June 29, 2021
Special Session continues into its third week as lawmakers make the final push to set the state’s biennial budget ahead of a potential July 1st government shutdown. Although agreement now appears to have been reached on all areas of the budget, the final omnibus bills still need to pass both House and Senate floors before lawmakers can finally call it a year.
As discussed last week, the omnibus Jobs bill was made public after behind the scenes talks between House and Senate negotiators. Once the omnibus bills are made public, the goal is that they will not have amendments add or delete provisions, as the negotiations have been finalized and any changes risk the overall agreement. But things were not that straightforward with the omnibus Jobs bill.
On Friday the House put the omnibus Jobs bill up for a vote on the House floor. Against the wishes of leadership, an amendment aimed at improving worker safety by requiring use of skilled and trained contract workforces at petroleum refineries was offered and accepted on a bipartisan 73-57 vote. There had been language on this topic in a version of the bill earlier this session, but was removed in the Senate Finance Committee. The bill, as amended, was then passed off the House floor and sent over to the Senate. Rather than accept the bill with the new language, the Senate refused to concur and established a conference committee to work out the issue.
The Conference Committee met on Monday and agreed to take the language back out of the bill. The bill was then repassed by the Senate (51-15) and then the House (71-62) today, making it the 9th budget bill to make it to the Governor’s desk. Lawmakers will continue to work today and tomorrow to finish passing the remaining handful of bills and look to be in good shape to finish on time, but as we’ve seen with the Jobs bill – you never know until its over.