Retooling the process


No matter which party has control of the House when it convenes in January, there could be changes to how the body conducts its business.

A record number of bill introductions and floor amendments have bogged down the legislative process, frustrating some and leading to questions whether current procedures are the most efficient use of time and resources.

The House Governmental Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections Committee continued the discussion it began during session about retooling the way things get done at the Legislature.

Chaired by Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr. (DFL-Winona), the committee’s goal is to have proposals ready for the 2009 Legislature.

“When we’re looking at thousands of bills introduced, at some point we have to draw the line and decide, are we just trying to get media attention instead of being productive,” Pelowski said.

Some members suggested a cap on the number of bills a legislator can introduce and a limit on floor debate. Others said the committee process needs to be strengthened so bills can be completely vetted before reaching the House floor.

Beginning with the next meeting, scheduled for June 23, Pelowski wants recommendations based off several reports presented by nonpartisan House staff and from the National Conference of State Legislatures, with emphasis on committee structure and procedures, floor procedures, end-of-session deadlines and better use of legislative time.