2021 legislative session kicks off
Following the General Election in November, many new faces were sworn in Tuesday, including 22 new representatives and five new senators. That increased the super majority of the Republican party in both chambers, 75-25 and 30-8, respectively.
The House announced some changes to the rules that guide its session.
It abolished the use of the consent calendar, which grouped bills together under one vote rather than individually considering each bill.
Bills no longer have to be posted in committee for three days prior to a reading; instead only one day will be required. Posting of some bills has been waived by legislative leadership in the past, and House Majority Floor Leader Steven Rudy explained that in a short session the rule change will simply forego the need to waive posting.
In light of COVID-19, lawmakers may vote remotely from their office or if exposed to the virus, they may vote from their vehicle, but it must be on the Capitol campus.
The Senate will require members to cast their votes on the Senate floor. However, committee votes may be cast from member offices.
Both House and Senate leadership will require lawmakers and staff members to wear masks in the chambers. Both chambers have also reduced the number of staff on the floor, and both have amended or deleted requirements that paper copies be produced, all in an effort to reduce the possible spread of the virus.
Both chambers took the unusual step of giving the first of three readings to priority bills today, an atypical move for most opening days.
The 2021 regular session is the shorter session with a maximum of 30 legislative days available for the General Assembly to take action.
View the full calendar here, although it will be subject to change. Several legislators have intimated the calendar will change to include working this Saturday, Jan. 9, along with adding some days next week to pass priority legislation and push the budget process to the front of the session rather than waiting until the final days to do so.
Both Chambers will gavel in tomorrow at 2 p.m. EST. You can click here to watch actions taken on the House and Senate floors and in committee meetings throughout the session.