The Legislative Process

The Committee Process

The chair of each committee decides when the committee will meet and which bills will be considered. The House rules permit a House committee or subcommittee to meet: (1) in a public hearing where testimony is heard and where official action may be taken on bills, resolutions, or other matters; (2) in a formal meeting where the members may discuss and take official action without hearing public testimony; or (3) in a work session for discussion of matters before the committee without taking formal action. In the Senate, testimony may be heard and official action may be taken at any meeting of a Senate committee or subcommittee. Public testimony is almost always solicited on bills, allowing citizens the opportunity to present arguments on different sides of an issue.

A House committee or subcommittee holding a public hearing during a legislative session must post notice of the hearing at least five calendar days before the hearing during a regular session and at least 24 hours in advance during a special session. For a formal meeting or a work session, written notice must be posted and sent to each member of the committee two hours in advance of the meeting or an announcement must be filed with the journal clerk and read while the House is in session. A Senate committee or subcommittee must post notice of a meeting at least 24 hours before the meeting.

After considering a bill, a committee may choose to take no action or may issue a report on the bill. The committee report, expressing the committee’s recommendations regarding action on a bill, includes a record of the committee’s vote on the report, the text of the bill as reported by the committee, a detailed bill analysis, and a fiscal note or other impact statement, as necessary. The report is then printed, and a copy is distributed to every member of the house or senate.

In the House, a copy of the committee report is sent to either the Committee on Calendars or the Committee on Local and Consent Calendars for placement on a calendar for consideration by the full house. In the Senate, local and noncontroversial bills are scheduled for senate consideration by the Senate Administration Committee. All other bills in the Senate are placed on the regular order of business for consideration by the full Senate in the order in which the bills were reported from the Senate committee.

At the beginning of each legislative session, a “blocker bill” is placed on the regular order of business. This bill will never be brought to the floor for action. Consequently, unless the sponsor of the bill has talked to the president of the Senate, indicating intent to suspend the rules and bring a bill to the floor, the bill will not be considered. Thus, the president of the Senate maintains a so-called “intent calendar,” which determines the order of business in the Senate. In 2021, the Senate Rules required a vote of 18 members to suspend the rules so that a bill on the intent calendar could be considered on the floor.