getting killed by the opposite chamber by not hearing the bill.

If the bill stays alive it must come back for another vote. The other chamber may accept or reject the amendments and send it to conference committee. This committee is made up of members from both the House and the Senate. The title is a misnomer, since the committee doesn't have to meet and the two authors of the bill usually come to an agreement on what the bill says. Then they get signatures from the others on the committee and sign the bill out of the conference committee.

This circumvents the open process of legislation. This prevents constituents and concerned parties from having a voice in the negotiation process. At the beginning of this session, some of the rules about the conference committee were changed to allow a more open process.

One of the new rules makes it mandatory for the bill to have a 36 hour waiting period before the bill can be heard on the floor. Another rule now forbids lobbyists from gathering signatures on the report. These two rules help to make the process a little better.

Once the bill comes out of conference committee, it goes to both the House and the Senate. First, a vote is taken to accept or reject the conference committee report. The bill can't be amended unless the report is rejected and it is sent back to conference committee again. If the report is accepted, the bill then comes up for a final vote. Both chambers must pass the bill in an identical form for it to go to the Governor's desk.

The process of “striking title” or striking “the enacting clause is simply a way of continuing the negotiation process. If a better bill can't be crafted it is then usually simply not heard.

Boise City News
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Boise City, Oklahoma 73933-0278
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