April 19, 2008

An Experiment in Calendar Management

By: Alfred W. Speer, Clerk

The Louisiana House of Representatives is conducting an experiment in calendar management – scheduling bills for debate on final passage. Speaker Jim Tucker wanted to give the 59 new members more preparation time and opportunity than had ever been allowed in the past. The Speaker remembered his first sessions: crushing work load, legislating by surprise, an inability to track and prepare for bills because no one knew or could predict when a particular bill would be debated on the House floor.

Welcome the House’s Debate calendar! The Speaker announces, and posts on the House’s web site, the bills to be debated on each session day for the following week. The weekly schedule is: regular calendar bills on Monday, consent and regular calendar bills on Tuesday, Special Order and regular calendar bills on Wednesday and consent, regular, and postponed bills on Thursday. Each session day has an allotted number of bills and ONLY those bills will be considered for debate. If a bill on the list is postponed, that bill can only be called on a Thursday of some succeeding week. Once the day’s debate calendar is clear, the House adjourns for the day.

The scheduling of specific bills on specific days will provide members, advocates, and the public sufficient advance notice of a bill’s debate to allow for proper preparation and to allow interested citizens fair warning of the day upon which they may wish to attend the House’s debate.

Through the initial two weeks of this experiment the membership’s reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, the House has managed its debate and workload without problem, and the daily workload has not been crushing. So far, this experiment is a success.

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