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Majority Leader Lisa Brown says there will be no more “joint caucuses” in the Senate

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Jan. 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm with No Comments »
January 14, 2011 12:45 pm

One day after a Senate committee went behind closed doors for what was dubbed a “joint caucus,” Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said the practice would not reoccur.

The unusual caucus – really just a meeting of all committee members in private – was called by Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee Chairwoman Rosemary McAuliffe at the end of the regular meeting Thursday. McAuliffe said the topic would be bipartisanship and would happen each Thursday at the end of the regular meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown
“We talked about it in leadership and in caucus and we agreed that although her intent was positive … there could be a perception that public business was being done in private,” Brown said today.

“I don’t believe she has the intention of scheduling any more,” Brown said.

I raised the issue of these meetings in blog post Thursday afternoon. While Senate rules say meetings where bills and resolutions are discussed and voted upon must be in public, the Legislature always conducts more-general discussions and briefings in public as well.

Senators from both parties attended the closed joint caucus Thursday.

Unlike the House, the Senate rarely breaks into committee caucuses where members from each party go into separate and closed rooms to discuss bills and amendments.

Brown noted that the Legislature is not controlled by the state open public meetings act but has rules that require open committee meetings and floor sessions.

“I don’t believe it’s legally required to be a public process,” the Spokane Democrat said. “But debating and voting is better to be done in public.”

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