The Alabama Senate’s proposed rule changes were introduced on Tuesday and will be debated, and likely passed, on Wednesday as the Legislature moves through its organizing session.
The changes are comparably minor when contrasted with the Alabama House’s recently adopted rule changes to its own legislative process, with the Senate’s most substantial change being the proposed split of the State Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.
The two subsequent committees to emerge would include one over “matters concerning the organization and operation of state government,” while the second would concern itself with “the organization, operation, and government of any incorporated municipality in the state of Alabama,” according to the resolution.
The Committee on State Governmental Affairs would be at most 11 members, while the Committee on County and Municipal Government would be at most 10 members, the bill states.
Other changes to committees include allowing the chairperson to decide quorum, where previously it was “a majority of the membership of each standing committee.” Additionally, language was added to allow vice-chairpersons the ability to sign legislation out of their committee when a chairperson is absent, as long as they receive written authorization from that chairperson.
The number of allowed members for senate committees would also change, including an increase in allowed membership for the Committee on Rules from 12 to 15 members, the Judiciary Committee from 12 to 13, and the Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee from 14 to 16 allowed members.
Another substantial change would be the introduction of majority and minority whips in the Senate. As is the case with party leadership in the Alabama House of Representatives, both the majority and minority leaders in the state Senate, under the proposed legislation, would be able to appoint legislative whips for each party in the chamber.
Language was also added to limit debate on Budget Isolation Resolutions, which are budgetary appendages to House and Senate bills that must be adopted before a bill can be debated on the floor. The proposed total debate time would be no more than 10 minutes, with each BIR requiring three-fifths of the members present for approval before passing. Once adopted, a motion to reconsider could not be used.
The Alabama Legislature will convene at 1 p.m. on Wednesday to continue its organizational session.