Big Changes At the Legislature?

Greg Bluestein has written up some of the proposed rule changes drafted by a panel of Georgia State Senators recently, and notes that, if adopted, they could change the pace and structure of the General Assembly. Among the ideas:

  • Earlier Crossover Day  – To be considered, a bill has to pass either the House or the Senate by the 30th legislative day. One proposal could move it to as early as Day 25. It might mean fewer bills -or it could mean a whole lot of piggybacking of zombie bills onto still viable “vehicles” to get them considered.
  • Quicker Conference Committee Reports – In the last five days of the session, any compromise the House and Senate agree on (in conference committee) must be printed and distributed to every Senator at least two hours before a vote. The draft rule change makes that the last four days of the session and allows the Senate to vote to suspend the requirement. Some see this as an ideal opportunity for last-minute legislative shenanigans -and they’re probably right. This one will be fought over.
  • Less Time On “Points of Personal Privilege” -(Powerful) Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) would like to seethe time limit on daily speechifying from the well cut from five minutes to three. Shortening the time ANY elected official can force an audience to listen to them speak is a admirable idea, especially if it’s during the last 20 days of a legislative session when everybody’s got a lot to do.
  • Live-streaming Senate Meetings. Why don’t they do this already? “Secretary of the Senate David Cook said there were still too many technical obstacles to broadcast Senate meetings live online…” but in the back of the room, a civilian sat with his cellphone,”…live-streaming the proceedings on Periscope.” If the House can  do it, and 10-year olds with cellphones can do it, seems like the Georgia State Senate ought to be able to figure it out.

The 2017 session of the General Assembly starts January 9.

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Will Durant
Will Durant

I would still like to see at least a 24 hour delay mandated for a bill to be voted on after leaving a conference committee. Throw in an off day before the last day of the session and no more midnight madness sweetheart bills on that day. And yes, I know Josh McKoon has tried on this one before, I still want it.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Make it 48 hours so that bills can sit the weekend. The makes them much more available for media review, always welcome when shenanigans are being promoted.

xdog
xdog

Lots of luck with those changes. As you noted, senators can easily monkey with the first two. For the third, a pol would rather listen to his own voice than get a free meal, and five minutes is embarrassingly short already. The fourth is crazy because once you let voters watch there’s the chance they’ll remember how you voted the last time.