INDIANAPOLIS | It's conference committee week at the Indiana General Assembly, which means darn near anything can suddenly appear in any piece of legislation that looks like it's headed for the governor's desk.

"I've seen lots of strange things happen in conference committees," said state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary.

Officially, when legislation is approved by the House and Senate but contains different provisions, a few members from each chamber meet in a conference committee to decide what should be in the final version of the legislation.

The conference committee report, containing the agreed-upon new bill, is then approved again by both chambers before going to the governor. This satisfies the Indiana Constitution's requirement that the House and Senate each approve identical legislation.

But in practice, conference committees will take proposals from bills that are not moving and insert them into legislation that is-- often reviving measures once thought dead for the year.

State Rep. Chet Dobis, D-Merrillville, said conference committees are often where the real work of the General Assembly gets done.

Few rules govern the process, but in general either the House or Senate must have approved a proposal once for it to go into a conference report. The proposed addition also must be germane, or close to the same subject, as the original bill.

State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, said conference committees this year may not lead to as many dramatic changes as in years past because Republicans control both chambers of the General Assembly and already manipulate the process.

"Conference committees usually are most effective and entertaining when a Legislature is under two-party control," Lawson said.

But 2011 is still a budget year, and House Bill 1001 -- the state's 2012-13 budget -- is exempt from the germaneness requirement.

That gives lawmakers a last-minute home for just about anything they want to try to slip into law.

They'll have to move fast, though. The legislature is required to adjourn for the year no later than Friday.

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