MN GOP, stifled by new rules, offers 159 amendments
Last week, there was a nine hour floor debate in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Obviously, there’s a lot to talk about. Were they discussing the health exchange bill that needs to be completed by the end of March? A bonding bill to put Minnesotans back to work? The Governor’s tax plan?
No, they were debating the rules about debating. Specifically, whether amendments offered from the floor need to be filed 24 hours in advance of the debate. The plaintive cry of the oppressed Republican minority was that this would end democracy as we know it.
“This is a mechanism to centralize and consolidate power,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington.
“You are preventing a true vetting of important legislation,” said Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines. “Why come to the floor? Because there’s nothing real going on.”
Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said the change would “stifle members.” “…restricting and silencing members is not openness.”
But after nine hours of this, the rules changes passed 69-59. And today, on the first four bills subject to the new rules, we learned the extent to which these new rules would “stifle,” “silence,” and “restrict” Republican amendments during floor debates.
Monday morning, House Republicans pre-filed 159 amendments on four noncontroversial bills.
This stunt, while emotionally satisfying for Republican members, demonstrates yet again their failure to understand how much voters disdain stupid political tricks. Yes, what Minnesota voters really want is for the minority to grind noncontroversial legislation to a halt in their petulance. Not only that, but it belies their statements about how this rule change would stifle debate.
This rules fight was already a massive messaging fail for Republicans. Remember the demands to “READ THE BILL!” and Republican pledges to post bills online for 72 hours before they could be voted on? Well, in this case, last minute amendments with no public notice whatsoever are apparently the heart of democracy. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Today’s raft of amendments is just yet another flip-flop on process rules for Republicans.
But this is just an attempt to throw a spanner in the works and obstruct everything. Is this really the Republican strategy for taking back the House in 2016? If so, good luck.
EDIT: The actual number of amendments is 159, with 124 of them offered by Minority Leader Daudt. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated there were 162 amendments, with 127 offered by Daudt,
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