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132 Committees on resolutions-References to state officers.
passed the house, shall be referred to an appropriate select, or standing committee, to examine and report thereon, unless the house shall otherwise expressly allow.~ R. of A. 48.
COMMITTEES ON RESOLUTIONS.
In all resolutions of the assembly of much importance, requiring any committee relative to the subject matter, a committee of five is appointed. In all concurrent resolutions of the senate and assembly, concerning any matter to be considered by joint committee, the senate appoint three members on their part, and the assembly five of their house, to consider and report thereon. The report should be made to the house where the resolution originated.
REFERENCES TO STATE OFFICERS.
Petitions, memorials, and bills, are often referred to either the attorney general, surveyor general, comptroller, or secretary of state; sometimes to all those at the same time.
When their report is received, it is referred to a select committee, in all cases, together with the papers referred, to consider and report thereon.
COMMITTEE OF SELECTION.
This is a committee of five, and is appointed in pursuance of a resolution to that effect, first offered in these words:
"Resolved, That a committee be appointed for the purpose of selecting from the various bills now pending in this house, such as in their opinion ought first to be acted upon; to arrange the order in which the said bills should be taken up for consideration."
This committee usually reports three or four times per week. It is seldom appointed till toward the close of the meeting.
After a bill has been committed and reported it ought not, in an ordinary course, to be recommitted. But in cases of importance, and for special reasons, it is sometimes recommitted, and usually to the same committee. Hakew. 151. If a report be recommitted before agreed to in the house, what has passed in committee is of no validity; the whole question is again before the committee, and a new resolution must be again moved, as if nothing had passed. 3 Hats. 131. note.
In U. S. Senate, January 1800, the salvage bill was recommitted three times after the commitment.
A particular clause of a bill may be committed without the whole bill; 3 Hats. 131. or so much of a paper to one, and so much to another committee.
BILL, REPORT TAKEN UP.
When the report of a paper originating with a committee is taken up by the house, they proceed exactly as in committee. Here, as in committee, when the paragraphs have, on distinct questions, been agreed to seriatim, 5, Grey 366. 6 Grey 368. 8 Grey 47, 104, 360. 1 Torbuck's Deb. 125.3 Hats. 348. no question needs be put on the whole report. 5 Grey 381.
On taking up a bill reported with amendments, the M2
amendments only are read by the clerk. The speaker then reads the first, and puts it to the question, and so on, till the whole are adopted or rejected, before any other amendment be admitted, except it be an amendment to an amendment. Elsynge's Mem. 53. When through the amendments of the committee, the speaker of the house of representatives pauses, and gives time for amendments to be proposed in the house to the body of the bill: às he does also if it has been reported without amendments; putting no questions but on amendments proposed: and when through the whole, he puts the question whether the bill shall be engrossed and read a third time? Jefferson's Manual, 83.
BILLS, SECOND READING IN THE HOUSE.
In parliament, after the bill has been read a second time, if on the motion and question, it be not committed, or if no proposition for commitment be made, the speaker reads it by paragraphs, pausing between each, but putting no question but on amendments proposed; and when through the whole, he puts the question whether it shall be read a third time? if it came from the other house; or, if originating with themselves, whether it shall be engrossed and read a third time? The speaker reads sitting, but rises to put questions. The clerk stands while he reads.
But the senate of the United States is so much in the habit of making many and material amendments at the third reading, that it has become the practice not to engross a bill till it has passed. An irregular and dangerous practice; because, in this way, the paper which passes the senate is not that which goes to the other house as the act of the senate, has never been seen in senate. In reducing numerous, difficult, and illegible amendments into the text, the secretary may, with the most innocent intentions, commit errors, which can never again be corrected.
After the bill has been finally agreed to, it is ordered
to be engrossed. It is then prepared to be read the third time.
The bill being now as perfect as its friends can make it, this is the proper stage for those fundamentally opposed, to make their first attack. All attempts at earlier periods are with disjointed efforts; because many who do not expect to be in favor of the bill ultimately, are willing to let it go on to its perfect state, to take time to examine it themselves, and to hear what can be said for it; knowing that, after all, they will have sufficient opportunities of giving it their veto. Its two last stages therefore are reserved for this, that is to say, on the question whether it shall be read a third time? And lastly, whether it shall pass?—The first of these is usually the most interesting contest; because then the whole subject is new and engaging, and the minds of the members having not yet been declared by any trying vote, the issue is the more doubtful. In this stage, therefore, is the main trial of strength between its friends and opponents; and it behoves every one to make up his mind decisively for this question, or he loses the main battle; and accident and management may, and often do, prevent a successful rallying on the next and last question whether it shall pass?
When the bill is engrossed, the title is to be endorsed on the back, and not within the bill. Hakew. 250.
In the assembly it is also written within the bill, at top.
Where papers are laid before the house, or referred to a committee, every member has a right to have them once read at the table, before he can be compelled to vote on them. But it is a great, though common error, to suppose that he has a right, toties quoties, to have acts, journals, accounts, or papers on the table read independently of the will of the house. The delay and interruption which this might be made to produce, evince the impos
sibility of the existence of such a right. There is indeed so manifest a propriety of permitting every member to have as much information as possible on every question on which he is to vote, that when he desires the reading, if it be seen that it is really for information, and not for delay, the speaker directs it to be read without putting a question if no one objects. But if objected to, a question must be put. 2 Hats. 117, 118.
It is equally an error, to suppose that any member has a right, without a question put, to lay a book or paper on the table, and have it read, on suggesting that it contains matter infringing on the privileges of the house. Ib.
For the same reason, a member has not a right to read a paper in his place, if it be objected to, without leave of the house. But this rigour is never exercised, but where there is an intentional or gross abuse of the time and patience of the house.
A member has not a right even to read his own speech, committed to writing, without leave. This also is to prevent an abuse of time; and therefore is not refused, but where that is intended. 2 Grey 227.
A report of a committee of the U. S. Senate, on a bill from the house of representatives, being under consideration, on motion that the report of the committee of the house of representatives, on the same bill be read in senate, it passed in the negative; February 28, 1793.
Formerly when papers were referred to a committee, they used to be first read: but of late, only the titles; unless a member insists they shall be read, and then noboby can oppose it. 2 Hats. 117.
No motion shall be debated or put, unless the same be seconded; when a motion is seconded, it shall be stated by the Speaker before debate, and every such motion shall be reduced to writing if the speaker or any member desire it. R. of A. 9.