|1 Standing committee|
|1.1 How committees work|
|1.2 How legislators are assigned|
|1.3 Relative importance|
|2 Common House standing committees|
|3 Common Senate standing committees|
A standing committee of a state legislature is a committee that exists on a more-or-less permanent basis, from legislative session to session, that considers and refines legislative bills that fall under the committee's subject matter.
How committees work
The cycle of a bill through a standing committee is a simple cycle, but does take time. The following steps illustrate the cycle in which a bill goes through.
- First, a bill is introduced by a member of a state legislature.
- Typically the next thing that a member of the senate or house leadership does with the bill is to refer it to a committee.
- The members of that committee are then responsible to focus on the details of the bill.
- From there, public hearings are held.
- Decisions about the bill's merits are then conferred and decided upon.
How legislators are assigned
The rules that govern how state legislators are assigned to standing committees vary from state-to-state. In general, committee assignments are very much under the control of the Senate Majority Leader (for state senate committees) or the House Majority Leader in the case of state house standing committees.
The fact that appointments to standing committees is significantly under the control of the state legislature's majority caucus is one reason why having majority partisan control of a particular legislative body matters in terms of the legislation that will be considered and approved.
Some standing committees are more important than others in terms of the impact and leverage of the bills that they consider. In most states, the most powerful standing committees are those that deal with finance, appropriations and taxation. However, there are a number of other committees that are common across all 50 states. They include:
- Appropriations/Finance/Ways and Means/Budget- These committees cover budget, appropriations, taxation and general expense related information. Often states will have more than one committee addressing bills in this category.
- Judiciary-The Judiciary committee will often address bills related to court structure as well as issues surrounding judicial selection. Most states only have one judiciary committee.
- Health and Human Services-These committees address bills relating to health care, regulation and social services provided within the state. Occasionally the committees will be split into two, but often they will be combined into one committee.
- Education-These committees address bills related to education and schools. Often they are split into a higher education and primary/secondary education committee. A few states also have separate committees for education policy and education funding.
- Transportation-These committees address bills related to transportation and travel. This can include roads and highways as well as public transportation and mass transit. This is often a single committee.
- Agriculture-Less common than the above committees, Agriculture committees address bills related to the farming industry and are often tied to natural resources.
- Rules committee-These committees establish the rules for the House or Senate for each session of the legislature. It affects the process by which bills are introduced, heard and even voted on. Often the Rules committee is responsible for setting the legislatures calendar, though not always.
|Common House of Representative Committees#|
|Click on a to go to the committees page|