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Thursday, February 3, 2011

House Committees

Speaker Straus stated yesterday that House committee assignments will not be released until next week. Committee appointments are customarily announced on the last legislative day of the week, and the Speaker is then generally unavailable until the next Monday. This gives members time to digest the appointments and, in many cases, cool down.

I expect the House leadership to again follow this procedure next week. In contrast to the Senate committee appointments, I forsee major changes in the composition of the House committees and in individual member assisgnments. Leadership will definitely want the weekend to allow members to settle down.

However, in order to allow the House to begin catching up with the Senate, I believe that it is possible that the House will adjourn on Wednesday next week. Committee assignments would be released; bills, including voter ID, would be immediately referred; and House committees would suspend the posting rules and begin meeting as early as Thursday. Appropriations has already announced that it will begin hearings on Thursday.

The voter ID bill is a top priority of House leadership, and I expect hearings on the bill to begin the week of February 14. However, in order to meet the legal requirements of the Voting Rights Act, it is important that the House move the legislation through the normal process, allowing ample public input, and not to unnecessarily rush it through.