Reform is needed to turn legislative committees into bodies where policy and legislation are discussed and to protect committee decisions, otherwise they become places for lawmakers to showcase their ideas, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said on Thursday.
Tuan said at a Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee meeting that it is supposed to review details of legislative and budget proposals on behalf of the general assembly, while general assembly meetings are for lawmakers to express their policy ideas.
However, in the current system, lawmakers can question officials at general assembly and committee meetings, making questioning — instead of reviewing bills and budgets — the focus of lawmakers’ work.
Tuan said that one big problem with the system is that committee members spend time and effort to review bills and make decisions, but caucus leaders can easily overturn committee decisions in cross-caucus negotiations, while most people who take part in such negotiations are usually not members of the committee associated with the talks.
“This does not make any sense,” Tuan said.
“Why should lawmakers spend so much effort to discuss bills in a committee?” he asked.
A committee-centered system that grants a certain degree of protection to the decisions made by committees needs to be implemented so that the decisions would not be overturned in cross-caucus negotiations, Tuan said.
Tuan said there is a one-month time limit for caucuses to reach an agreement and if no agreement is reached, a bill would either go to a vote, while at times, a minority party might occupy the committee chairperson’s seat to prevent it from being passed.
He said the negotiation mechanism only protects the majority party and is unfavorable toward opposition parties, adding that the DPP suffered under the system while in opposition.
Now that the DPP has a majority in the legislature, the party should take steps to reform the system, he said.
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