STUDY BROADCASTING INFORMAL SESSIONS OF THE SENATE

By Bob Katzen

The Senate 38-0, approved an order requiring the Senate Committee on Rules to study and provide a report by December 31, 2019 on the feasibility of broadcasting informal sessions online in the same manner and format as formal sessions. The report would include the estimated cost and cost effectiveness of the broadcasting; the recommended format; and additional considerations for the Senate in implementing this proposal. Currently informal sessions are not broadcast.

Informal sessions are ones in which there are no roll call votes and everything is approved or rejected on an unrecorded voice vote. However, at an informal session, a single legislator can hold up consideration of a bill until the next formal session by doubting the presence of a quorum. A quorum is when 21 members of the Senate are present. Since only a handful of legislators attend these sessions, the session would be adjourned for lack of a quorum.

Supporters said that some informal sessions are not the brief, quiet sessions that they used to be. They said major legislation is sometimes approved at informal sessions and the public should be able to watch these online.

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