Reforming The Legislative Process
Published: October 19th, 2006
By: Sen. James Seward

Reforming the legislative process

Reform, reform. It becomes everyone’s cry at this time of the year, and certainly there is always good reason to look anew at how state government can improve. Over the last two legislative sessions, the senate approved rules changes and reforms to improve the legislative process and make it more efficient, open, and accountable, including:

• Ban on ‘empty seat’ voting – Senators now have to be in their seats to vote on bills that are placed on the controversial calendar instead of allowing automatic ‘yes’ votes unless they act to vote against a bill;

• Elimination of party line voting – Senators must vote individually on all bills before them;

• No proxy voting in committees – Senators must now cast their votes directly, either through their personal attendance at committee meetings or, in extraordinary cases, by submitting to the committee chair a signed official committee voting sheet that indicates their approval or disapproval on each bill considered at that day’s committee meeting;

• Minimize irregular committee meetings – Limits senate committee meetings held off the floor during session and encourages more regularly scheduled committee meetings so more members, and the public, can attend;

• Committee staff hiring – Formalizes the senate policy regarding the hiring and firing of committee staff by senate committee chairmen;

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• More public meetings – Senators may call a public forum on an issue within the jurisdiction of the committee;


The Evening Sun

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