Republican House leadership acted swiftly on the first day of session to both consolidate their newfound power and allay Democratic concerns of being relegated to minority party obscurity, as was the case for Republicans in previous sessions. The vast majority of changes involved streamlining the means by which bills are passed, as well as reducing redundancy and waste in the House. Other modifications included creating bipartisan committees to ensure fairness, and increasing transparency in committee meetings. Republicans indicated a willingness to make good on campaign promises to change the way government runs. Restructuring House rules proved to be their first step.
The top 5 rule changes include:
- 3/5 Majority to Censor Speaker: Of great importance to both parties is the minimum number of members necessary to censor a speaker at the podium. This critical majority has been decreased from 2/3 of members present (66%) to 3/5 of members present (60%), fitting more accurately the number of Republicans in office. In doing so, Republicans have gained the ability to remove speakers should they act contrary to party interests.
- Ten Bill Cap: House members may now only file up to ten public bills, whereas before the potential existed to file an unlimited number. Past short sessions saw a rush of last minute bills before the assembly adjourned, causing important bills to be looked over or hurried, and representatives to vote on items they may not have fully understood. By restricting the amount of bills a legislator can put forth, representatives are forced to focus on the issues most important to them and prioritize the time spent on the floor.
- Limited Speech Time: The amount of time given to members for speeches has been reduced to fifteen minutes for their first speech and five minutes on their second speech; both down five minutes. Effectively, this keeps momentum going on legislative actions allowing for bills to be cycled through more rapidly, increasing legislative productivity.
- Increased Committee Transparency: Committee chairs are now required to deliver committee minutes to the legislative library (and thus general public) within five days instead of twenty. By drastically reducing the amount of time records are released to the public, citizens can be more informed about the progress of bills though the legislative system and what is being done by representatives in committee.
- Bipartisan Committees: In past House assemblies, the Speaker historically appointed committee members in a manner that reflected the uneven, partisan makeup of the House. A newly created exception is the Ethics Committee, which will now receive equal membership from both parties, ensuring bipartisan oversight of new ethics legislation.