In this week’s report, I’ll take a break from discussing specific bills, and let you know one of my duties in the House. Every bill that gets filed eventually gets referred by the Speaker of the House to a committee that deals with that topic. Bills on farming go to the Ag Committee. Bills on roads and bridges go to the Transportation Committee. You get the idea. There are 34 such policy committees in the House.
If a bill is granted a hearing by the policy committee’s chair, and receives a successful vote in that committee, it then moves on to one of only two Rules Committees for a second look. “Rules” is a strange name for the committee since it has nothing to do with the House’s rules, but instead is about evaluating the merits of each bill, insures that the policy committee didn’t just rubber stamp a bill through the process, and that a bill is ready to be considered by the entire House on the House floor. The Rules Committee can approve a bill (send it to the whole House), vote down a bill (which kills it), not take any vote on a bill (which also kills it), or recommit a bill (send it back to the policy committee for more amendments and hearings). The decision of which option to take on each bill is up to the Rules Chair. I am one of those two Chairs.
Eighteen different policy committees funnel bills to my committee, which is called Rules – Administrative Oversight. Since half of all of the bills passed in the policy committees come to my Rules Committee, I have an important responsibility in deciding the fate of each bill. It is not really about deciding if a bill is good or bad, because they all have their good and bad points. It is about ranking and prioritizing the bills, and passing out the best handful each time the committee convenes. This session, my policy committees have sent me 159 bills to read, review, and decide on. So far, I have passed out 88 of them. Some bills are simple, one-page bills. Others are quite large, like HB1282 which is 390 pages. Ironically, that bill came from a committee called Downsizing State Government.
Up to the halfway point in the session, all of the bills sent to my committee have been House bills. Beginning this week, some Senate bills will be included as well, and eventually Senate bills will be all we hear. Being a Rules Chair is a big responsibility, and I am honored the Speaker of the House thinks enough of my judgment and character to select me for this special duty.
Until next time, health, happiness and prosperity to you and your family.