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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: January 29, 2021 03:36 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank and Sen. Lindsey M. Williams, Sen. Katie J. Muth
To: All Senate members
Subject: Rules Reform: Empowering Minority Chairs to Add Legislation to the Committee Agenda
In the near future, we will be introducing a Senate Resolution amending the Senate Operating Rules to ensure that both Majority and Minority standing committee Chairs have the authority to contribute to the committee agenda. This proposed resolution is among a package of Senate Rules Reform Resolutions, many of which are included in SR4, that are intended to empower members of both sides of the aisle to effectively advocate for their constituents. This package of Rules Reforms will ensure transparency in the legislative process, encourage public participation, and hold members accountable to the public. 

Specifically, this resolution will amend the Senate Operating Rules to give the Minority Chair of any standing committee the authority to add legislation to the standing committee agenda for both voting meetings and hearings, provided the Minority Chair complies with proper notice requirements.

Under our current operating rules, the Majority Chair is the political gatekeeper of the committee agenda; they are given unilateral authority over what legislation is added to the committee voting agenda, often protecting Majority Party members from taking hard votes. By permitting the Majority Chair to monopolize the committee with their own agenda, the current rules allow one member to silence the voices of millions of Pennsylvanians.

By authorizing the Minority Chair to add legislation to the committee agenda, we can ensure that all bills referred to a committee will have the opportunity to be voted on. This will help ensure accountability of those elected to serve the public and ensure the voices of the Pennsylvanians that we were all elected to represent are heard and represented.

Please join us in cosponsoring this important change to the Senate Operating Rules. 

Introduced as SR156