Staff favorites about state legislative committees

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Fun facts and finds about state legislative committees  

Our staff recently updated our extensive list of state legislative committee information and added current membership information for 2,083 committees. As you may expect, government structures vary widely among the states. For example, we added information for 14 committees in Nebraska and 87 committees in Mississippi.

We had a lot of fun (no, really) with this work. We wanted to share some of our staff’s favorite committee finds and fun facts with you. 

But first: What do these committees do? State legislative committees are groups of legislators set up with a specific policy or jurisdictional focus. After a bill is introduced in a chamber, it’s referred to the committee responsible for that policy area. Committees may hold private or public hearings to get feedback before approving, rejecting, or amending the bill. A committee must typically approve a bill before it gets a full chamber vote. There are committees for individual legislative chambers (such as state House and Senate) as well as joint legislative committees that include members from both chambers.

Membership

Of the 2,083 committees we found, 88% of them have 20 or fewer current members (48% have between one and 10 members, and 40% have between 11 and 20). The remaining 12% have more than 20 members.

We found five committees with 50 or more members. The two committees with the most members—the North Carolina House Appropriations Committee and the Georgia House Appropriations Committee—have more committee members than 15 states have total members in their House of Representatives. Four of the five largest committees are either ways and means or appropriations committees. These committees focus on budgets.

Committees on Committees

A favorite fun fact among our staff was the number of Committees on Committees we came across. Committee committees exist in the Kentucky House and Senate, Montana Senate, Pennsylvania House, and New Mexico Senate (and possibly other chambers).

According to the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s 2021 House Rules, its House Committee on Committee has the following jurisdiction:

The Committee on Committees shall have supervision and control over all employees of the House, whether elected by the House or provided by the Legislative Research Commission, and the Committee on Committees shall see that they perform all of their duties to the House and the members thereof. 

Find more information about your state legislature at the link below.

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Voters decided local ballot measures in four Texas cities on Saturday

Voters cast ballots in municipal and school board elections across Texas on Saturday. And as we noted yesterday, Susan Wright (R) and Jake Ellzey (R) advanced to a runoff from a 23-candidate field in the special election to fill the vacancy in Texas’ 6th Congressional District. The official date of that election has not yet been scheduled. In the meantime, let’s look back at some other results from Saturday.

Voters also decided local ballot measures, including 16 we tracked in Austin, Dallas, Lubbock, and San Antonio. Ten measures were approved and six were defeated. Here are the highlights from those results:

Austin:

  • Voters approved five of eight measures, including a sit-lie ordinance, changes to the city’s police oversight office, and ranked-choice voting. Four of those measures:
    • Proposition B prohibits and creates criminal penalties for sitting, lying down, sleeping outdoors, and soliciting money at certain times and in certain areas of the city. It was approved 58% to 42%.
    • Proposition C gives the city council authority to determine who appoints the Office of Police Oversight. Currently, the city manager appoints the director of the Office of Police Oversight. It was approved 63% to 37%.
    • Proposition D aligns the city’s mayoral elections with presidential election years instead of gubernatorial elections years. The change takes effect in 2024, meaning the mayor elected in 2022 would only serve a two-year term. It was approved 66% to 34%.
    • Proposition E establishes ranked-choice voting for city elections in the event that ranked-choice voting becomes allowed under Texas law. It was approved 58% to 42%.
  • Dallas
    • Voters defeated—65% to 35%—a city charter amendment that would have eliminated a requirement that members of city boards or commissions be registered voters.
  • Lubbock
    • Voters approved Proposition A by a vote of 62% to 38%. The measure amended city ordinances to ban abortions within the city and to declare Lubbock a Sanctuary City for the Unborn. Twenty-two other Texas cities and two in Nebraska have also banned abortions in city ordinance. Lubbock is the largest city (pop. 258,862 in 2019) and the only city with an active abortion clinic to do so.
  • San Antonio
    • Voters defeated a ballot measure that would have repealed local authority for collective bargaining with police officers to negotiate wages, healthcare, leave, and other policies.

To read more about these measures and others that voters decided on Saturday, click the link below.

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Applications now open for our Volunteer Fellows Program this summer

Do you know a high school or college student who loves politics? Maybe one who’s looking for volunteer experience? Applications are now open for the Summer 2021 class of our Ballotpedia Volunteer Fellows Program!

The Ballotpedia Fellows Program was formed in June 2020 to provide students who are interested in politics with a service opportunity working directly with our staff to gain subject matter expertise in political research and analysis. 

Ballotpedia Fellows work hand-in-hand with our staff as we expand our data-driven analysis of American politics. Our Summer program will be highly focused on data analysis with projects focused on increasing voter ballot information for 2021 elections.

If you’re interested, please submit your application by this Friday, May 7. Click here or follow the link below to find out more about the program and download an application. And if you have any questions, you can email the program’s director, Sara Horton, at Sara.Horton@Ballotpedia.org.
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About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.