First off, it appears that the Senate is trying to save some trees, as several of the tweaks simply reduce the number of copies of certain documents that must be filed.
Here are some of the more substantive changes:
- Any senator can now be approved by the committee chair to speak for five minutes on a nomination being considered.
- The rule prohibiting people with a stake in legislation from being on the Senate floor was strengthened to explicitly apply to people who would be allowed under other circumstances. This essentially means that senators’ family members or former Senators who are now lobbyists are not allowed on the Senate floor.
- Instead of requiring a majority of all senators, a motion to petition a bill out of committee may now also be made to a standing committee. This means that a majority of committee members can approve moving a bill out of committee, even over the objection of the committee chair.
- There is now a thirty minute limit on the amount of time a particular senator may speak during the four hours of debate allowed on each bill.
- Senators are not allowed to direct motions to petition at the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee is where the Senate leadership sends many bills to die, so this exception severely weakens the impact of the rule allowing members to petition committees instead of the full Senate.
Here is a red-lined pdf of the new rules (see the bookmarks for quick links to the revised sections).
Categories: General, Legislative Rules