Breaking The Rules Committee

Most people know very little about how bills are shaped in the state legislature. For example, in the House of Delegates, there are 14 standing committees with titles, but the titles have no official rules on scope. The Speaker of the House decides which bills get split up into what committees. This means if the Speaker wants to kill a bill, all he has to do is create a committee designed to do just that, and shuffle bills he doesn’t like to that committee. Worse, if a committee wants to kill a bill, all they have to do is stuff it into a stacked sub-committee, so it can be voted down by as few as four people.

Ladies and Gents, meet the GOP House Rules (or should I say, “Rules”) committee, a body that breaks the rules to kill the opposition’s bills. To understand what I mean by “break the rules” you have to know what the rules are.

Official House rules state the following:

Rule 16(a) “The apportionment of members shall be according to the same ratio of members in the House of Delegates who are members or nonmembers of the majority party caucus. If such ratio would represent a fractional number of the committee or subcommittee membership assigned to the majority party caucus, then the number of majority party caucus members shall be the next highest whole number of committee or subcommittee members.”

Since the 2018 House consists of 51 GOP and 49 Democratic members, a committee with 17 members, according to the House’s OWN rules, should consist of 9 GOP and 8 Democrats. But Speaker Cox doesn’t feel the need to follow said rules. What was the actual makeup of the 2018 House Rules Committee?

Plus, with a name like House Rules Committee, just about any law could wind up there, but usually it’s the laws the GOP doesn’t want to reach the full House for a vote. The committee struck down 123 proposals, which in itself isn’t necessarily bad, but here are some of the important losses:

1.) Allowing DACA recipients the ability to get in-state tuition like any other Virginia citizen, along with another proposal to allow anyone who graduated from a Virginia high school and who has applied for citizenship to receive in-state tuition, were blocked.

 2.) A proposal to make sure sub-committee meetings are recorded like full committee meetings was killed on a party-line vote. (Transparency? The Dems want it. The GOP does not.)

3.) Four GOP members in a sub-committee killed a proposal to study (just to study) educational parity in our public schools.

4.) A proposal by Rep. Danica Roem to fund training for school board employees to identify suicidal students was killed on a party-line vote, again, in a sub-committee by four GOP members.

5.) A proposal to commend the women of any party who ran for public office in 2017 was also dropped.

Without the GOP stacking committees with uneven distribution, we could go forward in studying ways to stop food deserts, provide broadband coverage to everyone, find ways to provide pre-school to all Virginia children, and more.

If we want a government who plays fair, we’re going to have to put more Dems in there.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Public records can be found at lis.virginia.gov.

Don’t want to ban bump stocks? We’ll bump you out of a job when you’re up for reelection.


~ Article by ITS-W

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