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Expect House to Start Upcoming Session Earlier; Rules Won't Change Dramatically

November 18, 2012 - 6:00pm

The House will start its sessions a little earlier, and one subcommittee will write the House budget for both K-12 education and higher ed, under new rules proposed Friday by leadership for approval by legislators next week.

For the most part, House rules put forward by House Rules Chairman Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, don't include many changes from the existing ones.

For nonmembers, the most noticeable changes will include a new default start time for floor sessions, 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. as it has been in recent years.

Also, at the request of incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, the committee structure will be slightly different this year. He had already outlined many of those changes in committees in a memo earlier this month to members, but the rules lay out the committee and subcommittee structure, showing exactly what committees will exist.

Under the Appropriations Committee in the House there will be an Education Appropriations Subcommittee, rather than separate committees for K-12 and higher education funding.

The House State Affairs Committee will also have an Ethics and Elections Subcommittee this year, which it didn't have last year. Weatherford said recently he wants the committee to consider possible changes to election laws to make vote counting faster, and wants to look at major changes to campaign finance laws.

Lawmakers return to Tallahassee this coming Tuesday for the organizational session for the new Legislature, and are expected to vote to approve the rules then.

House members will continue to be limited to filing six bills each, and two of them must be filed six weeks before the start of session. Exceptions to the limit include local bills, ceremonial bills, trust fund or public record bills related to another measure, and repealer bills.

One difference in bill filing is the removal of an incentive for filing repealer bills that previously existed. In the old rules, if a member filed a bill repealing a law, once that bill got through its first committee, the member got a free extra bill slot. That is gone from the new proposed rules.

Other significant changes include requiring people filing sworn complaints with the Rules Chairman against members of the House to disclose their name and address.

House bill filing deadlines remain the same, requiring most to be filed by the first day of the regular session.

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