House Rules Hearing Draws Big Crowd
Over 40 Rhode Island citizens and experts signed up to give testimony – all in opposition – to H5037, the House Rules bill for 2019/20. A dozen or so more names were added in opposition, but did not provide testimony.
The strong opposition to this bill comes from a variety of factors:
- 4 key changes that were proposed by the Reform Caucus were left out entirely
- Leadership’s version gives too much power to the Speaker of the House
- The hasty scheduling of this bill, perceived as a thinly veiled attempt to stifle debate; normally the rules bill doesn’t get a vote until late January
In testimony that lasted for almost 3 hours the Committee heard over and over the frustration of the public and of groups at the unfair processes that give too much power to a very select few. This imbalance of power has allowed for inefficiency and lack of transparency that runs counter to democracy.
We will continue to watch this situation and advocate for the reasonable and thoughtful proposals of the Reform Caucus in the next few days, when we expect House leadership to call a vote.
The Reform Caucus Rule Changes:
- Require a 2/3 majority of vote of members to suspend House rules
- Proposed substitute amendments shall be posted online and made available to the public for 48 hours prior to any vote in committee or on the floor
- Any bill introduced in year one of the legislative term shall remain before the body for consideation in the second, and final, year of term
- Any bill that receives the signed support of 38 House members will be allowed a vote on the floor (eliminating the holding of bills for further study)