On Friday, the Arkansas Legislative Council will meet to – among other things – consider a report from the Executive Committee of the ALC which has proposed revisions to their rules. Many of you probably fell asleep reading that sentence, but wake back up – this could be important. As we know, whoever makes the rules wins the game.
The notes from the executive committee, which met last Monday, show that there was some discussion between the Democratic chairman, Sen. Luker, and the Republican’s pick for House Speaker, Rep. Rice, as to the effective date of the rules changes. From the minutes…
Senator Luker made a motion to adopt the proposed revisions to the Rules of the Arkansas Legislative Council. The motion was seconded. Representative Rice made a substitute motion to Senator Luker’s motion to revise Rule 8(b), concerning the requirements for quorum and action in a Legislative Council Subcommittee, to have an effective date of January 1, 2013. There was discussion of the substitute motion, and upon a vote, the substitute motion failed. The original motion by Senator Luker was then voted on and carried.
The changes to the rules that will go into effect immediately if adopted on Friday will make it easier for ALC to pass motions made in committee. If you don’t know, ALC serves much like a mini-state legislature when the General Assembly is not in session.
One rule for example, will allow a motion to pass with a majority of those present instead of a majority of the committee’s total membership. Another rule would make it easier for alternates to vote and another rule will allow ex-officio members to vote and count for a quorum. The rule changes would extend to the subcommittees of ALC as well.
Now would the Democratic majority want to make it easier for the ALC to pass out motions now rather than wait until January when the new legislature is seated? Could it be that they see the distinct possibility that the majority may shift by then and they want to pass a few more items first? Could the current Democratic majority lame-duck legislature go ahead and get the ball rolling on some items on their agenda, such as being able to implement some of the first phases of ObamaCare with that $18.5 million grant they got yesterday?
Anyway, the meeting is at 9:00 am Friday morning so we will see what happens.
Here are the full proposed rule changes (below)…
UPDATE – The Democrats tried as hard as they could to ram these rules changes through in the ALC meeting this morning. Sen. Salmon insisted that were necessary to pass some important items but declined to explain exactly what. But Republicans were successful in blocking the changes in a straight party line vote.
- ·Rule 5.(a), p.1: The stricken through language was moved to Rule 5.(d).
- · Rule 5.(d)(1), pp.4-5: This rule sets the number of members on each ALC subcommittee at 20, with 8 Senate members, 8 House members, and 4 ex officio members (the Senate and House ALC Co-Chairs and the Senate and House ALC Vice-Co Chairs). This rule has an effective date of January 1, 2013, so as not to require any of the subcommittees to adjust their membership at this time. With a January 1, 2013 effective date, the new membership number can be taken into account when subcommittee selections are made for the next biennium.
- · Rule 5.(d)(2), p.5: This section was added to state that the ALC Co-Chairs and Vice-Co Chairs, as ex officio members of all ALC subcommittees, “shall enjoy the same rights and privileges as other members of the subcommittees”. This language mirrors the language found in Arkansas Code § 10-3-301(a)(3)(A), which states that the listed ex officio members of the Legislative Council shall enjoy the same rights and privileges as other Legislative Council members.
- · Rule 5.(d)(3), p.5: This language already exists in the rules and was simply moved from Rule 5.(a)
- · Rule 5.(e), p.5: Paragraphs (1) and (2) are drawn from the statute at Arkansas Code § 10-3-301(b), which reads that alternate members shall be allowed to vote if the member or alternate he or she “represents is not in attendance”. There is currently nothing in the rules that deal with this issue. Paragraph (3) defines “not in attendance” by stating that a member or first alternate will be considered to be “not in attendance” when he or she is determined by the chair to not be in the committee room at the time that the motion on which action is required is made.
- · Rule 5.(f), p.5: The proposed revision adds the words “for purposes of that study only” to clarify that a member becomes a temporary non-voting ex officio member of a subcommittee to which a proposal is referred for study only for the duration of that study
- · Rule 5.(i)(2)(A), p.6: This new subdivision adds a requirement that a subcommittee of Legislative Council obtain prior consent of the ALC Co-Chairs before incurring any special expenses for their meetings or investigations. “Special expense” is defined as any expenses incurred beyond payment of per diem and mileage, and includes such things as witness fees, interpreter fees, and court reporter expenses
- · Rule 5.(i)(3), p.6: This rule clarifies how a subcommittee meeting may be called. The current rule simply states that a meeting may be called by “the chair”, however, each subcommittee has two chairs. The proposed revision states that the meeting may be called by either chair or by a majority of the members of the subcommittee
- · Rule 5.(i)(4), p.6: This provision was moved to Rule 5.(d)(1)
- · Rule 8.(b), p.7: This proposed revision changes the quorum and action requirements for ALC Subcommittees to mirror the provisions for the Legislative Council. The revision clarifies that the ex-officio members count towards a quorum and changes the requirement for action from “a majority vote of the full membership” to “an affirmative vote of a majority of the members present”.
- · Rule 9.(d), p.7: This rule states that a substitute to a substitute motion is allowed, but that a substitute motion to the third degree is not. This is the rule that has been followed in ALC meetings and that appears in the House and Senate Rules.
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