A glossary of terms you might hear today

In more or less alphabetical order, here are some terms likely to be heard on this final day of the legislative session including sine die (and the way we’re really supposed to pronounce it).

Temporarily pauses action on a bill without removing it from the calendar. The bill might need further work (amendments), the sponsor might be off the floor, or other reasons. Sometimes the bills never get uncircled and die on the board.

When the originating body accepts the amendments of the other body. Generally the move to concur is noncontroversial but sometimes the originating body refuses to concur. They will ask the other body to recede from their amendments. Sometimes they do, but often they do not. When the bodies can’t agree on the final format of the bill, leadership of both bodies will send members to a conference committee.

Conference Committee
There’s a joke that goes, if you want to find the conference committee, follow the shouting. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House each appoint three members to the conference committee. They meet together to find a solution both bodies can agree upon. If an agreement is reached, the bill is voted on again. If no agreement can be reached, the bill dies.

Legislators can call for division when a voice vote that is too close to call, for example. Legislators then vote on the record.

Move Previous Question
A motion made that has the effect of concluding debate and proceeding to the vote. The motion to move previous question has to be voted on, but is nondebatable.

Personal Privilege
A parliamentary motion used to ask for time to speak to the body on something not related to the bill-passing process. For example, Representative Jon Hawkins spoke to the House yesterday under “personal privilege.”

First Reading 
Required of all bills and resolutions and accomplished by receiving a number and stating the title. The first reading is followed by Rules Committee consideration.

Second Reading
Occurs in the House as a bill is reported back to the floor with a committee recommendation. Acceptance of the committee report completes the second reading. In the Senate, debate, possible amendments and substitutes, and vote are taken on the actual bill which completes the second reading.

Third reading
Final phase in the consideration of a bill, followed by debate, further amendments and substitutes, if any, and final vote before heading either to the other body for consideration, or to the governor’s desk if a bill has passed both bodies.

Suspension of the rules
A parliamentary procedure that allows for action on a bill without going through the typical process. For example, at the end of the session, the Senate may only debate a bill once, combining second and third readings under suspension of the rules.

Unofficial break from floor time – legislators can go “saunter” for a bit. Sometimes used when one body needs to (or wants to) let the other body catch up with the number of bills on the board.

Sine die
This is from Latin and means, literally, without a day. At the end of the legislative session, it means that the legislature is adjourned “indefinitely,” without a day to come back. Legislators (and others) typically pronounce it “sigh-neh dye” but Latin scholars pronounce the term ‘see-nay de-ay.” Random factoid, I know. I think maybe legislators just say “die” because it feels like that’s what you want to do after 45 days of a rapid-fire session.