Rules Committee, Virginia State Senate
Per the Senate Rules, committees of the Virginia State Senate are assigned by the majority caucus. The caucus submits a nominations report for all committees that must be approved by a majority vote of the chamber. Committees are assigned at the start of each term. A majority of appointed members make up a committee's quorum. The President is not recognized as an "ex officio" member of any committee.
See rules: Senate Rules
|“||A Committee on Rules, which shall be in addition to the foregoing standing Committees, consisting of the standing Committee Chairs; the President pro tempore, if the person is not a Chair; the Majority Leader, if the person is not a Chair; the Minority Leader; and other Senators to comprise not more than 17. The Chair of the Committee on Rules shall not be Chair of any standing Committee. The Committee shall consider all resolutions amending or altering the Rules of the Senate; all joint rules with the House of Delegates; all bills and resolutions creating study committees or commissions; and all other resolutions (except those of a purely procedural nature, those concerning nominations and appointments to any office or position in the Commonwealth including the nominations of Justices and Judges, and those concerning constitutional amendments). The Committee may report such bills or resolutions with the recommendation that they be passed, or that they be rereferred to another Committee. In considering a bill or resolution, the Committee is empowered to sit while the Senate is in session. There shall be a subcommittee of the Committee, consisting of the Chair and members appointed by the Chair to equal the number of House members appointed to the subcommittee, which shall exercise on behalf of the Committee such powers as are delegated to the Committee when acting jointly with the Committee on Rules of the House of Delegates or a subcommittee thereof.||”|
In February 2014, on the back of their new majority, Democrats amended the chamber's rules to allow the chair of the Senate Rules Committee to veto any senate bills that have been heavily amended by the house. Republican senators spoke out against the change, saying that the change removes voter accountability and creates a so-called "super senator" with more power than the lieutenant governor. The move is also controversial because the chamber rules are typically amended at the start of each quadrennium following an election. Senate Democrats defended the move, claiming it allows them to prevent the house from hijacking bills, as happened in 2011 when a senate bill on hospital infection control was transformed into a bill creating new building codes for abortion clinics in the house. “We now have the majority, and we have a responsibility to use that majority to get to work on the issues that voters care about,” said Dick Saslaw, the newly-appointed majority leader.
- Virginia State Legislature, "Senate Rules," accessed January 27, 2014(Rule 18)
- Virginia State Legislature, "Senate Rules," accessed January 27, 2014(Rule 20(e))
- Virginia State Legislature, "Senate Rules," accessed January 27, 2014(Rule 19(a))
- Washington Post, "Democrats take control of Virginia Senate," January 28, 2014
- watchdog.org, "GOP calls Dems’ Senate takeover ‘outrageous power grab’," January 29, 2014