UPDATE: The Election Committee's meeting was cancelled early this morning.

Yesterday we talked about a specific type of committee, the conference committee. Today, we will be taking a more general look at NCGA standing committees and what they do. Why does this matter? You may have seen news reports about a gun control bill proposed by Rep. Marcia Morey, which was sent to "where bills die", or in this case, the Rules Committee. You may also have heard talk about the Election Committee meeting, due to be held today, in which the state's controversial, and ultimately illegal, attempt to require photo identification at the polls may be resurrected.

So what do standing committees do and how can we influence them? Most members of the NCGA are members of multiple committees, and typically they will have some kind of experience or interest in the field that the committee considers. A committee is typically the first place in which a bill will be considered. When a bill is introduced, it is sent to the most relevant committee. This committee then deliberates over whether to approve the bill, and if so, the bill will be placed on the calendar to be considered by the house or senate. The partisan composition of a committee reflects the composition of the relevant chamber of the NCGA.

This means that committee members can have a large degree of power over which bills come to the floor. Sometimes there may be political reasons why our politicians may prefer not to record a vote (for example in the case of the recent gun bill) and in which case, a committee can choose not to send a bill to the floor and legislators will not be required to vote on it.

Want to be able to influence this stage of our legislative process? It is easy to find out who sits on which committees on the NCGA website. If you have a strong opinion over the Voter ID requirements, you can call members of the House Elections Committee before their meeting at 9am today to tell them what you think. You don't have to be represented by a member of the committee to make your voice heard, so feel free to call away and express your opinion.

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