What is a Standing Committee? (Overview, Roles, and Responsibilities)

  • By: Josh Palmer
  • May 24, 2023
Standing Committee
Reading Time: 4 minutes

A standing committee is a permanent legislative committee that establishes various policies and provides legislative oversight. Take an in-depth look at its other responsibilities within a board.

Organizations often rely on various smaller entities inside their domain to carry out their day-to-day activities. Some include ad hoc, advisory, steering, and executive committees. However, local governments often rely on standing committees to help administer more pressing matters that affect their local communities.

Standing committees are sometimes referred to as the glue that holds a governing body together. After all, this particular board sector takes the most urgent tasks, such as investigating high-priority topics and recommending viable solutions. As a leader, it’s important that you understand the crucial roles that standing committees play in helping local governments address community needs.

We will help you understand what a standing committee is, its responsibilities, how you can join one, and how OnBoard powers effective standing committees. Read on to learn more.

What is a Standing Committee?

A standing committee is a long-term legislation group in municipal government. In contrast to ad hoc or corporate governance committees designed to handle specific situations, it’s named for its ongoing existence. Its usual practice to include the standing committee in the governing body’s statutes or the board procedures and policy guidelines. The standing committee has the most sway over the general trajectory of an organization’s pursuits, activities, initiatives, and general purpose.

In local governments, standing committees examine laws and topics and submit their conclusions to the whole house. Each committee’s chair is a member of the executive board or council. Standing committees are required by most legislatures’ procedures to study and report on new legislation submitted to them from the full chamber.

Standing committees are a vital component of local governance since they guarantee that the community’s affairs are orderly and effective. They typically debate public safety, regulations, planning, and government collaboration. As a result, they must establish a concise and productive means of operating to cater to the demands of their community in a timely and effective manner.

Standing Committee Responsibilities

The best approach to better understanding standing committees is to comprehend their roles. A standing committee’s most essential job is offering the full chamber legislative reviews and recommendations. In addition, standing committees are in charge of:

Discussing and Debating Bills and Amendments

Local governments may establish standing committees to oversee, discuss, and debate the creation and amendment of bills ranging from public safety or ethics to ecology, security, regulatory needs, or other matters. They may be asked to develop and implement the organization’s strategy, budget, processes, and operational plans.

In such a role, they’ll debate proposed amendments and bills from the full chamber, weigh all available options, and offer their opinion on the matter for consideration before a vote. 

Holding Hearings to Gather Testimony

In some cases, local governments may launch investigations on matters ranging from budget use, member conduct, and committee charter violations to risk management. In such cases, the standing committee holds hearings from different witnesses and other parties to gather testimony and evidence. They will then present these testimonies to the full chamber or authorities for further action.

Report Findings to the Full Chamber

Standing committees are often tasked with researching and reporting findings to the full chambers. They are in charge of researching the short and long-term repercussions of a bill or amendment on the local community. They then present all positive and negative findings to the full chamber, so they can make an informed decision.

Make Decisions on Bills to Bring to Vote

Part of the responsibility that standing committees share with the full chamber is prioritizing matters based on the community’s needs. For instance, if public safety or health concerns the local community, it is the standing committee’s responsibility to make recommendations to the full chamber that they should put an amendment or bill to a vote to address the issue. 

Partner with Joint Committees 

To address specific issues that require a multi-faceted approach, standing committees may collaborate and form joint committees with other committees and organizations. These joint committees enable a more comprehensive analysis and facilitate coordination between different bodies, fostering a holistic approach to problem-solving.

How to Join a Standing Committee

The first step in joining a standing committee is to reach out to your state or regional representative. Each chamber has its procedure for selecting individuals for committees, and most require members to declare their desire to work on a certain committee. In some situations, members of committees will be appointed by the leaders of each party. Members may also be elected by their peers or selected through a lottery system in other instances.

Once nominated to a committee, you are expected to engage in all areas of its scope, including attending meetings and trials, analyzing legislation, and lobbying for or against measures. You will also be informed of the board term limit you will serve as a standing committee member.

However, before contacting your representative about a position on the standing committee, you need to have the following qualities:

  • Motivation to work with others: A standing committee is a dedicated group of people actively working toward specific aims. Members of local government standing committees must be self-driven and capable of functioning well with other members.
  • Time management skills: Serving on a standing committee takes significant time. Individuals serving on a local government standing committee must devote time to the committee and its activities.
  • Capacity for prioritizing: As a member of a standing committee, you must be able to prioritize competing tasks based on level of importance.

OnBoard Powers Effective Committees

As a committee member, you can help shape the legislative process by sharing your expert knowledge and views on the proposals under consideration. However, it is possible that, like other members, you may confront difficulties in efficiently administering the standing committee’s work, such as scheduling meetings, tracking bills, and communicating with other members.

OnBoard board management software can assist you in creating a virtual environment and process for standing committee members. The comprehensive meeting platform is tailor made for government bodies and public boards and includes powerful features to help revolutionize public engagement, meeting outcomes, and modern digital governance. 

Download our free board meeting template agenda to bring structure, clarity, and efficiency to board meetings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What Does a Standing Committee Do?

    A standing committee discusses and revises legislative amendments and bills under the committee's jurisdiction.

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About The Author

Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.