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Burns refers 250 bills to committees, more coming

Senate President Bob Burns changed strategy on June 4 by referring 250 bills to committees in one swoop and saying he plans to refer more in the coming days.

The Senate also suspended its rules so committee chairmen can tackle regular bills beginning June 8.

The decision is a policy change for Burns, who had placed a moratorium on non-budget legislation until after the budget is completed.

“I committed to start hearing bills on Monday (June 8). That is somewhat of a change in my original plan,” Burns said. “But things have changed over the session.

“Things have dragged out longer than I anticipated.”

The Legislature’s work on the budget is far from over even though lawmakers passed a budget proposal on June 4.

Gov. Jan Brewer has yet to receive the legislative proposal.

Burns said he intends to assign all measures to committee and leave it to chairmen to decide which ones to hear. He has stated in the past that committee chairmen would probably have to whittle down their list and hold up some measures until next year.

Burns envisions an accelerated mode of committee hearings in the last few weeks of session, during which lawmakers would probably have to sit in meetings all day to compress work that normally lasts several weeks.

There is one caveat. Depending on how the legislative budget proposal ends up — that is, whether it gets vetoed by Brewer and how much work would be needed to come to a budget deal — bills might have to take the backseat again, Burns indicated.

“The budget is obviously the major responsibility of the body,” he said. “It depends on the level of disagreement (with the governor) and all that kind of stuff.”

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