After vigorous debate last week, the House finally adopted its operating rules for the 2023-24 legislative session by a party-line vote of 102-100. Included in the rules are reforms that were suggested during former Speaker Mark Rozzi’s recent statewide listening tour and are supported by good government groups:
- The party split on committees will be narrower, 12 to 9 instead of 15 to 10 as in previous sessions.
- If 50 lawmakers, at least 25 from each party, sign a petition, they can force a vote on a bill in committee. Previously, only 25 members were necessary, with no requirement for bipartisanship; however, bills could be referred to other committees and advocates argued that other procedural maneuvers rendered the committee discharge process ineffective. The new rules are apparently intended to address these previous criticisms.
- Lawmakers can be reported to the House Ethics Committee for sexual harassment by anyone if the lawmaker is performing their official duties, on state House property, or at a state House-sponsored meeting or event. Previous rules only covered House lawmakers and staffers.
Further details on the rule changes can be found in this WITF story.
The sexual harassment change was the focus of much debate and media coverage throughout the week and was prompted by a lobbyist who has accused Democratic state Rep. Mike Zabel, D-Delaware, of sexual harassment at the Capitol. House Republicans have since called on Rep. Zabel to resign.