Stifling Debate

In taking over from the Democrats, the Republicans in the State House have decided to fashion themselves after the US House leadership. In doing so, the Republicans rammed through (pdf) this rules package that has one provision a lot of people on both sides of the aisle aren’t too happy about.

33.2 In arranging and fixing the calendar for each day’s business, the Committee on Rules is
authorized to place on each measure to come before the House any of the following special rules:

(a) Open Rule- Germane amendments may be offered in accordance with the provisions of
these Rules.

(b) Modified Open Rule- Germane amendments may be offered subject only to an overall
time limit on the amendment process and a requirement that the amendments be pre-printed and
placed upon the desk one hour prior to debate.

(c) Modified Structured Rule- Germane amendments designated by the Committee on
Rules may be offered. This rule may preclude amendments to a particular portion of the bill,
although other parts of the bill may be open to amendment.

(d) Structured Rule- No amendments may be offered.

The rule allows the Rules Committee to decide which bills coming from committees may be amended on the floor of the House. While it creates a more efficient process, it also hinders the ability of elected representatives to participate effectively in debate.

I trust the House leadership will not to abuse the power, and I trust it will be used more to stymie the efforts of an angry minority that thinks it should be the majority. Using the rule that way would be sweet indeed.

At the same time, one wonders abou the right of a representative to actively engage in the legislative process when his hands are tied through the Rules Committee. One also wonders what might happen to the Republicans if they fail to maintain their majority in two years — something that is not likely, but should be considered.

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Erick Erickson

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