Thursday, February 27, 2014

Understanding Defective Dates

It is not unusual for a bill to have its effective date (the date it becomes law) changed to a date
far in the future -- usually 2050 -- in order to “facilitate further discussion.”

Such a so‐called “defective date” (or “defective effective date”) would not render the measure invalid if enacted, though it would prevent the measure from taking effect for a long time and may make parts of it ineffective or nonsensical.

The committee doesn’t expect the bill to get enacted in this form – in fact, the committee report often explains that the reason for the change of the effective date is to “further discussion.” How so? Say, for example, SB9999 SD2 has crossed over to the House with a ‘defective date’ of July 1, 2020.

While the House could pass this bill without any changes, it wouldn’t have any immediate effect.

So, if the House wants to pass this bill and have it take effect sooner, they will have to change the effective date.

Here’s how that stimulates discussion:
  • If the bill that passes third reading in the House differs from the bill that passed third reading in the Senate (SD2 in this case), the Senate may disagree with the House’s changes and the bill would go to a conference committee.
  • In conference committee, not only the effective date, but other elements of the various drafts can be discussed and negotiated.

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