October 15, 2007
Governing by committee
This NCSL post highlights a recent article on state legislative committees, and what role they play in the process of making law. It's interesting to see how much variation there is among the states in terms of committee autonomy. It was also no real surprise to learn that Tennessee ranks very high in this category (the highest, in fact, among House committees).
Now I admit that this is some of the wonkiest of wonk-stuff. In fact, though I myself was curious, I refrained from asking the District 10 Senate candidates the other night which committees each was looking forward to joining (and why), because I suspected that the resulting discussion would bore the audience too much. People didn't come out to hear about that, and not one of the questions submitted by audience members addressed it.
But the findings referred to above demonstrate that committee makeup is an important component of a citizen's awareness, and almost nowhere more so than in the Volunteer State. House of Representatives Speaker James Naifeh is said to control the fate of many a bill via strategic committee referrals — and don't forget the committee assignments.
The current flap over Rep. Rob Briley's erstwhile chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee, while he allegedly carried out an affair with a lobbyist whose client would be very interested in legislation passing through that committee, is but one sliver of the entire picture. We would do well to pay attention to who's on each committee, and how each handles the power that comes with the job.
Government | By joe lance | 10:24 PM