An amendment is defined by the Office of Legislative Counsel as an alteration to a bill, motion, resolution or clause by adding, changing, substituting or omitting language. Now, in order to adopt an amendment to any pending measure, that amendment must be submitted to Legislative Counsel for drafting. Essentially, there are three ways to make amendments to measures. They are: author’s amendments, committee amendments, and floor amendments.
Upon request of the author of any measure, the Chairperson of the committee to which the measure – again, a bill, a resolution or a constitutional amendment – has been referred, may report to the full house, that is the Assembly or the Senate, with a recommendation that amendments that are submitted by the author should be adopted and the measure be reprinted as amended and then re-referred to that committee. There are several instances where an author may make author’s amendments before a committee hearing or at a committee hearing or on the floor.
The committee amendments are those proposed by the committee or a committee member at a committee hearing. These amendments are adopted by a roll call vote of the committee and they may or may not be hostile to the author, meaning whether or not the author agrees with those amendments. Now, committee amendments to bills are considered upon the second reading of the bill. The amendments are actually adopted by a majority vote of members present and voting. For example, to pass a bill out of a seven-member committee requires a majority, or four members of that seven-member committee, to vote in favor of the bill. On committee amendments, however, it’s a majority of those present and voting. Perhaps two of the seven members were absent that day or they were at another hearing, either hearing bills, or presenting bills in another committee, meaning that there were five of the seven members at the committee hearing. If the committee amendments are adopted, they may be done so by three votes, because three is a majority of those members present and voting, a total of five.
Amendments to a measure offered from the floor, except for committee amendments reported with them, those amendments are offered with a motion to amend. Those amendments can delete words, or they can add words, or they can substitute the content of the bills. However, note that amendments previously printed in the daily journal are not in order unless a copy of the proposed amendments have been placed upon the desk of the members on the floor.
Hostile amendments can be made in either a committee hearing or on the floor. Amendments that are proposed by another member in committee or on the floor that are not supported by the bill’s author are considered to be hostile amendments. In addition, there are gut-and-amends. In this case amendments to a measure remove the current contents of the bill in its entirety and the bill’s contents are replaced with different provisions entirely. This type of amendment does raise germaneness questions, which refers to whether the proposed amendment is relevant to the subject matter that’s currently contained in the measure.
You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.