Legislative Branch » Legislative Committees
The Legislature’s committee system provides a very important forum for citizen participation in the legislative process. Committees deliberate on the bills referred to them, take written and oral public testimony, decide what recommendations they wish to make, and submit these recommendations to the House or Senate.
Standing committees serve as a vital link in the operation of the Legislature. Most standing committees are created for the purpose of considering proposed legislation and reporting recommendations thereon. Standing committees normally meet at a regular time and place each day during the legislative session, although the actual number of meetings held is determined largely by the magnitude of the workload. House and Senate standing committees sometimes utilize subcommittees for temporary assignments.
Each standing committee has a secretary who attends committee meetings, sees that all members are supplied with copies of bills and other material, and keeps the minutes, including a record of persons who appear before the committee and the action taken by the committee.
As measured by the number of bills assigned to them, some standing committees traditionally have much heavier workloads than others (e.g., the House and Senate Judiciary committees, and the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees). The number of bills assigned to a standing committee can differ greatly from year to year.
On standing committees, the minority party usually is assigned representation approximately proportionate to the number of members in the party in the particular chamber. The Senate rules require proportionate representation.
Select (Special) Committees
Select committees are created by resolution of the House of Representatives, resolution of the Senate or by concurrent resolution. By statute, any such resolution or concurrent resolution shall specify (1) the manner in which the membership of the select committee is selected (all of which shall be legislators, with minority party representation), (2) the subject to be studied, (3) the time that report is to be made, and (4) the manner of selection of the chairman and vice-chairman of the select committee. Other incidents related to procedure for the study shall not be specified.
Select committees normally are assigned a particular matter to review or investigate and cease to exist after their function has been served and when the final report has been issued. Because select committees are not usually appointed to consider routine matters, their reports are considered in the light of the nature of the assignment of the committee and the nature of the report required thereon.
In addition to standing and select committees, there are several statutory committees. Some of the statutory committees specifically are designated as joint committees. Nevertheless, all are composed of members from both chambers. Many of the statutory committees are “permanent” in that the law contains no expiration date for their operation, but a few are created to operate only for a prescribed period of time. There also are some statutory committees or commissions whose membership consists of both legislators and nonlegislators. In contrast to the standing committees, statutory committees meet throughout the year, but mostly during the interim period.
Legislative Coordinating Council
The Legislative Coordinating Council has seven members that consist of the Senate president, majority leader and minority leader, and the House speaker, speaker pro tem, majority leader and minority leader. The purpose of this council is to act on the Legislature’s behalf when it is not in session. It also has general authority over all legislative services and may adopt and amend rules applicable to its affairs or to meetings and activities of special committees, standing committees or advisory committees. The LCC meets at least once a month in the interim between legislative sessions and a five-member majority vote is necessary to pass any action proposed by the council.