Thursday April 2, 2015, the House passed its permanent rules by a near unanimous vote. The permanent rules, vetted by both Republicans and Democrats, are some of the most empowering and transparent rules ever enacted by North Carolina legislators.
House Rules Chairman David R. Lewis said, “the temporary rules provided a good framework on which to operate for the time being, while the majority and minority party can work on improvements to these rules.”
Several changes were made to the rules:
- House members may now introduce 15 public bills, increased from 10 bills.
- Proposed Committee Substitutes are to be sent out to members by 9pm the day before a committee convenes to improve transparency and participation.
- Pregnancy and military service are now recognized as excused absences from voting.
- Changes were made to floor conduct to allow for 21st century communication with constituents and staff.
- Clarifying changes were made to parliamentary procedures to increase the transparency of committee debate.
- In an attempt to be more transparent, House members may now remove their sponsorship of a bill substantially changed by a Senate amendment or a Senate committee substitute.
House rules are not always passed in a near unanimous manner. For decades, the House rules have been used as a procedural road block to minority inclusion in debate.
“I believe that both sides in the House see the benefit of added transparency in House procedure after decades of partisan divide. You are seeing a good faith effort on behalf of the majority to increase democratic procedure and republican governance. I am glad that we have passed these rules with broad bi-partisan support and look forward to the work ahead of us this session,” said Chairman Lewis.