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How Legislative Committees Work


 

Every bill will be presented or “heard in committee” at some point in the bill process.   Many bills are considered during the time that the Legislature is not in General Session.  This time is known as the “Interim.”  A bill must be considered by a committee and, if the bill has a fiscal note (meaning that there is a cost which must be funded), the bill will also be considered by an Appropriations subcommittee.

 

Standing Committees

 

Standing committee meetings are held by the House and Senate during the legislative session.  The committees that most often consider public safety bills include: House Judiciary Committee,     House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, House Retirement and Independent Entities Committee, Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee,  Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee, Senate Retirement and Independent Entities Committee and Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.  These committes offer citizens the opportunity to listen to and comment on legislative issues. If you are interested in a particular bill, you may contact the chair or staff analyst of a specific standing committee to schedule your testimony.

 

Interim Committees

 

Interim Committees study key issues facing the state and recommend legislation for the upcoming session.  These committees meet jointly on the 3rd Wednesday of every month between sessions from April through November and serve as an opportunity for the public to speak and give their input to the legislature concerning matters being considered.  Offering valuable information and opinions regarding issues being considered in the interim committees is an excellent way to participate in the lawmaking process.  Many bills that are ultimately passed begin as “committee bills.”  This means that the bill was presented to an Interim committee and passed out with a favorable recommendation.  A bill may even be passed out with a recommendation that the bill be placed on the “Consent Calendar.”  This means that the bill will not likely require further committee consideration during the General Session of the Legislature and it increases the chances that the bill will be passed during the session.  Interim committees of particular interest to public safety include: Judiciary Interim Committee, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee and Government Operations Interim Committee.

 

Appropriations Committees

 

The governor prepares a budget each year for which the legislature has a responsibility to review and approve funding for all of state government.

 

There are ten appropriations subcommittees, appointed from all the members of the House and Senate by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.  Each of the appropriations subcommittees considers a specific portion of the budget and makes recommendations to the executive appropriations committee, which consists of all the legislative leaders of both parties in the Senate and the House.  The legislators alter the budget as necessary and pass a final appropriations bill.