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· June 27, 2011

Rules were made to be broken – but so soon?

As conference committee is again delayed (nine times, at current count) and the deadline for the Governor to sign the budget into law is barely over 72 hours away, we thought it might be interesting to review one of the newest rules of the Ohio House of Representatives:
Rule 66A. (Conference committee reports carrying appropriations.) All conference committee reports carrying an appropriation shall lie over two calendar days before being considered, unless otherwise ordered by a majority of the House.
In other words, the House must wait for two days before voting on budget bills, so their members have time to read them (HB 153 is currently clocking in at over 5,000 pages). Back in November, when announcing the new rule, Speaker Batchelder said:
“With Ohio facing such large challenges, it is more important now than ever before that the House operate in a way that will encourage the public to be fully engaged with the work that is done here.”
And his designee charged to write the rule, Representative Randy Gardner, added:
“There is no question that we must restore a minimum two-day waiting or reading period before final votes are taken on our state budget bills. The people of Ohio and all House members must be provided time to know what’s in the bills before we vote.”
With Conference Committee now postponed until this evening, laying the bill over on Tuesday and Wednesday would put the vote on Thursday, bumping right up against the legal deadline for the Governor to sign the bill. So the House faces two options: waive the brand-new rule and make members vote on a budget they haven’t read, or box the Governor in completely so that he has effectively no time to read the bill or exert his line-item veto authority. So much for one-party rule making things run more smoothly.

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