DeLeo, Rosenberg agree to a set of rules
Leaders compromise to avoid acrimony of 2015
HOUSE SPEAKER ROBERT DELEO and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on Wednesday announced they had bridged their differences and found common ground on rules for running the Legislature, an issue that led to threats and recriminations at the beginning of the last session in 2015.
Rosenberg agreed to retain the existing joint legislative committees, which are dominated by House members. DeLeo, meanwhile, made two concessions to the Senate. He agreed to move up by seven weeks the date by which bills must be released from the committees and accepted a rule requiring the bills to return to their originating body for initial action.
The changes, if approved by the full House and Senate, mean the existing committee structure, which favors the House, will remain in place. But senators in most cases should now get a chance to push for a vote in the Senate on any bills they propose.
In 2015, senators had complained that too many of their bills ended up stalled in the House-dominated committees. The tension became so high that the Senate voted 39-0 to develop plans to pull members out of the joint committees and establish their own panels, an approach that came to be known as the “nuclear option.” DeLeo at the time was dismissive of the Senate’s push for change, calling it an “impolitic and manufactured reaction to a non-existent problem.”
The proposed rules also require roll call votes whenever the House or Senate vote on bundled or consolidated budget amendments. House-Senate committees appointed to resolve differences between the branches on specific legislation would also have to be appointed two weeks before the end of formal sessions on July 31 of the second year of the two-year legislative session.