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Senate changes rules on timing and notice of hearings

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Senate on Wednesday adopted the rules it will operate under in the next quadrennium. 

One new rule will allow Senate committee chairman to hold public hearings on bills without the previously required 48-hour notice. The new rule says 48-hour notice should be given “when possible.” 

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, sponsored the resolution containing the rule changes. He said that oftentimes, a committee chairman will have a meeting planned and the day prior, a member of the public or a group will request a public hearing. Chairs want to accommodate the request, but don’t want to wait 48 hours. And because lawmakers typically only meet Tuesdays through Thursdays during the session, that delay can be even longer.

“Forty-eight hours in the legislative cycle can put you back several calendar days,” Orr said.

Especially late in the session that is problematic, Orr said.

The House and Senate also approved this week a joint rule that waives the previous requirement of a one-hour notice of conference committees. A conference committee, usually consisting of two senators and two representatives, is called to work out differences between House and Senate-approved versions of a bill. 

The Senate also approved a rule creating majority and minority whip positions, appointed by the majority and minority leaders. Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, will be the majority whip.

“Sen. Chambliss’s attention to detail, keen political insight and strategic-thinking ability make him an invaluable asset in the operation of the Alabama Senate,” Majority Leader Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville said. “He has the respect and trust of our caucus members, which are paramount to helping us navigate challenges that arise in advancing significant legislation.”

Singleton appointed Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, minority whip.

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