With new leadership in both the House and Senate, the major question of the 2015 legislative session has been: when everything changes, how much stays the same? Legislative advocates have been watching to see how much the process has changed – and how things stay the same – with the change in leadership, staff and the function of some offices at the State Capitol.
House Judiciary Chairman John Shott (Mercer Co.) spoke with the Charleston Daily Mail’s Whitney Burdette this week about the functions of the Judiciary Committee and his new role as chairman, giving legislative watchers some information on how things have changed – and how they have stayed the same.
The article offers some significant insight into how that committee works, and how legislative chairmen may go about thinking about their role and responsibilities generally.
The size of the House Judiciary committee, and the sheer number of bills that are required to come before the committee before going to the floor, have led to Delegate Shott forming four working groups of committee members to review all proposed legislation and report back to the chairman with recommendations about whether it should be put on the agenda or not.
What will keep a bill from getting on the agenda? It may need more work, or have some significant questions that need to be answered before it is put to a vote before the committee. It may be a solution in search of a problem, meaning that the problem the bill seeks to address isn’t really a prominent concern.
Bills will also be blocked if they are “inconsistent with the policies [that the Republican] party represents.” Delegate Shott explained, “We’re not going to take up bills that aren’t consistent with what we believe.”
What’s to be taken from this peek behind the curtain? To be an engaged advocate and ally on the issues that matter to you, you must understand how the process works and who the key players are. If you are following a bill that is scheduled to come before House Judiciary, reach out the Delegate Shott’s office to check in on your bill and to establish a relationship. He can be reached at 304-340-3252.