Friday, March 02, 2007

House Rules: Greater Debate, More Openness and Transparency

After weeks of discussions with Democrats and Republicans, as well as various advocacy groups pushing reforms, House Speaker Joe Hackney on Wednesday announced the rules that the House will abide by during the next two years. The Speaker said the new rules will "ensure greater debate, openness, and transparency in the way we do business in the House of Representatives. The rules that will govern the House during the next two years will allow us to accomplish our legislative goals regarding education, health care, our economy, and other important issues, while also strengthening the trust and confidence of the people of North Carolina, which must be our top priority each and every day."

The 2007-08 House permanent rules, House Resolution 423, will address the following issues:

· No special provisions will be added to the budget bill unless they pertain to appropriations or the raising or reducing of revenue. The House abided by this rule during last year's session, but it will now be a permanent part of the House rules.

· No same day consideration of legislation without the approval of the House, which will allow ample time for the study of legislation before a vote.

· No "floaters" or members who serve on all committees. The position of a "floater" was first included in the House rules in 1995.

· Required consultation with the Minority Leader regarding committee assignments. Speaker Hackney collected and considered the committee preferences of all House members and consulted with Minority Leader Stam during the opening weeks of session prior to announcing committee assignments.

· March 30th deadline for adding new members to permanent committees and subcommittees, except in cases of vacancies.

· No "blank bills." All legislation introduced in the House must contain substantive provisions. The Senate rules allow each Senator to introduce three so-called blank bills per session.

The permanent rules package was considered by the House Rules Committee on Thursday afternoon and the full House is expected to vote on the bill early next week. To view the entire bill, go to:

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