The Suspense is Killing Me!

All of the policy committee hearings at the Capitol are basically done for the first house and now all attention focuses on the fiscal committees and the suspense file. Both the Senate and Assembly appropriations committees have a suspense file where they temporarily hold bills that have a certain fiscal impact to the state’s General Fund. On Friday, May 25th, the appropriations committees in both houses will have a hearing on the suspense file and announce which bills will come off the suspense file and move to the floor of either house. The hearing does not focus on the policy of the bill, the cost of the bill, and there is no presentation on the bill. Rather, the chair of each committee simply goes through the list of suspense items and announces which bills will continue to move through the process and which bills are “held.” If a bill is “held” on the suspense file – it is basically dead for the year.

The suspense file is a tool utilized by both houses to limit the number of bills that move through the legislative process. The basis for holding a bill is primarily due to the fiscal impact on the General Fund. However, bills can also be held on suspense if the bill is controversial, politically unfavorable, or will place legislators in a difficult position on the floor if the bill comes up for a vote. Friday is a big day for legislation. All legislators and lobbyists will be closely watching the hearing to determine the fate of the bills they are authoring and/or lobbying.

Jennifer Barrera, Senior Vice President, Policy