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Hard to believe this is a Republican form of government
February 10, 2017
By District 1 Representative Heather Scott

Week #5 of the 2017 legislative session is coming to a close and legislators have been busy. To date, a total of 155 House Bills and 82 Senate Bills have been printed.

These bills are routed through committees, where testimony is presented on the bill. If passed out of committee, bills must pass through both chambers and be approved by the governor in order to become law.

While every legislator’s vote is equal during a full House or Senate floor voting session, every legislator’s representation of their district is not treated the same way.

Each Committee Chairman has the ability to allow a bill to be heard or not be heard within the committees. This is where politics can get shady and the most likely place where citizen’s freedoms and liberties can get trampled.

Many committee chairmen follow a top down, centralized-power type of agenda instead of allowing every legislator to present the ideas of their constituents. The Committee Chairman makes the final decision if a bill is even put on the agenda.

Does this sound like Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people, for the people” to you? Me neither.

If a Committee Chairman crosses the Speaker of the House, the Speaker can remove that chairman from his/her position and replace them with a new chair. This may be the reason a committee chairman from last year lost his position this year, after he voted against the Speaker’s bill at the end of last session.

It’s hard to believe at times we still call this a Republican form of government.

This style of leadership not only hurts conservative liberty minded republicans but also democrats. Citizens from a broad spectrum of the population are being silenced.

It should also be noted that legislators gain seniority the longer they stay on the same committee. Seniority generally leads to a chairmanship. Moving legislators around on committees during every session is a slick way for leadership to insure they either “stack the deck” in committees they need to insure the proper voting results or to keep those they dislike from staying on committees where they are effective, or to gain a chairmanship position.

Currently there are several good bill ideas sitting in Committee Chairmen drawers (see my reference above as to why the Committee system needs revisiting) and are being denied an opportunity to be introduced and debated. These bill ideas (called RSs) are being refused an all-important hearing which is required to give an RS a bill number.

This is one of the many reasons I always encourage citizens to get involved in their government. You can make your voice heard by frequently contacting committee chairmen and demanding these ideas be heard and receive a fair debate.

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