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1999 Annual Report
House and Committee Services
Louise J. Kamuchik, Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees
In 1999 House and Committee Services (HCS) provided procedural and administrative support during 62 sitting days and 32 standing and special committee meetings. During the fall sittings several branch staff received Table Officer training. Throughout the year the branch increased public access to Assembly documents by expanding the number of sessional documents available on the web site. HCS staff also participated in a number of events both within the LAO and in other parts of the country.
To mark the designation of 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons, the Central Lions' Seniors' Choir led members in singing O Canada when the third session of the 24th Legislature officially opened on Tuesday, February 16, for the Speech from the Throne. On March 11 Provincial Treasurer Stockwell Day tabled the province's budget. The 49-day spring sittings adjourned on May 18.
On November 15 Pamela Paul, MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs, resigned from the Liberal caucus to sit as an independent. The Assembly reconvened on November 17 and adjourned December 8. On December 7 the third longest evening sitting in Alberta history occurred when the House sat from 8 p.m. until 4:38 a.m. the next morning.
On December 9 His Honour the Honourable Lieutenant Governor H.A. `Bud' Olson announced he would be stepping down as Alberta's 14th Lieutenant Governor after three and a half years. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed Mrs. Lois E. Hole as His Honour's successor. Her installation as Alberta's second female Lieutenant Governor was scheduled for February 10, 2000.
Three of the 29 private members' public bills introduced in 1999 received Royal Assent, bringing to 19 the number of private members' public bills that have received Royal Assent since the parliamentary reforms of 1993. House activity increased in many areas over previous years. The number of motions for returns and petitions presented to the Assembly increased significantly. To provide timely public access to sessional documents, with the help of Information Systems Services (ISS) the branch made the status of bills and the complete text of bills and amendments available on the Assembly's Internet site. Internet users also have access to other House documents, including Order Papers, Votes and Proceedings, written questions, motions for returns, and minutes of committee meetings.
During the fall sittings the committee clerks and procedural clerk began training to learn the various tasks performed by the Table Officers while the House is in session. This will provide valuable backup should the Clerk Assistant be called away. In addition, with the resignation of the journals and bills clerk in December, plans were made to hire a full-time person and a second sessional person to help with the increased workload.
Throughout the year HCS staff provided administrative and procedural support for 32 meetings of standing and special standing committees of the Assembly. The title of administrative assistants to committees was changed to committee clerks to better reflect the role and responsibilities of these individuals. Active standing committees in 1999 included the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (14 meetings), the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund (3 meetings), Legislative Offices (5 meetings), Private Bills (5 meetings), and the Special Standing Committee on Members' Services (3 meetings). The Select Special Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Review Committee completed its mandate with two meetings in 1999.
During the spring the Committee of Supply established nine committees to review government department estimates. Five designated supply subcommittees were appointed to review estimates of specific departments designated by the Official Opposition; an additional four subcommittees of supply were appointed to review the estimates of other departments.
In the fall the Assembly changed the membership of several standing committees, including the appointment of a new chair for the Standing Committee on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund. The committee's annual public meetings with Albertans on the investment activities and results of the heritage fund needed to meet its legislative requirements were postponed to March 2000.
The branch continued its practice of co-operating with other jurisdictions by responding to many surveys and questionnaires on Assembly and committee procedures, actively participating in relevant associations, and attending professional development seminars and conferences. The Clerk Assistant continued to provide administrative support to the Alberta section of the America Region of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) and the education committee of the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table. Alberta APF members and the Clerk Assistant attended the International Plenary Session of the APF in Ontario.
Alberta's committee clerks attended the first Special Conference on Parliamentary Committees in Ottawa in September. The Alberta representatives presented two papers, one titled Administrative Issues: Organizing Committee Travel and Procedural Handbooks, and the other, Review of the Appointment of Officers.
The Clerk Assistant presented the jurisdictional report at the Clerks-at-the-Table professional development seminar in August. Branch staff also attended the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees conference and the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws conference.
HCS staff was actively involved, either as volunteers or representatives, in a number of joint projects internally, including the Assembly's web committee, the staff recognition dinner, the Speaker's Cup, and the United Way campaign.
The electronic copy of the Legislative Assembly Office Annual Report is UNOFFICIAL and is provided for information purposes only. The printed version is the OFFICIAL Annual Report.