Tag Archives: number

On Harwell’s Overhaul of House Rules and Committees

House Speaker Beth Harwell has proposed a major overhaul of House rules that includes a limit on the number of bills a lawmaker can file, a move to end “ghost voting” and a realignment of the committee system.
The rule revisions will require approval of the full House on a two-thirds vote after the 108th General Assembly convenes on Jan. 8. They will first be vetted in the House Rules Committee.
Harwell said in a statement that she believes the changes “reflect the will of the body” based on a survey of representatives in the last legislative session.
She said the changes also reflect citizen wishes that state government operate “efficiently and effectively while saving money.”
“While the Congress remains mired in partisan gridlock and continues to waste time, the state Legislture is working toward better government,” Harwell said.
Among the major changes:
–Each representative will be limited to filing 10 bills per year, though with some exceptions. That would be about half the average number of bills filed per representative in the last legislative session, which saw 3,887 House bills filed over the two-year life of the 107th General Assembly.
Not counted toward the 10-bill limit would be legislation filed on behalf of Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, so-called “sunset” bills that extend the life of an existing government agency and bills that apply only to one city or county.

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Haslam Wants Legislators to Back Off on Bill Filings

By Erik Schelzig
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam wants Tennessee lawmakers to file 700 fewer legislative proposals next year.
The Republican governor said in a speech Tuesday that he would like the number of bills reduced by one-third, or from the about 2,200 filed this year to the 1,500 range.
“As Republicans, we’re saying we’re the party of smaller government,” Haslam told reporters after the speech. “Let’s see if we can do that in terms of bill proposals.”
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis criticized the governor for trying to interfere in a separate branch of government.
“I do not think it’s appropriate for the governor to try to dictate to the Legislature how to do its business,” he said. “I don’t believe that is the best interests of Tennessee.”
But House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, said the governor’s comments dovetail with efforts already under way in the General Assembly, where the GOP holds large majorities in both chambers.
Harwell said her office plans to send a memo to House members this week outlining a mechanism to avoid duplication of efforts.
Attorney-client privilege currently prevents the lawyers who draft legislation from informing other lawmakers that similar proposals have already been filed. Harwell said a new form will allow lawmakers to waive that privilege and allow the legal staff to divulge the subject matter of the bills they are working on.
“It’s consistent with the Republican philosophy that less government is best,” she said.
The speaker said she was pleased that Haslam shares the desire to cut down on the volume of legislation, but agreed that the governor and Legislature have different roles.
“The role of the Legislature is to develop and pass laws, and the role of the governor is to administer,” she said. “I don’t take lightly the role of the Legislature.”

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