Legislature to consider switching back to five-person committees

Montgomery County legislators may return to their original system of five-person committees. Legislators discussed proposed changes to their rules of procedure during Tuesday’s meeting of the Education and Government Committee.

When the county changed from a 15-member board of supervisors to a nine-member legislature two years ago, committees were comprised of five members. The rules of procedure were changed in 2015 to allow for three-person committees.

Over the next several months, legislators have discussed several alternatives such as doing away with multiple committees in favor of  a “committee of the whole” and having individual legislators act as liaisons to the various areas of government. That idea was included in the proposed rules of procedure under discussion Tuesday.

However, District 6 Legislator John Duchessi, chairman of the committee, said he did not sense there was a lot of support for switching to the committee of the whole system.

“I’m willing to get off the committee of the whole [proposal] and talk about numbers [of legislators on a committee],” he said. “Three people can act as gatekeepers. I’d never vote for three, but you can talk me into five.”

District 2 Legislator Thomas Quackenbush said he was in favor of the committee system but acknowledged that it needed to be tweaked, especially when it comes to sponsoring resolutions.

“I like committees, but I can’t wrap my arms around the way we do it now,” he said. “If you’re going to have the committee structure, somebody in these five [committee members] should sponsor the resolution.”

The two members of the committee who were present, Duchessi and District 1 Legislator Martin Kelly, voted to send a resolution that would switch the rules back to a allow five-person committees to the full legislature for a vote. District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz, the third member of the committee, was not present.


John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.