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Proposed Amendments to Senate Rules


Steven Andrews

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The proposed amendment to the Senate rules:

Current Text:
(a) DOCKET -- It is the responsibility of the Senate Majority Leader to set the docket of bills to be considered. The docket is the list of bills that are to be brought to the floor before the entire Senate for consideration. There may not be more than one (1) docket being debated at the same time.

(b) DOCKET LIMITS -- All bills that have passed committee are eligible to be placed on the docket. On each docket, it must consist of no less than three (3) bills, and no more than five (5). A docket may only consist of bills that have passed committees. Bills that have not passed committee are ineligible to be docketed (unless a motion to bypass committee is passed, see section 4, clause (a), subclause (1))
Proposed Text:
(a) DOCKET -- It is the responsibility of the Senate Majority Leader to set the docket of bills to be considered. The docket is the list of bills that are to be brought to the floor before the entire Senate for consideration. There may not be more than one (1) docket being debated at the same time; provided that if less than three (3) bills are being debated at a given time, a new docket may be introduced.

(b) DOCKET LIMITS -- All bills that have passed committee are eligible to be placed on the docket. On each docket, it must consist of no less than three (3) bills, and no more than five (5). A docket may only consist of bills that have passed committees. Except for the first docket of a session, bills that have not passed committee are ineligible to be docketed (unless a motion to bypass committee is passed, see section 4, clause (a), subclause (1)).  The Majority Leader shall, in each docket, consult with the Minority Leader and place one bill of the latter's choosing in each docket.  The Majority Leader may proceed with a docket without such a bill only if the Minority Leader, or their designee, doesn't select a bill within 24 hours of being asked for such a preference and before the docket is posted.

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Discussion:
-Allows a new docket to be introduced even if one or two bills are "hanging out" from the previous docket (I considered requiring at least one docket per OOC week and might be inclined towards that instead anyway).
-Requires one slot per docket to be allocated to the Minority (provided that the Minority Leader isn't out to lunch).
-Waives the "Must have passed committee" rule for the first docket (since presumably no bills will be out of committee yet).


Current Text:
(b) GENERAL MOTIONS AND POINTS OF ORDER -- The following is a list of general motions allowed at any time: To suspend and pass, To suspend and debate, Point of order.

(1) TO SUSPEND AND PASS -- A motion made to suspend the rules and pass a bill. Please provide name and link for bill with such motion. Requires a second to be recognized. 2/3 majority required for passage. Twenty-four (24) hours for a vote. If motion fails, the bill shall still be considered as before without prejudice.

Proposed Text:
(b) GENERAL MOTIONS AND POINTS OF ORDER -- The following is a list of general motions allowed at any time: For emergency passage, To suspend and debate, Point of order.

(1) FOR EMERGENCY PASSAGE-- A motion made to suspend the rules and pass a bill. Please provide name and link for bill with such motion. Requires a second to be recognized. 3/4 majority required for passage. Twenty-four (24) hours for a vote. If motion fails, the bill shall still be considered as before without prejudice.

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Discussion:
Retitles the motion "To Suspend and Pass" as "For Emergency Passage" and raises the threshold for passage under the motion from 2/3 to 3/4.  Basically, attempts to indicate that this motion should only be used in a crunch as well as materially differentiating it from the Motion to Suspend the Rules and Debate.

(OOC: Both of these were designed in consultation between myself and Senator Tillman, who has said that she shopped them around her caucus, on the basis of a discussion within the GOP Chat.)

Andrew Byrd (and family), Virginia

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So, for an OOC discussion since most of the logic here is OOC (summarizing the two blocks of discussion in the above post):
-"Suspend the Rules and Pass" feels like it should really only be thrown about if we're on a time crunch to jam something through, with broad support, due to a deadline (e.g. a continuing resolution with a looming shutdown).  "Suspend the Rules and Debate" is a different animal since there's still room to debate and amend, but "Suspend the Rules and Pass" doesn't permit either.  
-Changing the rules to allow the minority one slot per docket comes down to game balance more than anything.  Basically, the game sucks if one party or the other has total effective control of the calendar.  You still need 60 votes for cloture (unless debate totally freezes), so those bills won't be going anywhere without cross-party support, but it at least gives some floor time to those bills.
-Also, I adjust the docket rules slightly so as to waive the requirement that docketed bills have been through committee for the first docket (since that would effectively freeze the Senate floor for the first few days of a session (absent motions to suspend the rules and debate, at least), and probably freeze it from bills that aren't just sailing through for a week or so, and to allow a new docket to be posted once we're down to a certain number of bills.  As I indicated above, I'm inclined to also suggest that a fresh docket be posted once per OOC week (or a similar timeframe) regardless, but I feel as though that's more for discussion than anything.

I'm willing to entertain some tweaks on the committee side of things as well (and I might be inclined to allow the committee phase to be skipped if two dockets come up within the first seven days) but I think this should be a matter for discussion.

Andrew Byrd (and family), Virginia

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I am specifically given to understand that committees weren't included in the mini-session (i.e. the current one) partly due to the schedule, but that didn't preclude their later introduction (and I think that introduction was intended, pending the right number of warm bodies to make it happen).

Andrew Byrd (and family), Virginia

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