Photo: Phil Jern (flickr)
Lawmakers will begin work on legislative summer study committees in the next few weeks, looking at issues and preparing bills for next session.
Senate President Pro Tem Long says much of the groundwork for future sessions is accomplished in the summer study committees, but he says the committees had gotten out of control. There were simply too many of them created in statute, and there were concerns about an increased cost to the taxpayers.
“We couldn’t get quorums in a lot of these committees. It looked like Legislative Services would have to hire additional personnel just to staff them,” says Long.
So Long created a bill this past session that limits the number of permanent committees and the range of topics they can consider. He says the bill is already making a difference – this summer, lawmakers are faced with some major issues, including a study of pre-kindergarten education and the business personal property tax.
Long says, in the past, separate committees would have been created just for those issues; this year, they were included in the committees specifically named in Long’s bill.
“I think that’s a good precedent. I think we’re setting an example by saying, ‘Unless it’s a very, very special issue that really requires its own committee, that you go to the permanent committees,” he says.
The bill does allow for special, standalone committees, but they can only last for one year, which Long says will help ensure the same problem isn’t created again.