The state Assembly has approved a new set of rules for the chamber, which include provisions aimed at making it easier for leadership to meet behind closed doors.
The rules adopted on Wednesday allow leaders from both parties to set time limits for debating bills before each session day, with the goal of avoiding the lengthy floor periods of the past that have often stretched into the early morning hours of the next day.
Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) says many of the changes simply codify previous agreements from last session, noting that both sides would likely admit that “while we didn’t always agree on policy, the procedures worked very well.”
Republicans do plan to draft further changes to address time limits on debates, which the chamber could take up next week.
The rules package also includes a change to what’s considered a partisan caucus, taking a page from the state Senate to allow leadership from both parties to meet without having to call a public meeting for the discussion. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said all voting will still be done in the public, but there’s an interest from both parties in having the ability to privately talk about issues facing the chamber. He added that “in any workplace, you want to get together and you want to have an opportunity to say ‘how can the place work better’ and just toss out ideas. Sometimes the ideas aren’t so good. Sometimes they’re bad. But you still want to have an open, honest discussion.”