Our members come in from all over the state, so Monday mornings we begin our formal day at 10:00 a.m. in the House of Representatives. The rest of the week the Assembly begins at 9:00 a.m. There are 65 representatives and some must fly in to be present for the week.
Each day a member of the clergy, invited by a representative, starts our day with a prayer. Following the prayer, a school class from any grade level is invited to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Please, give me a call if you would like to know more about this opportunity. I invite our clergy members and our school children to be part of our activities and it would be my honor to have you here with us.
After these two items, we are called to order and we have roll call. The Speaker leads us through the first events of the day, including third readings (more to come on what this means). Then a member of the majority party leads the Assembly in the rest of our activities, including announcements, introductions, second readings, and formal activities.
Once our business as a full Assembly is completed, we are recessed and leave to our committee meetings. The committee meetings are on-line and can be found in the Capital.
First Reading. This is the time when a bill is presented by the bill sponsor to the assigned committee. This is also the time when the public can comment on the bill. Another way of saying this is to come in and Witness or Testify to the committee. The meetings are broadcast on-line, live. Because this is the case, there is a formal way of communicating. The committee chairperson leads the discussion. The chairperson will ask the person, by name, to present the bill. The person will thank the chairperson and committee, and begin the bill presentation. The next stage is for committee members to ask questions, and the chairperson recognizes the committee member. The committee member thanks the chairperson and then says the presenter’s name. Needless to say, this goes on through the bill presentation. It allows the listeners to know who is speaking and what that person is saying. A bill can only go to the next stage (another committee or to the Committee of the Whole) with a majority vote of the committee having the bill’s first reading.
Second Reading. Now the bill has gone through all the committees and is in the committee of the whole. The Committee of the Whole is the House of Representatives assembled to further discuss the merits of the bill. After the members debate, the Speaker or Majority Leader, or similarly appointed person of the majority party, will call for a vote. It is a verbal vote. Sometimes someone will call out “Division” and then there is a formal count of votes on the bill. This doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. The public does not participate in the second reading phase.
Third Reading. A bill that has passed the second reading is now ready for the Third Reading. The debate is over and we are now assembled in the Formal House of Representatives. We will vote on the bill and it will be formally recorded in the record. A bill that passes will move on to the Senate to debate and vote upon. The Third Reading cannot take place on the same day as the Second Reading.