INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier lawmakers flitted from room to room and meeting to meeting at the Statehouse Monday trying to reach compromises on legislative proposals large and small, as the clock ticked toward Wednesday's mandatory adjournment.
"There's still a lot of work to be done," said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. "We hope to have some strong conference committee reports tomorrow (Tuesday) and bring this to a successful close."
All the measures under review have passed the House and Senate, both of which are Republican-controlled. But they were approved with different provisions, and must be reconciled and re-approved with identical language to advance to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
At least two of the items still outstanding are Holcomb priorities: expanding workforce development programs in Senate Bill 50 and House Bill 1002; and regulating autonomous vehicles in House Bill 1341.
State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, presided over a sometimes combative conference committee hearing on the self-driving vehicles measure, with auto manufacturers and computer companies pressing for the "hands-off" Senate version to become law versus the House-approved state safety mandates.
"We're on about draft 24," Soliday said, as the committee of two representatives, two senators and several lawmakers serving as nonvoting advisers sat down in a basement committee room to review a proposed final version of the legislation.
Matters were similarly contentious on the fourth floor as legislators representing Gary and Muncie fought to protect their financially struggling school districts from essentially losing the elected school boards that caused most of the problems.
"We cannot afford to disenfranchise the local community," said state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, during a discussion of House Bill 1315.
If the conferees on either of those measures, or the more than 50 others in conference committees, ultimately agree on a draft proposal, it then is presented to both chambers' Republican and Democratic caucuses in private meetings.
Legislation deemed acceptable by the the four caucuses — or just the majority Republicans if the Democrats refuse to go along — must also be approved by the leadership-controlled House and Senate Rules Committees before advancing to the full chambers for final votes.
"I can tell you that everything we think is important will be done, and we're concentrating on those issues right now," Bosma said.
"There's a lot of extra items that only have impact for a small group of people, and maybe a few legislators, so they're going to have to work diligently to make this happen."
State law requires the General Assembly to end its annual session at or before midnight Wednesday.
Bosma predicted as recently as Thursday that adjournment would come by 5 p.m. He now believes: "Five o'clock would be a little aggressive at this point. It might be a little later."
Once a proposal passes the General Assembly it is signed by the House speaker, Senate president and lieutenant governor before being presented to Holcomb for his approval or veto.
The governor has one week after receiving an enrolled act to either sign it into law or return it with his objections.
The Legislature can override a governor's veto by a simple majority vote. That's the same needed to pass the measure in the first place.
Indiana's governors do not have line-item veto authority to strike some parts of a measure while allowing others to take effect.