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It is my intention to utilize a few smaller, more frequent consent calendars during the remainder of the session to allow the body to address some non-controversial, non-prioritized bills in an efficient manner. This memo serves as a guideline to the criteria I will rely upon as I evaluate the consent calendar requests from members.
As a reminder, the procedures for consent calendar are outlined in Rule 5, Section 6 of our Legislative Rules. As stipulated in this rule, only bills advanced out of committee with no dissenting votes are eligible for consent calendar.
The consent calendar procedures outlined in the rules provide that bills on consent calendar may be removed from the agenda by the written request of three or more senators. Additionally, the rules provide that bills remaining on consent calendar will be voted on at the expiration of 15 minutes or when debate ends, if less than 15 minutes. Similar to cloture, the consent calendar rule provides for a vote to be taken on the pending matter(s) under discussion, followed by a vote on the advancement of the bill.
Because our rules provide for a guaranteed vote on consent calendar bills, I will select bills for which the debate is anticipated to take less than 15 minutes. To that end, I have established additional guidelines pursuant to my authority in Rule 5, Section 6(a). A bill that fails to meet each of the following guidelines will not be placed upon a consent calendar.
1. Bill is non-controversial. Generally, bills do not fit consent if anyone testified at the committee hearing in opposition, and a committee amendment does not take care of the testifier(s)’s concerns.
2. Topic the bill opens up is non-controversial. For example, a bill which makes a small change implicating a charged social issue is not consent material. The bill itself may not be controversial, but the topic opened up is controversial. This judgment shall be made at my sole discretion.
3. Bill does not add a lot of changes. A bill adopting a new act or making several changes to an existing law is generally not consent material.
4. Bill does not have a general fund impact. Bills which appropriate general funds resulting in a net loss, bills resulting in the reduction of revenue to the General Fund, and all tax expenditure bills are not consent material.
5. Bill has been reported to general file before a letter of request has been delivered to my office.
Although consent calendar bills may have a committee amendment, consent calendar bills will not be allowed to be used as a vehicle for other bills. While I cannot prevent the body from adopting amendments to a consent calendar bill, if any amendments are adopted on the floor which add new subject matter, the bill will not be placed back on the agenda. Floor amendments which clean-up the original provisions of the bill are acceptable.
On Monday, March 15th, I will begin accepting consent calendar request letters from the principal introducer of a potential consent calendar bill. The cutoff date to have a bill considered for the first consent calendar will be by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 18th. I will provide deadlines for additional consent calendars as I make plans for scheduling. If you have a bill which you believe meets the eligibility criteria for consent calendar, please hand deliver a letter to my office prior to each deadline I provide.
I will evaluate each request and develop my list of bills to place on consent calendar. Pursuant to past practice, the list of consent calendar approved bills will be published on the agenda prior to the day we take up consent calendar.