Section 5 | Steering Committee
Once approved by a full committee, policy directives and resolutions are considered by the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee, is an integral part of the policy process.
The Co-Chairs of the Standing Committees often invites one of the overall vice chairs to preside at Steering Committee meetings. If a legislator committee co-chair is unable to attend, he or she designates one of the legislator committee vice chairs to represent the committee at the Steering Committee meeting.
The NCSL Rules delineate the powers of the Steering Committee. It
Reviews pending policy directives and resolutions for inconsistencies and omissions to Rule VII(D);
Establishes the order of business and calendars for business meetings;
Makes joint and re-referrals of policy directives and resolutions;
Identifies emerging state and federal issues;
Encourages the use of innovative technologies and communications devices for conducting meetings, increasing participation and informing legislators and staff about the work of the standing committees.
(1) Reviewing Pending Policy Directives and Resolutions for Inconsistencies and Omissions
After the committees have met at the Legislative Forum and Legislative Summit, the Steering Committee meets to review each policy directive and resolution approved by the committees. The presiding Co-Chairs of the Standing Committees calls upon a co-chair form each committee to report on his or her committee's actions. Other Steering Committee members have the opportunity to question the committee chair about the policy directive or resolutions--especially inquiring about the need for the policy directive or resolution, how it relates to other current or proposed policy directives and resolutions, and whether it is consistent with NCSL rules concerning the purpose of policy directives and resolutions (see Section IX below).
(2) Establishing the Order of Business
In reporting to the Steering Committee about disposition of policy directives and resolutions, committee chairs tell whether the committee recommends the policy directive or resolution be placed on the consent, debate or memorial calendar. The Rules require that policy directives and resolutions be placed on the debate calendar if they are not passed unanimously by the committee.
The Rules also state that policy directives and resolutions may be placed on the debate calendar by majority vote of the Steering Committee.
(3) Joint and Re-referral of Resolutions
The Rules of Procedure allow the Steering Committee to make joint and re-referral of policy directives and resolutions that fall into the jurisdiction of more than one committee. At the first meeting of the Steering Committee at the Legislative Forum and the Legislative Summit, the Steering Committee hears reports from each committee about the policy directives and resolutions it expects the committee to take up. Other chairs have the opportunity to inquire about the policy directives and resolutions and whether they fall into another committee's jurisdiction. Policy directives and resolutions, then, are jointly referred either by consensus or majority vote. (This process works most smoothly when committee chairs consult with one another before the Steering Committee meeting.) The Steering Committee designates one committee as the lead committee on jointly-referred policy directives and resolutions. The lead committee's version of the policy directive or resolution is considered first on the floor of the business meetings. Other committees offer their versions as amendments from the floor. Although the rules do not preclude joint referrals to more than two committees, past Steering Committees have limited joint referrals to just two committees.
At the second Steering Committee meeting, which occurs immediately following the conclusion of the standing committee meetings, the Steering Committee hears reports from each chair on actions the committees have taken. During these reports, it is appropriate for other chairs to ask for re-referral of policy directives and resolutions adopted by another committee. A successful re-referral motion has the effect of delaying action on the policy directive or resolution until the next meeting of the standing committees.
(4) Emerging Federal Priorities and Major State Issues
At the start of each biennium, the Executive Committee establishes the state federal priorities and major state issues with input from each of the standing committees. These state federal priorities and major state issues serve to guide the conferences' representation before the federal government, activities in standing committees, meeting programming and grant funded research.
Federal issues have some predictability for several reasons. Congress usually establishes an expiration date for most major laws; so an issue due for “reauthorization” often dominates an NCSL committee’s agenda in the year leading up to the law’s expiration. Plus, presidential and congressional leadership initiatives, which usually are known at the beginning of the calendar year, also help shape discussions within our committees.
(5) Using Innovative Technologies
The Executive Committee has recommended that the Steering Committee explore innovative technologies and communications devices to ensure the greatest possible participation among committee members, including ones who are unable to attend meetings.