The Bloomington City Council appears divided on the re-introduction of a proposal by council member Steve Volan that would reform the council’s current legislative process. Under Volan’s proposal the legislative cycle would be extended to a four weeks and legislation would have the option of being sent to one of a number of standing committees for further review.
He originally brought the motion before the council at the end of last year with the provision that all legislation *must* be heard by a committee, but drew criticism from members who thought he was trying to get it passed using votes from three outgoing council members. Still, Volan says not enough people take seriously the flaws of the current process.
“I mean it’s taken this kind of debate just to address the idea of how long do we each speak individually at council, how long do our meetings last and what is the council going to do to make these meetings more accommodating to everybody else we supposedly serve,” Volan says.
Council member Darryl Neher agrees the council should find methods to continue legislative cycles when necessary but says he is concerned about the formation of the committees. Because council members may not be on a committee initially reviewing an issue from their district, Neher says it’s possible not all council members would be properly representing their constituents.
“According to council member Volan’s legislation you could pass questions to the committee to ask but that’s not the same as bringing the knowledge, the expertise and the background information that your constituents may have given you into the dialogue, the debate and the questions,” he says.
Volan notes city code already allows for creation of standing committees and says the recommendation of a committee is non-binding when the issue comes before the full council for a vote. Five Bloomington residents who spoke during public comment supported Volan’s proposed legislation, saying it would provide more opportunity for public involvement.
The council will meet next Wednesday to vote on the proposed legislation.