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Committee Rules
124rd Maine Legislature
Government Oversight Committee

Scope.  The rules of the Government Oversight Committee, the Joint Legislative Committee on Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, are set forth in this document.  These rules are adopted and must be interpreted within the context of the laws that prescribe the duties of the Committee, including Title 3, chapter 37 and all other applicable laws, and within the context of the Joint Rules of the Legislature.  Rules adopted by the Committee may not be inconsistent with the law and, pursuant to Title 3, section 994, subsection 10, may not be in conflict with the Joint Rules of the Legislature. 

1.  Chair Presides.  Pursuant to Joint Rule 302, the Senate chair shall preside and in the Senate chair’s absence, the House chair shall preside and, thereafter, as the need may arise, the chair shall alternate between the members from each chamber in the sequence of their appointment to the committee.

2.  Quorum.  Pursuant to Joint Rule 306 and Title 3, section 165, a quorum is 7 members, and a quorum must be present to start a meeting or at any time a vote is taken, other than on a motion to adjourn.  A quorum is not required to continue a meeting. 

3.  Attendance.  It is each committee member's responsibility to notify the Director of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, hereafter called the “Director”, whenever the member is unable to attend a public hearing or work session. The Director shall provide for recording the names of those members in attendance when the presiding chair announces that a quorum is present and when votes of the Committee are taken and shall record the names of members who are excused from a meeting.  The provisions of section 9 govern voting procedures for members absent at the time of a vote.

4.  Scheduling of Committee meetings.  Joint Rule 305 governs the scheduling and notice of all meetings of the Committee.

A.  The Senate chair, with the agreement of the House chair, and with the assistance of the Director shall schedule all meetings of the Committee.  If the chairs do not reach an agreement with respect to scheduling matters, the committee shall decide by majority vote of the membership.

B.  Public hearings must be advertised 2 weekends in advance of the hearing date. The Presiding Officers must approve all exceptions in advance.

C. The Director shall provide for updating and distributing a schedule of upcoming Committee meetings to all committee members at least once a month, or immediately upon any change to a previously distributed meeting schedule, and shall make that schedule available to the public either by written notice or through the use of a publicly accessible site on the Internet. 

D. The committee shall provide reasonable access for persons with disabilities at its meetings and allow adequate time for participation by persons with disabilities.

5.  Questions of order.  Pursuant to Joint Rule 304, the presiding chair shall decide all questions of order, subject to appeal to the committee.  The chair’s ruling stands unless overruled by a majority of the committee membership.

6.  Smoking and eating restrictions.

A.  Pursuant to 22 MRSA, section 1542, smoking is prohibited in all committee rooms. Smoking is also prohibited in committee offices and at the entrances to the Cross State Office Building.  Legislative Council policy also prohibits smoking in the State House, including the third floor balcony and within 20 feet of the building.

B.  Members of the public may not consume food or beverages in the committee room.

C.  Committee members may not consume food or beverages in the committee room except as provided below:

(1) Committee members may consume beverages during public hearings and work sessions;
(2) Committee members may consume food and beverages at the leave of the co-chairs only when a work session extends beyond 6:00 p.m.; and
(3) Food and beverages are permitted in Room 228 and Room 334 at other times by permission of the co-chairs or the chair of the Legislative Council.

D.  When meeting in a committee room other than its own, the Committee shall comply with the rules applicable to that room regarding consumption of food and beverages.

7.  Procedures for public hearings.  The purpose of public hearings is to receive reports from the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, solicit input from the public on a final report received by the Committee, question public officials about office findings and recommendations or to solicit input from the public on legislation proposed by the Committee to address the findings or recommendations of a report from the office.  Except by vote of a majority of the Committee, the Committee may not hold a public hearing to solicit public input on a final report until at least 15 days after that final report is received by the Committee and distributed to the public as provided by Title 3, section 994, subsection 4 and section 997, subsection 2.  Joint Rule 304 governs the public hearing process.

A.  At the time of a scheduled public hearing, the chairs shall make a decision about the order of testimony based on the number of people who wish to testify.  If this number is relatively large, the order of testimony will alternate between those testifying for the report or the legislation, those testifying against such items and those testifying neither for nor against such items.  If this number is relatively small, all those testifying in favor of such items shall speak first, all those testifying against such items shall speak second, and all those testifying neither for nor against such items shall speak third.

B. Each person testifying shall announce his or her name, residence and affiliation prior to testifying.  The person also shall either fill in the sign-in sheet or otherwise provide identifying information to the Director to be placed in the committee files.

C.  Legislators and persons in the audience must be addressed by their title.

D.  Pursuant to Joint Rule 307, all written materials presented to the committee must bear the name, address and affiliation, if applicable, of the presenter and the date presented.  Persons submitting written materials shall provide the Director with at least 15 copies of the material.

E.  All questions must be addressed through the chair.  Pursuant to Joint Rule 304, at public hearings, the chair may limit testimony as necessary for the orderly conduct of the hearing.
F.  Committee members may question witnesses to clarify testimony and to elicit helpful and pertinent information.  While probing questions may sometimes be appropriate, members shall show respect at all times for the witnesses and for one another.  Members shall refrain from questioning that is argumentative, oppressive, repetitive or unnecessarily embarrassing to hearing participants.  Advocacy and  discussion among members are not appropriate at public hearings.

G.  Committee members and members of the public shall refrain from making or receiving phone calls during public hearings, and from using pagers during public hearings unless the pagers are placed in a non-audible mode.

8.  Procedures for work sessions.  The purpose of a work session is to provide an opportunity for the committee members to deliberate on reports and other matters pending before the committee.

A.  All questions must be addressed through the chair.

B.  Because work sessions are primarily for deliberation on reports and discussions with the Director, members of the audience may not participate except at the invitation of the chair.

9.  Voting

A. A quorum must be present for votes to be taken.

B. Votes may not be taken after 10:30 p.m. or before 7:30 a.m. unless first authorized by the Presiding Officers.

C. A member may abstain from voting only if the member has a conflict of interest as described in Joint Rule 104.

D. The Director shall provide for recording all votes of the Committee.  Votes taken will be recorded on a Voting Tally Sheet which will serve as the record of the majority and minority “report”.  The results will be summarized in the applicable Meeting Summary and the Voting Tally Sheet, along with pertinent written materials, will be maintained in Committee files in the OPEGA Office. 

E. If all members are not present for votes taken in regards to paragraphs G, H and I of this section, those members who are absent may register their vote with the Director until the following periods have expired:

    (1) If any member is absent from the State House and the Cross Building at the time of the vote, that member’s vote may be registered with the Director up until noon on the 2nd business day following the vote; or
    (2) If any member is absent from the committee at the time of the vote but present in the State House or the Cross Building, that member’s vote may be registered with the Director up until 5:00 p.m. on the day of the vote.

F. For those instances when absentee votes will be accepted, the Committee Clerk will make reasonable efforts to notify absent members of motions made that they can still vote on.  These efforts will include an email and telephone call to the member’s home.   Absentee voting shall be done in person with the Committee Clerk and the voting member will be required to initial the Voting Tally Sheet.  If circumstances do not permit a member to vote in person, the member may vote by phone, fax or email with permission by the Presiding Officer.  Members casting absentee votes by phone will be required make arrangements to initial the Voting Tally Sheet.  Any written materials pertinent to a vote will be provided to absentee members before they register their vote.  Once the period for absentee voting has passed, the Committee Clerk will notify all members, by email, of the final vote results.

G. The Committee shall vote to authorize OPEGA to begin or schedule specific reviews.  This includes votes to approve the Annual Work Plan, make changes to the “approved” Work Plan or to initiate Rapid Response reviews.  Such motions must pass by a majority of those voting, with the exception that motions to begin Rapid Response reviews must pass by 2/3 of those voting.

H. The Committee may, at its discretion, vote on a final report of the office that has been received by the Committee in accordance with Title 3, chapter 37.  The Committee may vote to:

(1) Endorse the report;
(2) Endorse the report in part; or
(3) Release the report without endorsement.

I. The Committee may, at its discretion, vote to introduce legislation to address the
findings or recommendations of a final report of the Office that has been received by the Committee.  That legislation may be introduced only upon receiving the affirmative support of 7 members of the Committee.  Legislation introduced by the Committee shall be reported to the Legislature pursuant to the Committee’s authority under Title 3, section 997, subsection 2.  If the vote on legislation introduced under this paragraph is not unanimous, the jacket for that legislation must include the signatures of those members who voted in support of that legislation and those members who voted against that legislation. 

J. I lf the vote is not unanimous, more than one report is required.  Majority and
minority reports must be voted on in a work session in accordance with the Joint Rules.

K. The Director shall provide for preparing the committee jacket or jackets following a vote on reports and bills and obtain signatures from committee members as required. 

L. All reports and bills resulting from votes of the Committee must be submitted to the Legislature at the same time and within applicable reporting deadlines established by the Presiding Officers.

10. Subcommittees.  Membership of any subcommittees appointed by the Committee shall be bipartisan in nature.

11. Participation in the Budget Process.  The committee shall appoint a subcommittee of at least 3 and not more than 5 of its members, an equal number being from each body and each of the 2 major parties, to serve as liaisons to the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs in the consideration of the Governor’s budget bills.  Joint Rule 314 governs committee participation in development of budget legislation

 12. Use of the Committee Room.  The Director shall ensure that meeting rooms are reserved as necessary for the Committee in consultation with the Executive Director of the Legislative Council.  Committee chairs and other committee members shall  coordinate the use of the committee room with the Director.

13. Confidentiality.  The committee shall protect confidential records in accordance with procedures set forth in Joint Rule 313 and freedom of access laws, the Maine  Revised Statutes, Title 1, chapter 13, subchapter I, and Title 3, chapter 37.

14. Executive Sessions.  The procedures and limitations governing executive sessions of the Committee are governed by Title 1, section 405.

15. Administration of oaths.  The administration of oaths to witnesses appearing before the Committee is governed by Title 3, section 994, subsection 6.

16. Issuance of subpoenas.  The issuance of subpoenas by the Committee are
governed by Title 3, section 994, subsection 8, Title 3, section 165 and Title 3, chapter 21.

17. Roles and responsibilities.  The roles and responsibilities of the Committee in relation to those of Office Program Evaluation and Government Accountability shall be clearly defined, documented and adopted by a majority vote of the Committee.

Adopted by the Government Oversight Committee on:

Date:   January 29, 2007

Senate Chair: /s/ Elizabeth H. Mitchell  

House Chair: /s/ Marilyn E. Canavan

A copy of the adopted Committee Rules of Procedure must be posted in the committee room and be available for public review.