January 28, 2008

Louisiana House Committee Leaders Train for New Roles

Speaker Jim Tucker's leadership team stayed an extra day after the historic 2008 Organizational Session to begin training for new responsibilities as chairs and vice-chairs of House committees. Speaker Pro Tem Karen Carter Peterson joined them. Because of term limits, very few of these new chairs and vice chairs have experience leading House committees. With special and regular sessions on the horizon for this class of overwhelmingly new House members, Speaker Tucker felt that leadership training is urgent.
The experiences of other state legislatures were helpful to the Special Committee on Term Limits that met during the previous term, so three key legislative leaders from Texas, Tennessee, and Illinois joined committee staff experts from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the House committee staff in this training session.
Kim McMillan, former House Majority Leader from Tennessee, Steve Rauschenberger, former Senate Republican Leader from Illinois, and Senator Jeff Wentworth from Texas shared strategies for committee planning and preparation, running a fair and productive hearing, norms of behavior for chairs and vice chairs, and the committee's role in developing legislation and making the process open to the public. Tim Storey from NCSL facilitated the presentations and conducted a discussion of what qualities make a good committee chair. Experienced House committee staffers outlined the rules governing committee business in the Louisiana House, emphasizing public notice of hearings, key points of parliamentary procedure applicable to committees, voting in committees, and procedural rules and practices specific to chairing a House committee.
Speaker Tucker directed the leadership team to hold organizational and briefing meetings of their committees during the February special legislative session, so that committee members will become familiar with committee procedure and their subject matter jurisdiction as they go into their first year of sessions.

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