In an organization, committees are groups of people who work on a project or task for the whole body. For example, a conference organizer may form a committee to review options and make recommendations on the best way to host an event. Committees are often created for specific purposes, such as a committee to investigate allegations of fraud or a search and rescue committee in the aftermath of a natural disaster. In legislatures, committees are formed to examine the implications of a bill or resolution or to recommend actions to the full body.

A committee can have a chairman, whose duties include running meetings, keeping discussions on topic, recognizing members to speak, and conducting votes. Many committees use the informal rules of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), but larger committees dealing with critical issues may follow more formal procedures.

As part of their deliberation, committees typically hold public hearings where witnesses are called to testify about the measure being considered. A published transcript of all testimony is usually available at the hearing or shortly afterwards. The date, place and subject of hearings are usually publicized in advance, often with a notice in the Daily Digest section of the Congressional Record. The House also makes audio and video recordings of all committee hearings available online.

At the end of committee deliberation, a vote is taken to determine what action to take on the measure. The committee may choose to report the bill with or without amendment, table the bill, or refer it to another committee. If the committee approves extensive amendments to a bill, they are drawn into a new document called a “committee engrossment,” which replaces the original bill with the amended version. The committee engrossment will be shown on Minnesota Legislation and Bill Status under Committee Hearings and Actions.

Once a bill has passed through a committee, it is known as a “committee-approved” bill or a “clean bill.” It will then be moved forward for consideration by the full body of the House. The bill is then given a number in the Congressional Record and may be found on the House Calendar. If the bill is referred to another committee, that is also shown on the House Calendar. For additional information on bills and their consideration by committee, see How Our Laws Are Made. Stay up to date on the latest committee news by signing up for Committee Alerts.