Monday, February 7, 2011

House of Representatives Passes Historic Conference Committee Rules

Since statehood conference committees have not met in an open meeting. A conference committee was nothing more than a petition that the author of a bill circulated to members assigned by the speaker of the House. When the author secured enough signatures on the conference committee report the bill was “passed” out of the committee.
This practice resulted in all kinds of crazy stuff added to bills late in session with little or no scrutiny. Certainly the public was never able to attend a conference committee meeting to hear a bill discussed.

That all changed today in the State House of Representatives. Representatives passed historic House rules that included reforming the conference committee process. The new rules will govern House activity for the next two years. 

Speaker Kris Steele initiated these changes by creating a working group to develop recommendations for reform. I served on the working group along with Speaker Pro-Temp Jeff Hickman, Majority Floor Leader Dan Sullivan, Rules Chairman Gary Banz and Rep. David Dank. The changes were the work product of our group.
Several major changes in the conference committee process are designed to make our proceedings more open and transparent. 
Here is a summary of the changes to the conference committee process:
• All meetings of standing conference committees shall be open to the public. All votes cast in standing conference committees shall be conducted in open, public meetings. 
• The Speaker of the House shall appoint members to serve on the standing conference committees. Every committee chairman and vice chairman of a regular standing committee shall serve as a member of the standing conference committee to which bills coming out of their standing committee will be referred. 
• All standing conference committees shall provide reasonable, public notice of a meeting.  
• All measures sent to a standing conference committee shall receive a hearing if requested by the author. 
• In the event there is a 50/50 split on the standing conference committee between those voting to sign out the CCR and those voting to not sign out the CCR, the author shall cast the deciding vote if the author has not already voted as a member of the standing conference committee.
• No House conference committee report shall be considered for adoption if said report has not been published twenty-four (24) hours before consideration of the report.
• A motion to reject a joint committee report with instructions or a motion to reject a conference committee report with instructions shall not be considered unless said instructions are electronically submitted to the Office of the Clerk prior to the time the author of the measure is initially recognized to present the joint committee report or the conference committee report to the House of Representatives.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...