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Apr 25, 2008

I"ve been calling around ...

I called several legislators' offices yesterday to try and tried to promote the National Languages Development Draft Draft Law (國家語言發展草案). The bad news -- other than Chiang Yi-hsiung's rather directly saying this bill would get no attention -- is that I also realized the KMT think tank hates this bill, so it will not very likely get KMT support.

The good news was that I got a couple of them to promise me they'd look at the bill, talk to their fellow committee members and see about moving it up on the agenda. Chiang Ling-chun (江玲君) told me he'd ask around but that it doesn't sound like a high priority bill

And I learned something that I had only vaguely understood. Each committee has two (or more rarely, one) convening members. They're like chairs.

Only they have a right to set the agenda for each committee meeting (decide which laws will be reviewed by the committee and sent to the floor). You need a convening member's support to get your legislation on the review agenda.

And the DPP has no chairs on any of the normal committees (you know, Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defense, Education and Culture, Finance, etc.), nor on the Procedural Committee, nor the Disciplinary Committee. Which is to say, no chairs at all.

And this means no matter what bills the DPP brings up, the proposals have no chance of even getting voted on. The KMT can effortlessly bottle them up because there is no window for the DPP to influence committee procedures.

I guess somehow, I hadn't realized it was quite that bad.

Update: Clarification from a buddy:

"Well, it's not really the case. Committee conveners' job is to host meetings, though technically, they can boycott or promote certain bills with their power, but a convener isn't really that powerful.

It's the Procedures Committee (程序委員會) that decides which bill gets reviewed where and when--and the KMT has an absolute majority in that committee. I'd imagine, with only 27 members, even if there were DPP committee conveners, any DPP proposal can still be easily voted down with the overwhelming KMT majority."

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