Lege 101: What is a Committee?

Today we’re going to walk through the different types of committees and what they do. During this session, we’ll deal mostly with appropriations committees, subcommittees, and standing committees.

Appropriations Committees oversee the expenditure of money by the State government. There are eight appropriation subcommittees that prioritize money for specific areas in state government. The number of members on each committee and the partisan makeup is dependent on the Speaker of the House.

1. Business, Economic Development, and Labor
2. Executive Offices and Criminal Justice
3. Higher Education
4. Infrastructure and General Government
5. Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality 
6. Public Education
7. Retirement and Independent Entities
8. Social Services

An  example would be the Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee will recommending to the Executive Appropriations committee priority items within the state’s university system, according to reports and testimonies heard in committee.

The Executive Appropriations committee makes the final decisions regarding the appropriation of state funds. It is made up of leadership of both parties and both houses of the Legislature.

Standing Committees are permanent legislative panels established by the Utah House of Representatives rules. They consider bills and issues and recommend policy for consideration by the House. Because the committees are permanent, they exist beyond the adjournment of each legislative session.

This session there are fifteen House standing committees:

1. Business and Labor
2. Economic Development and Workforce Services
3. Education
4. Ethics
5. Government Operations
6. Health and Human Services
7. Judiciary
8. Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
9. Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment
10. Political Subdivisions
11. Public Utilities and Technology
12. Retirement and Independent Entities
13. Revenue and Taxation
14. Rules
15. Transportation

After the 54-day general session, the Speaker of the House appoints members to Interim Committees. Interim Committees are committees authorized by the House and Senate to study a particular subject or subjects between sessions.

Task Forces are occasionally created by the Legislature during the general session to explore a specific topic during the interim session. There are currently three task forces dealing with issues related to Economic Development, Health Care and Veterans.

Now  you know when, where, and why committees meet, but how do you participate?

The public is invited to attend and participate in committee meetings. The schedule and agendas for these meetings are available on the homepage of the Utah State Legislature website: le.utah.gov. Click on the committee meeting you’re interested in, and it will take you to a page that includes the date, time, and room number of the meeting, as well as a PDF of the agenda, and a link to the audio or video feed of the meeting.

If there’s a particular bill you are interested in and would like to speak to, after the legislator has presented his or her bill the meeting will be opened to public comment. Just indicate that you would like to speak to the bill and the committee chair will call you to the mic.

If you have any questions regarding committees, post them in the comments!