Thursday, January 24, 2013

Senate GOP Caucus Files Additional Senate Session Rules for 188th General Court

Today the Senate Republican Caucus is offering a package of rules scheduled for debate during today’s full senate session that if passed, would increase transparency and accountability within the legislative process.  The package offered comes at a particularly important time due to the Senate already slated to take up many important issues for debate early in the legislative calendar.

Highlights of the Senate Republican Caucus’ proposed rules package include:

  • Requiring the Clerk of the Senate to post all roll call votes within 48 hours of a vote being taken;
  • Broadcasting of informal and formal sessions online and making a digital copy of the sessions made available to public access television;
  • Requiring a unanimous vote of all the members present to allow Senate business to proceed beyond the hour of midnight;
  • Mandating that any measure that proposes an increase in taxation by available in print and posted on the Senate website at least 7 days prior for consideration;
  • Allowing any senator to object to the consideration of a particular matter during an informal session, even if a senator is not physically present as long as a written request to the Clerk of the Senate has been received no later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of session;
  • Directing the Senate Ways and Means Committee to include in its executive summary of the state budget any federal revenue source, non-recurring funding, and off-budget spending that alters an existing appropriation;
  • Requiring the Clerk of the Senate to post on the Senate website the text of legislation introduced in the Senate that has not been assigned a bill number;
  • Allowing the opportunity to repeal, add, change or modify any rule if two or more senators propose the measure;
  • Allowing a bill or amendment be divided into two or more separate measures if they are capable of detaching;
  • Pairing of votes only in cases where a senator is absent from the chamber due to military service or physical incapacity; and
  • Prohibiting the use of cell phones or other mobile electronic devices in the Senate Chamber while the Senate is in session.
We must ensure that the rules of the Senate provide as much transparency and accountability as possible as we face important issues.  These proposals for change will not only ensure that members have access to information in a timely way, but also that the public has greater access to what transpires on Beacon Hill as well.