The State Budget: Conference Committee
By Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville)

A Conference Committee is created when the House and the Senate pass different versions of a piece of legislation and cannot agree to concur with the amendments of the other Chamber. With the deadline fast approaching for the State Budget to be signed into law, a Conference Committee is set to meet on Tuesday, June 25 to resolve final issues.

With the Ohio Senate adding over 300 amendments to the House version of the Budget, it is no surprise that the bill will go to Conference Committee.

The Conferees will work toward a compromise bill that will be voted upon by both Chambers. This is because both the House and the Senate must pass identical legislation for a bill to become law.

The Conference Committee is usually composed of senior members of the Senate and the House Finance Committees. In this case, Reps. Ron Amstutz and Jeff McClain, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the House Finance Committee, will be joined by Ranking Minority Member Rep. Vernon Sykes to represent the House. Senate Conferees are Senators Scott Oelslager and William Coley, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Ranking Minority Member Tom Sawyer.

At the conclusion of the negotiations, in most cases, there is compromise, and the conferees sign the Conference Report and send it back to the House and Senate, where a vote is taken. The Report is voted up or down; it cannot be amended on the Floor. The rare instance of a Conference Committee Report being voted down would force the General Assembly to produce a temporary budget to allow for the continuing operations of state government.

Once the budget bill is submitted to the Governor, the Governor has the power to line-item veto provisions with which he disagrees. Typically, line-item vetoes are used sparingly, and most often involve policy differences rather than fiscal disagreements. The line-item veto is available to the Governor only in bills that make appropriations.

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