Speaker Harwell Proposes Changes To Decades-Old House Rules

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) on Wednesday announced she is recommending changes to the Tennessee House of Representatives internal rules that will make the governmental process more efficient and save taxpayer money. The changes follow an effort two years ago to streamline operations.
"Tennessee taxpayers have entrusted us with the task of governing--something I take very seriously," Ms. Harwell said. "These changes reflect the will of Tennesseans: that state government operates efficiently and effectively while saving money.
These changes also reflect the will of the body. After surveying the members of the last General Assembly, we have incorporated some of their suggestions as well. While Congress remains mired in partisan gridlock and continues to waste time, the state legislature is working toward better government."
The changes include:
  • Restructuring the committee system to balance the workload of each;
  • Adopting the annual ethics resolution into the House Rules which will ensure the body is abiding by an ethics policy from the first day;
  • Limiting the number of bills filed to 10 per member annually which will encourage members to prioritize;
  • Reaffirming that each member vote for only him or herself;
  • And deleting the requirement that every document be printed to reduce the amount of paper used in committee and for floor sessions.
Speaker Harwell noted the committee restructuring, bill limits, and paperless measures are among those that will, in the long run, save the Tennessee taxpayer money.
"The new committee system will balance the workloads of each committee, ensuring that they are as efficient as possible. Bill limits will reduce duplication and ensure each member prioritizes their issues. I am seeking to eliminate the requirement that every document we produce as a body be printed in effort for us to adapt to the technology available and reduce the enormous amount of paper used each year. Each of these measures together ensure a more efficient, effective, and accessible government. This will also give us more time for thoughtful, deliberate analysis on each piece of legislation—which is something Tennesseans expect and deserve."
The proposed recommendations will be taken up by the House Rules Committee, which will be appointed by the Speaker in January.

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