The second session of the 112th Congress is just getting under way as members of the U.S. House of Representatives return from recess this week and the Senate does the same next week.

The second session creates a firm deadline for Congressional action on outstanding legislation. This means lawmakers must act on all pending bills from the first session of the 112th Congress prior to the end of the second session, or be prepared to introduce the bill as new when the 113th Congress convenes in January 2013. The same time constraint exists for additional legislation introduced this year.

The process for a federal bill to become law consists of these steps: (i) introduction, (ii) committee referral and action, (iii) publication of a written report, (iv) floor action, (v) conference committee (if necessary), (vi) action by the president, and (vii) veto override (if necessary).

Of immediate concern for lawmakers is how to proceed with the payroll tax cut issue beyond the temporary two-month extension Congress passed last December that expires on February 29, 2012. This process may impact certain tax incentives already in place for small business including many in the horse racing and breeding industry. Watch this space for updates.