February 6, 2016

Legislature considers rules changes

Majority Republicans in the Legislature are considering possible rule changes, which leaders say could prevent some of the problems that were common in the chambers during the last two year session.

At the start of each session, the Senate and Assembly adopt rules on everything from how bills are debated to how the public accesses the chamber. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) says Republicans are considering some new rules that could take “care of some of the problems we’ve had in the past.”

Those problems last session included disruptions from protesters, debates on legislation that stretched for days, and delays in the start of floor periods that often had bills being passed in the middle of the night. Vos says he “would like to minimize the overnight sessions where people have not really had the opportunity to have a productive debate…it just becomes a long one.”

Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) says security issues, such as when a protester chained herself to a railing, are something he wants to see addressed. Fitzgerald says the chamber was plagued with interruptions related to the galleries, and most of the changes they will look at will likely deal with those issues.

Details of the proposed rule changes have not yet been made available, although drafts are expected to be released later this week. The Assembly is expected to take them up this Thursday and the Senate next week.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:01)

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