…Upon One-Fifths Request!
The Legislature appears to be adopting a rule to rein in hoghouse amendments.
On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Procedure Committee voted 13–1 to amend Joint Rule 6E-2 by adding the following underlines text:
PROPOSED RULE CHANGE TO JOINT RULE 6E-2.
6E-2. Hoghouse Amendments. Any substitute bill shall be treated as an amendment and shall be governed by the rules governing amendments. A committee may not take final action on a bill so amended until one legislative day has intervened, unless it is the final day for the committee to act upon the bill, according to the committee’s meeting schedule. [Joint Legislative Procedure, minutes, 2018.03.06]
Right now, a committee can grab a bill, erase its entire contents, substitute almost any vaguely related provisions, and approve that new (“hoghoused”) bill to move to the House of Senate floor without any notice and thus, conceivably, without any public input. The above change would make the committee wait at least one day before voting a hoghouses bill up or down, giving the public at least that minimal opportunity to read the hoghouse, come to Pierre to submit testimony, lobby committee members, and rally voters to speak up on the new provisions.
Sounds fair, right? I mean, if the Legislature can make a woman wait 72 hours to undergo a medical procedure that ought to concern no one but herself, her doctor, and the people she invites into her private life, we should be able to demand that a Legislative committee wait at least 24 hours before making a change that could affect every South Dakotan, right?
Well, apparently that’s a bit too fair for our surprise-loving Legislature. Today’s Joint Legislative Procedure agenda announced a “Reconsideration of 6E-2 Revisions.”
RECONSIDERATION OF PROPOSED RULE CHANGE TO JOINT RULE 6E-2
6E-2. Hoghouse Amendments. Any substitute bill shall be treated as an amendment and shall be governed by the rules governing amendments. Final committee action on any bill so amended may not be heard until one legislative day has intervened, if a request for delay is made and supported by at least one-fifth of the committee members-elect. However, no such request is in order on the final day for the committee to act upon the bill, according to the committee’s schedule. [Joint Legislative Procedure, minutes, 2018.03.08]
Instead of the hoghouse waiting period being automatic, this version of the rule requires at least two members in the typical Senate committee or three members of the typical House committee to put the brakes on a hoghouse rush. Right now, Democrats hold fewer than one fifth of the seats on several committees, so under the revised rule, a unified Republican caucus could still spring a surprise hoghouse and launch it to committee before the public gets a crack at it in committee. That math says we Dems should either kill that one-fifths rule or win more seats.
The committee approved the one-day-wait-on-one-fifths-request rule 10–1 (prior Ayes Haugaard, Curd, and Frerichs were absent; Langer remained a Nay). That new rule is better than the current unrestricted hoghouse; if I were in the Senate, I could probably recruit at least one Republican committee colleague to help me delay a really bad, sneaky hoghouse. But this rule is also one more small reason that we need to elect more Democrats this fall!