OFFICIALS AND THEIR DUTIES
President of the Senate
The Lieutenant Governor is the President of the Senate by virtue of the office. The duties of the Lieutenant Governor include presiding over the Senate, recognizing members wishing to address the Senate, putting all questions to vote, deciding questions of order and referring bills to committees. In the event of a tie vote, the Lieutenant Governor may cast a vote to break the tie.
President Pro Tempore
The President Pro Tempore is elected by the Senate from its own members. The duties of the President Pro Tempore include presiding over the Senate in the absence of the President and appointing the Senate members of all committees, except when committee appointments are made by resolution.
The Senate Majority Leader is appointed by the President Pro Tempore and serves as the majority party's leading spokesperson in floor debate.
The Senate Minority Leader is elected by the minority party and serves as the minority party's leading spokesperson in floor debate.
Clerk and Assistant Clerk
The Clerk of the Senate is elected by the members. The Clerk appoints an assistant to help in carrying out the duties of the clerk. The Clerk reads all bills, resolutions and other documents presented to the Senate, keeps a record of the day's business, enters on the Calendar the bills and resolutions received from the House or from committees, prepares the Journal, keeps a record available to members of the action to date on all resolutions and bills and sees that copy for printing is prepared and that the daily Journal, Legislative Bulletin, Calendar, and personal mail are distributed to the members. The Clerk also signs bills upon engrossment.
Messengers and Doorkeepers
The majority and minority leadership of the Senate appoint doorkeepers, messengers, and a sergeant-at-arms. They serve under the direction of the Clerk and are responsible for addressing the needs of the Senate with respect to messenger service and the distribution of documents.
The Speaker is elected by the House from its own members. The duties of the Speaker include presiding over the House during its sessions, appointing House members of all committees not appointed by resolution, recognizing all persons wishing to address the House, putting all questions to vote, deciding questions of order and referring bills to committees.
Deputy Speakers are appointed by the Speaker of the House and assume the duties of the Speaker in the absence of the Speaker.
Majority and Minority Leader
The House Majority Leader and House Minority Leader are elected by their respective caucuses and serve as their parties' leading spokespersons in floor debate.
Clerk and Assistant Clerk
The Clerk of the House is elected by the members and an Assistant Clerk is appointed by resolution. It is the duty of the Clerk to keep adequate records of the proceedings of the House, to read all bills, resolutions and other instruments presented for action, to keep the Journal and a daily Calendar including accurate records of all transactions between the House and Senate, to keep a record available to members of the action to date on all resolutions and bills, to supervise the distribution of the Journal, Legislative Bulletin, and Calendar and to sign bills upon engrossment.
Messengers and Doorkeepers
The majority and minority leadership of the House appoint doorkeepers, messengers and a sergeant-at-arms. They serve under the direction of the Clerk and are responsible for handling the needs of the House with respect to messenger service and the distribution of documents.
There are eight classes of committees in the General Assembly: standing committees, statutory committees, select committees, joint special committees, senate special committees, house special committees, conference committees and special interim committees.
Standing committees are those to which bills and resolutions are referred. The names and duties of these committees are designated in the rules. If joint rules are adopted, these committees are joint standing committees. If joint rules are not adopted, as was the case in the 1951 and 1955 sessions, each house appoints its separate committees. Senate members on such committees are appointed by the President Pro Tempore and House members by the Speaker. Under the rules, minority party members of the committees are nominated by the minority party leader of each house.
The joint rules prohibit a standing committee from meeting when either house of the General Assembly is meeting in floor session. Committee appointments are usually made on the opening day of a two-year term. The first representative and senator named to a committee by the Speaker and the President Pro Tempore, respectively, become the chairpersons. The rules require that the chairperson or co-chairpersons of each committee schedule an organizational meeting after appointment of the members. In all meetings of a joint committee, and at all public hearings, the Senate and House chairpersons mutually agree as to who shall preside. All questions of order and other proceedings and questions relating to evidence are determined by a majority vote. All matters reported on are first reported to the house in which they originate.
Statutory committees are permanent joint committees that exist by statute and are charged with specific tasks and responsibilities. There are four such committees: the Joint Committee on Legislative Management (Secs. 2-71a to 2-71w, inclusive, of the Gen. Stat.); the Program Review and Investigations Committee (Secs. 2-53d to 2-53k, inclusive, of the Gen. Stat.); the Regulation Review Committee (chapter 54 of the Gen. Stat.); and the Committee for Legislative Internships (Secs. 2-81 to 2-82, inclusive, of the Gen. Stat.).
Joint Special Committees
These committees are appointed to perform a special task and are discharged when that task is completed. The number of members is usually determined by the resolution calling for their appointment. Generally, it is the practice that Senate members are appointed by the President Pro Tempore and House members are appointed by the Speaker. Examples of joint special committees are the committees to inform the Governor that the House and Senate are in joint session, and special investigating committees to function during the session.
Senate Special Committees
Senate special committees are generally of a temporary nature and arise either from the Senate rules or from specific resolution. Unless otherwise designated, the members are appointed by the President Pro Tempore. Committees in this group may include the committee on Senate appointments and the committee on canvass of vote for State senators.
House Special Committees
House special committees are also of a temporary nature and arise either from the House rules or from specific resolution. Unless otherwise designated, the members are appointed by the Speaker. Committees in this group include the committee on canvass of vote for State representatives and the committee on seating arrangements.
Committee of Conference
When the Senate and House pass differing versions of the same bill, a committee of conference is appointed to reconcile the differences and propose compromises which may make the matter acceptable to both houses. The rules provide that such committee shall consist of three members from each house, appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, respectively. If the vote was not unanimous, at least one of the appointments from each house must be from the non-prevailing side of the vote in that house and at least one of the appointments from each chamber must be from that chamber's minority party membership.
Special Interim Committees
The General Assembly sometimes establishes special joint study committees to examine a particular topic during the interim period between regular sessions. In addition, all standing committees continue in operation and may study issues during interim periods.
Prior to the opening of the odd-year session and for a limited time thereafter as established in the joint rules, members and members-elect of the General Assembly may file proposed bills and resolutions in the house in which they serve. The State Constitution provides that in even-year sessions, individual legislators may introduce only those proposed bills and resolutions that are of a fiscal nature. Standing committees may introduce bills on any topic in any regular session of the General Assembly.
Proposed bills state briefly, usually in a single paragraph, the substance of the proposed legislation in informal, nonstatutory language. The text of the proposed bill is followed by a statement of purpose of not more than 150 words. Bills written in formal statutory language may be introduced only by a committee, with few exceptions. Proposed bills may be jointly sponsored by senators and representatives, and any member may co-sponsor a proposed bill originating in either house by requesting the Clerk, in writing, of the house in which the proposed bill is filed to add the name of such member as a sponsor. In the case of a proposed bill in possession of the Legislative Commissioners' Office, such request may be made in writing to the Legislative Commissioners' Office.
The member presents the proposed bill to the Clerk of the House or Senate who assigns it a number. First reading of a proposed bill or resolution is by title and reference to a committee or by acceptance by the house of a printed list, distributed to the members, of the bills and resolutions with their numbers, sponsors, and titles, and the committees to which they have been referred. It is then recorded in the Journal by number and title, with a brief statement of purpose. It is next sent to the other house for concurrent reference.
Each committee separates the proposed bills referred to it into subject categories and, after providing legislators with time to express their views on these proposed bills, may vote to have the Legislative Commissioners' Office fully draft any of these bills. Fully drafted bills that are based on proposed bills are called "committee bills." A committee may also vote to have the Legislative Commissioners' Office draft bills on topics that did not originate as proposed bills. Such bills are called "raised bills." Like proposed bills, committee bills and raised bills are also sent to both houses for a first reading and then referred to their original committee for consideration.
The staff of the committee to which the bill is assigned sends notice of the date and place of a public hearing to the member who introduced any proposed bill upon which the committee bill that is being heard is based. Upon request, such notices are also provided to other interested persons. Hearing notices must also be published in the Legislative Bulletin five calendar days in advance of the public hearing. In determining whether this five-day rule is met for a hearing notice, the first day of publication, the last day of publication, and any intervening weekend days and holidays are counted.
After the public hearing, the committee meets to decide upon its action on the bill. Notice of such meeting is published in the Legislative Bulletin and all meetings are open to the public. The committee may: (1) vote a "favorable" report of the bill, which indicates that a majority of the committee favors the bill and recommends its passage (called a "JF" to signify that it is a favorable vote by a joint committee); (2) vote a "favorable substitute" report of the bill with revised language from the language in the original raised or committee bill (called a "JFS"); (3) vote to reject, or to "box" the bill; (4) take no action on the bill, which has the same effect as boxing it, but does not entail a vote of the committee; (5) vote an "unfavorable" report, which indicates that a majority of the committee opposes the bill and recommends its rejection but, for whatever reason, decides that the entire General Assembly should have the opportunity to consider the bill, or (6) vote a "change of reference" or a "favorable change of reference" to another committee.
As the General Assembly seldom accepts or rejects a bill contrary to a committee's recommendation, it is important for any member interested in its passage or rejection to secure substantial backing and to present convincing arguments on the matter to the committee. The rules permit the members of a committee from each house to divide the committee into separate House and Senate committees for purposes of considering and voting on bills to their respective houses.
The Bill in the House and Senate
Upon a favorable vote, the bill must be first reviewed by the Legislative Commissioners' Office and approved by a Legislative Commissioner before being sent to the house in which it was introduced. The Legislative Commissioners then deliver the bill to the Clerk of the House or Senate, as the case may be, who, under the order of business, "Reports of Committees," presents the report to the particular house. Without discussion, the bill is read the second time (by title only) and laid on the table. Each favorably reported bill is printed and receives a file number distinct from the original bill number. Each file consists of the bill as reported by the committee and drafted by the Legislative Commissioners' Office, a fiscal note prepared by the Office of Fiscal Analysis, and an analysis of the bill prepared by the Office of Legislative Research. No further action on the bill may be taken until the second day succeeding the day on which it is placed in the files on the desk of each member. Bills are placed on the Calendar by title, file number, and bill number in the order in which they are received from committees. Bills that are ready for action (that is, which have been in the files of the members for two days) are marked with an "XX" on the Calendar. The third and final reading of the bill is ordinarily by title only, but any member may request that it be read in full. Following the reading of the bill, a member of the committee that reported it explains the committee's reasons for so doing, and a general debate on the bill is in order. There may be a consent calendar consisting of bills, designated by the majority and minority leaders of the house in which they are pending, which are placed and passed on motion without debate. Any member may move for removal of a bill from the consent calendar and, when so removed, the bill is considered on the regular calendar.
Amendments are prepared by the Legislative Commissioners' Office at the request of a member and may be offered any time prior to final passage of a bill. If a bill is amended on third reading other than to correct clerical errors or mistakes as to forms or dates, the amendment must be approved by a Legislative Commissioner and the bill, as amended, must be reprinted and returned in its new form to the members' files before it can be passed.
Passage and Engrossment
After a bill has passed on the third reading, it is held for one day for a motion to reconsider, which can only be made by a member on the prevailing side of the vote. If not reconsidered, the bill is transmitted to the other house. If the other house amends the bill, it comes back to the first house for concurrence in the amendments. If the amendments are not concurred in, a conference committee may be appointed to resolve the differences. When passed by both houses, the bill is delivered to the Legislative Commissioners' Office for engrossing (preparation of the text into official format) and supervision of printing in its final form. It is then certified by a Legislative Commissioner, signed by the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House, and transmitted by the Clerks to the Secretary of the State who presents it to the Governor for approval or veto.
Action by the Governor
If the Governor receives the bill while the legislature is in session, the Governor has five calendar days, exclusive of Sundays and holidays, to sign it or return it to the house in which it originated with a statement of objections. In the latter case, the bill may be reconsidered and, if passed by at least two-thirds of the members of each house of the General Assembly, it becomes law. If the Governor does not sign or veto the bill within five calendar days after presentment, Sundays and holidays excepted, the bill automatically becomes law unless the General Assembly has adjourned the regular or special session. If the regular or special session has adjourned, the bill becomes law unless the Governor, within fifteen calendar days after presentment, transmits it to the Secretary of the State with objections. In such case, the bill does not become law unless it is reconsidered and repassed by the General Assembly by at least two-thirds of the members of each house of the General Assembly at the time of its reconvening for its constitutionally mandated session to reconsider such vetoes.
If the Governor vetoes any bill or bills after the General Assembly has adjourned, the Secretary of the State must reconvene the General Assembly on the second Monday after the last day on which the Governor is either authorized to transmit or has transmitted every bill to the Secretary with objections (Section 15 of Article IV of the State Constitution), except if such Monday falls on a legal holiday, the General Assembly is reconvened on the next following day. The reconvened session is for the sole purpose of reconsidering and, if the General Assembly so desires, repassing such bills. The General Assembly must adjourn sine die not later than three days following its reconvening.