Utah Senate Making Some Tweaks to Their Committee Rules

Sometimes you need to write your rules down so everybody is on the same page.

SR 1, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van Tassell (R-Vernal), codifies a number of things the Senate is already doing in their committee meetings, but they haven't written down yet. For example, the resolution allows committee chairs to limit the testimony of witnesses, something they already do, and gives concrete procedures for considering legislation.

"We're trying to get consistency," says Van Tassell. "This will probably help the new people more than some of us that have been around for a while. Instead of looking through the rule book, this let us know where to find it."

Much like the "house rules" different families have for board games like Monopoly, Van Tassell says there are some quirks in the Senate, and he welcomes the chance to have them written down.

"I've had those committees where you have 20 people who want to talk, and you don't have time for that. The chair has always had that option, but it hasn't been written down."

There are a couple of changes in the new rules as well.  Senators will get more mail privileges, the ability to mail five letters per day during the general session and 10 letters per month during the interim.

The resolution also gives the president of the Senate the ability to appoint a vice chair for standing committees who will be able to run the meetings if the chair is not absent. If the president does not appoint a vice chair, the chair of a particular committee may do so.

"We haven't done that in the past and we might not do that in the future," says Van Tassell. "But at least it will be in the rules."