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Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature

Must every bill receive a committee hearing?

According to pages 11-12 of Making Laws: Committee Proceedings from the Minnesota House Research Department:

"A committee is not required to consider, still less to report, every bill referred to it. Many bills proceed no further than introduction and referral to a committee; they are never heard of again. Others emerge from one committee only to founder in another.

A committee hearing on a referred bill is not automatic. The author must ask for one. Some bills do not get a hearing because the author decides not to request one or push strongly for one.

An author is not entitled to a hearing on request. The committee chair decides and may refuse. Some chairs find this easier than others, but almost every chair, however amiable, denies some bills a hearing. A chair may refuse for simple lack of time; the limited session period does not permit a hearing on every introduced bill, and a chair may consider one bill more important than another. A chair may decide that a bill is not ripe for legislative decision for some reason — a pending federal action, a court case, a forthcoming government report on the subject. A chair simply may oppose a bill on its merits or conclude that a majority of the members of the committee are opposed, making a hearing pointless."

More details are available in Making Laws, House Research Department.