Tag Archives: overhaul

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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TRA Restructuring Bill Wins House, Senate Approval

The House has joined the Senate in approving Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to restructure the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, which Democrats contended is unnecessary and unwise.
The bill, SB2247, returns to the Senate for concurrence on an amendment that says part-time directors of the new agency will be given state health care coverage as well as a $36,000 salary. The Senate is expected to approve the amendment, sending would send the bill to the governor for his signature.
(UPDATE NOTE: The amendment was approved, bill sent to gov.)
House Republicans rejected several Democrat-sponsored amendments, including one that would have replaced this year’s Haslam TRA reform plan with last year’s Haslam TRA reform plan, which failed.
Last year’s version called for replacing the present four-member TRA board with three full-time members and a full-time executive director. This year’s version would set up a five-member part-time board with a full-time executive director.
House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh also criticized the Haslam administration for secrecy about the process used to develop the proposal. The reference was to the administration refusing to fully comply with a Chattanooga Times-Free Press request for information on the top-to-bottom review that led to drafting of the proposal. (Previous post HERE.)
The final House vote on the bill was 60-28. The Senate vote was 20-13.

Three Republicans voted no in the House: Reps. Joshua Evans, Greenbrier; Matthew Hill, Jonesborough; and Jimmy Matlock, Lenoir City.Only one Democrat, David Shepard of Dickson, voted for the bill.