House begins public posting of committee ‘pre-meeting’ list

On orders from House Speaker Beth Harwell, a list of House committee “pre-meetings” is now being posted on the legislature’s website under the heading “Committee Bill Review.”

The initial listing was posted on Friday, reports The Tennessean, which had earlier asked Harwell for a list of the gatherings, held prior to scheduled public committee meetings with pending bills discussed – lobbyists are typically invited to make presentations – but no votes taken.

Defenders of pre-meetings, which are held in legislative conference rooms, say they allow lawmakers and stakeholders to prepare for a bill when it appears in committee. Opponents blast the gatherings, saying they lack transparency.

“We’ve been trying to find the best way to do this,” said Kara Owen, a spokeswoman for the speaker.

Owen said the list of pre-meetings would be updated each week and would be maintained on the House section of the legislature’s website.

Note: The list can be found on the legislative website by first clicking on ‘Committees,’ then “House.” On the right side of that page, there’s a list of “House links.” Select “Committee Bill Review” on that list. Doing that will get you HERE for the first posting (pdf).

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