Senator Josh McKoon to Propose Legislative Process Reform

January 7, 2014 16:01 pm

by Jon Richards · 6 comments

Republican State Senator Josh McKoon offered a legislative session preview to members of the Snellville Commerce club today. In addition to talking about possible agenda items such as a shorter than normal session to accommodate the May primary, which McKoon suggested would include having legislative days during the second week of the session normally reserved for budget hearings, the senator brought up two process reforms he indicated he would push for.

The first would be a change to the way conference committee reports are dealt with. Currently, any conference committee reports must be printed and available to the legislators to read for an hour before they can be voted on, in theory to allow the changes to be digested. McKoon proposes changing this to 24 hours.

Typically, on the fortieth day of the session, many conference committee reports are delivered to legislators desks shortly before 11 PM, so they can be voted on before midnight. There is simply no time to read and understand what changes might be incorporated in them. And while legislative novices might think that the conference reports only contain minor changes from the original legislation, they often have major changes or even marginally related legislation attached to them in hopes of getting something passed.

A 24 hour window to digest conference committee changes would certainly change the way the last day of the session works, but it would also eliminate some of the shenanigans the final hours of the session are known for.

Senator McKoon’s second proposal is to split the session into two parts. During the first 20 days, the legislators would consider and pass the supplemental budget and the budget for the following year. The last 20 days would be spend considering all other legislation.

Why do this? McKoon points out that legislators often receive ‘subtle hints’ to support an unrelated non-budgetary bill, otherwise they might not receive funding for something they personally are interested in, or something that would benefit their constituents. Splitting the session would remove this pressure, and allow fairer consideration of the non-budget bills.

There is another reason for considering a split session, however. Unless we want short sessions like we will see this year every even year in the future, some sort of changes will have to be made. Assuming the election calendar isn’t going to change again, a split session might allow a break for qualifying and a chance to do some needed fundraising before the May primary.

It’s unknown how far Senator McKoon’s proposals will go. But, they do seem to provide for a legislature that is more ethical, transparent and open. And that would be a good thing.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas Adams (@GeorgiaCRE) January 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Senator Josh McKoon to Propose Legislative Process Reform – Republican State Senator Josh McKoon offered a legisla… http://t.co/vZ3wL2rdVO

2g Strategies (@2gstrategies) January 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm

From @peachpundit Senator Josh McKoon to Propose Legislative Process Reform http://t.co/PjQMKcguC8

Dave Bearse January 7, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I enthusiastically support the 24 hour conference committee report rule. The only thing about the last day of the session that need change is a day off in between the penultimate session day and last day.

I’ve reservations about a split session that allows funding raising in between. Legislation heard and moving through Committee during the first 20 days will be teed up for influence by campaign contributions.

Presumably all tax, or its Georgia synonym, fee, legislation that would significantly change revenue would be limited to the first session. I would oppose a split session that would consider major revenue neutral tax legislation to be considered immediately after campaign contributions are received. Not that my opinion matters.

Bill Arp January 7, 2014 at 9:55 pm

How about a rule change that would allow any amendment to be made from the floor. The current way that the rules committee is set up to stop the consideration of amendments. There is no reason that a germane amendment cannot be offered from the floor of the house. This IS the legislative process…….why would people be afraid of letting the general assembly vote on all bills not just the bills approved by a small committee.

Greg S January 8, 2014 at 8:55 am

The more I read from Josh McKoon, the more I like him. Maybe he should run for Governor.

Lea Thrace January 8, 2014 at 9:31 am

That would be heaven. From what I have seen of him, he would be an ideal candidate (maybe even better after another year or two in the legislature). But that is probably precisely why he will not run or succeed. Those who are best suited for some political offices are generally not those who strive hardest to occupy those offices.