Roles and Responsibilities of Selected Leadership Positions

The roles and responsibilities of legislative leaders vary considerably among the states. Listed below are brief synopses of the duties typically associated with selected leadership positions.

 

 

President of the Senate

Majority Leader

Minority Leader

President pro tem of the Senate

Majority Caucus Chair

Minority Caucus Chair

Speaker of the House or Assembly

Majority Whip

Minority Whip

Speaker pro tem

 

 

President of the Senate. The president is the principal leader of the Senate. The president typically will (1) preside over the daily sessions of the Senate, (2) preserve order in the chamber, (3) state parliamentary motions, (4) rule on parliamentary questions, (4) appoint committee chairs and members, (5) refer bills to committee, (6) sign legislation, writs and warrants and (7) act as the official spokesman for the Senate. In about 26 states, the lieutenant governor serves as the president of the Senate, and many of these duties are assumed by the president pro tem.

President pro tem of the Senate. The primary roles assigned to the president pro tem are to (1) preside over the Senate in the president's absence, (2) exercise the powers and duties of the president in his or her absence and (3) assume other duties as assigned by the president. Sometimes, this is an honorary position, with few substantive duties assigned. In states where the lieutenant governor presides over the Senate, the president pro tem usually assumes duties associated with a president.

Speaker of the House or Assembly. The speaker is the principal leader of the House or Assembly. The speaker typically will (1) preside over the daily sessions of the House or Assembly, (2) preserve order in the chamber, (3) state parliamentary motions, (4) rule on parliamentary questions, (4) appoint committee chairs and members, (5) refer bills to committee, (6) sign legislation, writs and warrants and (7) act as the official spokesman for the House or Assembly.

Speaker pro tem. The primary roles assigned to the speaker pro tem are to (1) preside over the House in the speaker's absence, (2) exercise the powers and duties of the speaker in his or her absence and (3) assume other duties as assigned by the speaker. In some states, this is an honorary position, with few substantive duties assigned.

Majority Leader. The primary functions of a majority leader usually relate to floor duties. The majority leader (1) is the lead speaker for the majority party during floor debates, (2) develops the calendar and (3) assists the president or speaker with program development, policy formation and policy decisions.

Majority Caucus Chair. The majority caucus chair generally (1) develops the majority caucus agenda with the principal leaders, (2) presides over the majority caucus meetings and (3) assists with the development of policy.

Majority Whip. The duties of the majority whip are to (1) assist the floor leader, (2) ensure member attendance, (3) count votes and (4) generally communicate the majority position.

Minority Leader. The minority leader is the principal leader of the minority caucus. The minority leader is responsible for (1) developing the minority position, (2) negotiating with the majority party, (3) directing minority caucus activities on the chamber floor and (4) leading debate for the minority.

Minority Caucus Chair. The minority caucus chair (1) presides over caucus meetings and (2) assists the minority leader with policy development.

Minority Whip. The major responsibilities for the minority whip are to (1) assist the minority leader on the floor, (2) count votes and (3) ensure attendance of minority party members.

 


 

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File updated 1/20/2005