City Council Committee Assignments Are Out. Where Did Everybody Land?

This week is the start of the new City Council term, and on Monday Council President Darrell Clarke's office released the new committee assignments for the new Council. Members will serve on these committees for the whole 4-year term. 

The committees are a critical part of the legislative process because when legislation is introduced by members, the Council President's office refers it to the committee that oversees the relevant subject matter area. Often this is pretty clear-cut, but sometimes a bill's subject matter might reasonably overlap with multiple committees, in which case the President has discretion about where to send it. And because a committee can amend a bill and vote on it—or not—before it moves to a vote of the full Council, the make-up of the members who serve on the committees, and what their political beliefs are, is going to determine the viability of different policy proposals.

So even before any bills have been introduced, the decisions made about committee assignments this week have already set some political parameters about what kinds of legislative proposals will have an easier time or a harder time passing. 

Sean Collins Walsh at the Inquirer looked at some of the biggest changes, most notably how 6th District Council member Bobby Henon picked up some powerful committee leadership assignments despite having recently lost the Majority Leader election to Cherelle Parker. Henon will chair the Licenses + Inspections Committee and Public Property and Public Works—key committees of interest to the building trades unions who are his biggest backers.

With the committee assignments, Henon is arguably poised to become more powerful in the next four years than he was in the previous term. Although the majority leader position Henon lost is a largely symbolic role, the committee assignments he won Wednesday carry direct power over significant legislation.

Henon’s good fortune came as a surprise to many, because Clarke was seen as a backer of Councilmember Cherelle L. Parker in the race for majority leader. Parker unseated Henon in a tight race this month amid discomfort from other members about voting for a colleague who has been charged in a case centering on alleged corruption within the local Electricians union [...]

Councilmembers Derek Green, who will take over the Finance Committee, and Kenyatta Johnson, who now leads the Committee on Rules, are also poised to see their influence rise over the next four years.

Among those less lucky in the committee selections were Helen Gym and Kendra Brooks, who are expected to be the two progressive stalwarts of the next session. During Clarke’s tenure as president, each of the 17 Council members has been guaranteed to chair at least one committee. Gym and Brooks, who have both said they have no problem playing the roles of outsiders in Council, will lead two of the less influential panels.

You can click the header of each Committee on Council's website to unfurl the list of members. This layout makes it difficult to get a sense of where everybody is, so to help make it easier to understand visually, we created this table. A 'C' denotes the member is the committee chair, and V is for Vice Chair. Bookmark the spreadsheet here for future reference, and leave a comment with any suggestions for improving the readability.

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