Resolution changing quorum rules to make bills easier to pass committee, defeated in committee

03/22/2018 03:45 PM

FRANKFORT — A resolution which would have made it easier to pass bills out of committee, and given committee chairmen a lot more power was defeated by a slim-majority in a special called House committee meeting on Thursday.

House Resolution 238, sponsored by Rep. Scott Wells, R- West Liberty, would have fundamentally changed how Frankfort operates by potentially lowering the vote threshold for bills to pass in committee.

The resolution called for “a simple majority of the committee membership present and voting favorably to report a bill or resolution, provided that no bill or resolution shall be reported without at least a quorum of the committee membership present for the vote.”

“Right now we have a very high bar to pass bills out of committee, and I don’t think that was the intent,” Wells said.

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, and Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, who are both retiring at the end of the year, said they were opposed to the legislation as it would fundamentally change the legislative system.

Whether or in jest, or for their own reasons, including for “Harmony Day” and National “Goof-off Day” multiple members of the committee voted in favor of the resolution — including committee chair Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, who said he would like to be more important. Rep. Bart Rowland, the chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee also voted for the bill for the same reason as Miller.

The resolution failed gaining seven yes votes and seven no votes, with one pass vote.

Rule changes are often brought by the majority party in caucus before the beginning of session, and read on the first day back in session by the majority party — but this change came through committee — a first for Democratic Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, who said he had never seen such an attempt to change a rule go through the committee process in his near half-century in the General Assembly.


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