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Senate rule change roundup: A look at all the proposals

The legislative session in the upper chamber is off to a roaring start — particularly when it comes to proposed rule changes

With tensions still high between two factions in the GOP, not to mention between both sides of the aisle, multiple resolutions have been floated as potential “olive branches” as session gets underway. And there have been talks that more are imminent. 

Here’s a look at what’s been proposed and where the resolutions stand. 

SR 436: Changes to PQ threshold, adopted

This measure from Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo had a bit of a unique trajectory. The Jackson County Democrat proposed raising the threshold for a previous question (PQ) motion to move forward to 10 senators, up from just five. It also would have required a two-thirds vote for the motion to be sustained. 

However, a compromise amendment offered by Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz was what was adopted by the body: The adopted resolution changed the number of senators needed to move a PQ motion to 10, but still required just a majority of senators for it to be sustained. 

Despite consternation from conservative members who thought Schatz’s proposal should have been discussed in an earlier caucus meeting, the PQ changes from the minority floor leader and president pro tem were adopted in a 22-11 vote

One more interesting thing about the resolution: It was Rizzo himself who brought it up on the floor for the debate and vote. 

SR 435: Changes to bill handling, calendar

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz kicked off the legislative session with a resolution to make clear just who can bring up bills on the Senate floor. 

The resolution would amend Rule 70 to say only the sponsor or handler of a bill can make a motion to override a governor’s veto. An exception would be a senator designated in a letter by the bill sponsor or handler. 

The resolution seems to be a response to a veto session kerfuffle last year when Sen. Mike Moon attempted to bring up a portion of an appropriations bill. However, he was not recognized for the motion since the bill handler was a different senator. 

Schatz’s resolution would also amend Rule 88 to say only the sponsor or bill handler can be recognized by the chair to make an adoption, perfection, third reading, or other motion on a bill or resolution. This includes the same exception from the proposed change to Rule 70. 

This resolution sits on the calendar. 

SR 448: Changes to bill referrals, calendar

After some grumblings from conservatives already this year about what committees their bills have been assigned to, Sen. Bill Eigel proposed a resolution to allow senators to have two of their bills each regular session referred to a standing committee of his or her choice. 

Eigel said the change would allow senators to have “a little bit of control over where their high-priority bills would go.” 

His resolution, which would amend Rule 50, sits on the calendar. 

SR 453: Changes to bill reporting, calendar

Sen. Bill Eigel proposed another change to Rule 50 to allow chairs of committees to report — or, place on the calendar — at least one bill when the Senate is on the order of business of reports of standing committees. 

The resolution is on the calendar. 

SR 466: Changes to points of order, calendar

Sen. Bill Eigel is seeking to amend Rule 10 which relates to points of order. His change would require the president pro tem to decide on any point of order within two legislative days.

The resolution is on the calendar.

SR 467: Changes to Fiscal Oversight duties, calendar

Also from Sen. Bill Eigel, a proposal changing Rule 28 would require the Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight must take action on any Senate or House bill within four legislative days. If no action is taken, the bill could be considered by the Senate for final passage.

This resolution is on the calendar.

SR 468: Changes to committee reports, calendar 

Sen. Denny Hoskins has proposed a change to Rule 50 which would order the submission of committee reports by seniority of the committee chair as determined by Rule 29.

The resolution is on the calendar.

SR 469: Changes to bill referrals, calendar 

Sen. Denny Hoskins proposed a rule change that would automatically assign any bill in a second regular session identical or “substantially similar” to a bill introduced in the first regular session to the same committee it was previously put to.

The resolution is on the calendar.

SR 496: Senate staff employment, calendar 

Sen. Denny Hoskins proposed adding a rule that would require Senate staffers to publicly identify in the Senate journal if they are working with a registered lobbying or political consulting firm. The proposal is another component of the upper chamber’s congressional redistricting fracas.

The resolution is on the calendar.

This article was originally published on Jan. 13, 2022.