Roll Call 

Let GOP bills go free

Let GOP bills go free

If anyone is wondering why there seems to be so little interest in running for the state legislature, they need only consider what happened at the State Capitol last week. For years, House Republicans have complained that the Democratic leadership abuses the House subcommittee system. It happens like this: A bill is filed and sent to a designated subcommittee, the sponsor of the bill presents the bill and the subcommittee "votes" on it by calling out "ayes" and "noes." No matter how many "ayes" and "noes" there actually are, the subcommittee chairperson declares whether the measure is passed or not. No individual votes are actually recorded. The whole thing is so farcical that "votes" have been occasionally cast from people who are not even members of the subcommittees.

Last week, House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh had his fill of Republican tub-thumping for recorded votes in subcommittees. So he declared that the GOP had a good point. Since legislators serve the people, they should be held accountable for their votes. Henceforth, all substantive votes would be recorded and Naifeh commended Republicans for their efforts to increase legislative accountability.

OK, not really. Naifeh instead threw a tantrum, ordering that all votes be recorded in subcommittees. By "all votes," he meant all votes—including procedural votes like whether to make a motion, call the question, adjourn or even take a potty break. See, the Republicans didn't say they wanted only substantive votes recorded, just "all votes." Get it? Many House Democrats and a number of sycophantic lobbyists thought this was just knee-slappingly funny. Your tax dollars at work.

Needless to say, the new system slowed committee meetings to a crawl. A compromise was brokered in which only substantive matters would be subject to a recorded vote. This, of course, was what Republicans had requested in the first place, for which they were treated like the title characters in "Revenge of the Nerds." Is it at all surprising that people aren't exactly clamoring to be a part of the action on Capitol Hill?


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