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House settles on its permanent rules for biennium

By Chris Steller
Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, right, listens as Rep. Tina Liebling discusses one of her amendments to the Permanent House Rules during debate on the House Floor Feb. 16. Photo by Paul Battaglia

The House adopted its permanent rules for the 90th Session Thursday by a vote of 105-14.

The Permanent House Rules guide how bills move, how debate proceeds, and how the House handles ethical and other issues. The House adopts permanent rules each biennium.

The rules for the 2017-18 biennium include four changes from the previous session:

  • “a motion that the House concur in Senate amendments to a House File is not in order until 12 hours after the Speaker announces that a message from the Senate has been received requesting concurrence by the House to amendments adopted by the Senate to a House File;”
  • a pre-filing requirement now applies to the adoption of rules or joint rules;
  • the names of the committees listed reflect new committee names; and
  • the names of omnibus bills now correspond to new committee names.

DFL members offered more than a dozen amendments, all of which failed or were withdrawn. They covered topics from banning the presiding officer from using a cell phone to committees and the body as a whole not meeting after midnight. Members spent the most time debating amendments that would have banned certain gifts and prohibited use of the mute button on the presiding officer’s rostrum.

In 2013, debate over a new rule requiring amendments to be filed 24 hours before action by the full House lasted more than nine hours. Two years ago, the new Republican majority maintained the pre-file requirement. A related amendment, unsuccessfully offered by Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), would have banned pre-filing requirements by committees.

Debate on House Rules Thursday lasted more than four hours. “The reason we’re having a long debate tonight is because rules matter,” said Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan). 

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