Committees provide citizens with a unique, direct opportunity to influence public policy.
With the exception of a few technical bills, all legislative bills must receive a public hearing by a legislative committee. A nine-member Reference Committee determines which bills will be heard by a standing committee. At hearings, citizens have a chance to express their opinions to committee members. Testimony is recorded, transcribed and incorporated into the official committee record. After the hearing, committees may vote to send the bill to General File with or without amendments, indefinitely postpone the bill or take no action on it.
The Legislature has 14 standing committees that are organized around various public policy areas in order to facilitate the processing of legislation. There are also two other types of legislative committees. Select committees are appointed for the purpose of carrying out procedural matters related to the legislative process and the operation of the Legislature as a state agency. Special committees are generally established by state law for a specific purpose, usually focused on providing some form of legislative oversight of a policy area. Members of the Legislature also belong to various interstate compacts designed to achieve mutual public policy objectives.
To keep up with committee hearings, you may wish to access the Legislature's schedule of committee hearings or the legislative calendar. Unless otherwise indicated, hearings begin at 1:30 p.m. Each bill is introduced by the senator who sponsors it. After the senator finishes his or her introduction, the committee chairperson will ask proponents of the bill to come forward and state their reasons for supporting the measure. Then, the chairperson will ask opponents of the bill to state their opinions, followed by neutral testimony.
More information on testifying at a legislative committee hearing can be found in the Tips on Testifying at a Committee Hearing section of this site.
You can download a printable list of committees and their members.
Interim study resolutions are introduced by senators and committees in order to examine public policy issues in-depth during the interim.