Rules and Procedures cleanup

The Education and Governance Committee met this morning for a briefing on changes to the City Council’s Rules and Procedures for 2016. Agenda

Meeting details

Every two years the City Council makes revisions to its Rules and Procedures — the formal rules that the Council must follow in conducting its business.  The City Clerk and the City Attorney are deeply involved in drafting any changes.

A summary of their proposed changes is here, and the new draft of the complete Rules is here.  They rearranged the document to make it easier to find things, and clarified a number of specific procedures. There are no dramatic substantive changes being proposed.

There was some discussion of the elimination of “divided reports” to the full Council when a committee does not vote unanimously. One of the peculiarities of the City Council’s process is that the committees are open to attendance and voting of all council members beyond the official committee members, so voting within a committee is a bit strange. Currently items that get defeated in committee still come before the full Council; there was some talk of changing that, but to do so in a sane way would also mean revisiting the “open attendance” model for committees (and the meaning of quorum in committees) so it was dropped.

They also are proposing to update the budget committee process to clarify how the budget package is presented to the Council by the budget committee chair, requiring a balanced budget package to be presented and that the budget committee chair formally notify all council members of any changes to the package.

They propose to eliminate the Town Hall Committee, since it has been obsoleted by other ways that the council members reach out to the community (and because the new district format further complicates this).

Another proposal is to require that all amendments to be presented in the Monday afternoon full Council meeting must be circulated to all Council members at least two hours before the meeting. Council member Bagshaw suggested that two hours is not enough, particularly since Council members often have lunch meetings on Mondays. This led to a good discussion that it’s probably not something you would want to make a hard-and-fast rule on so that minor items can be moved through quickly, but the council members should discuss it further and come up with informal rules to manage the situation so they have enough time to review amendments before the full Council meets. (committee chair Burgess joked that Bagshaw could simply ask him and Council member Gonzalez, the other Council member in attendance this morning, how to vote when she didn’t have enough time to review an amendment in advance — that got a laugh all around)

The updated Rules and Procedures are expected to be voted out of committee on December 10, and come up for vote in the December 14th full Council meeting.