House of Representatives Standing Committee Operation

The House of Representatives has many types of committees.. They include standing committees, subcommittees, select committees, study committees, and advisory committees. This memo focuses on standing committees.

The House Rules establish standing committees. The House currently has 17 standing committees. Standing committees act upon bills which create, repeal or amend state law. The Speaker of the House generally assigns bills to committees based on subject matter. For example, the Committee on Transportation handles bills about highways, airports and traffic safety. The Speaker will assign a bill to two or more committees if it overlaps into more than one committee's area of interest. For example, the Speaker may assign a health insurance bill to the Committee on Health and the Committee on Banking and Insurance.

Standing committees have regularly scheduled weekly meetings during the legislative session. These meetings are an opportunity for public debate on bills and issues. The committee chairman prepares the meeting's agenda in advance. The committee may only discuss items on the agenda. The chairman sets the order that the committee will consider agenda items.

The committee chairman calls the meeting to order at the appointed time and the secretary takes attendance. The chairman then generally informs the committee of the order for hearing bills. He then calls for the first bill. A member, usually the vice-chairman, moves the bill and another member seconds the motion.

The chairman then usually asks the committee research staff member to explain the bill to the committee. After the staff person summarizes the bill and answers questions, the chairman ordinarily invites members of the audience to speak. The audience is frequently filled with lobbyists, other legislators, lobbyist's staff, agency representatives and members of the public.

Often, the committee amends the bill. To amend the bill, committee members move, second and pass a document that references the bill by page and line number and describes the changes the committee wants to make.

After the committee's debate of the bill and any amendments, the chairman calls for a vote. The committee generally either passes or fails the bill. The committee's passage of a bill is only a recommendation to the whole House. The House will later vote to accept or reject the committee recommendations.

The chairman adjourns the meeting when the committee finishes its business. The secretary then delivers the bills, amendments and reports to the Chief Clerk and begins preparing the committee minutes.