Letter from Rep. Danou: Details for next legislative session coming togetherI was recently asked what happens in the Capitol leading up to the next legislative session.
By: Rep. Chris Danou , Pierce County Herald
I was recently asked what happens in the Capitol leading up to the next legislative session. Although we are not yet in session there is still plenty of activity taking place in and around the Capitol.
The past few weeks have brought more visitors into the Capitol Rotunda to see the holiday tree and tours are going on as usual with many school groups, tourists and other interested people walking around our majestic building. I encourage all school groups to contact my office before coming to the Capitol so my office can arrange a professional photograph of the group. I also welcome any constituent who visits the Capitol to stop in the office to say ‘hello’ and visit.
On the legislative side of day-to-day business in the Capitol, legislators are gearing up for the 2013-2014 session with the inauguration ceremony for all members of the Wisconsin State Assembly set for January 7, 2013. In the meantime legislators are meeting with one another to discuss legislative priorities and goals for the upcoming session. Also taking place are office allocations and committee assignments.
The majority party gets first pick when it comes to choosing an office and then members of the minority party make their selection from the remaining offices based on seniority. Since my election to the State Assembly and the last two legislative terms, my office has been located on the third floor of the west wing in Room 303 West of the State Capitol. It has been a great office to work in and I’ve enjoyed the many meetings and visits I’ve had with constituents. With the departure of more senior members from my side of the aisle, my staff and I will be relocating to the first floor of the north wing to Room 107 North. I expect the move to take place sometime this week or early next week so we have time to get settled before session begins.
A new session also brings new committee names and assignments that are determined by the majority party. The majority party not only creates and names the individual committee but also obtains a numerical advantage for their party. Since Republicans have the majority this upcoming session, there will be more Republican legislators on all committees, including the position of chair and co-chair of the committee. Once the chair and co-chair of the committee is determined by the Speaker, the Minority Leader decides what members from the minority party will sit on the committees.
Chairs, co-chairs and legislators are selected to sit on committees based on their professional background experience and knowledge, interest in certain issues or a particular skill set and perspective they bring to the table. The goal is to have people to use their skills and expertise towards any legislation brought before the committee. For example, since I represent a very rural part of the state and have familiarity with agricultural issues, I was appointed to the Committee on Agriculture last session. I also sat on the Homeland Security and State Affairs Committee because of my background knowledge and experience as a former police officer.
The committee chair and co-chair appointments were made by the Speaker last week and appointments of other committee members from both parties will happen very soon. I’ll be sure to provide an update when I know what committees I’ll have the privilege to sit on next session. As always, I look forward to my committee assignments and working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make responsible legislation that helps move Wisconsin forward.