Unaccountable Government

On April 11, 2018, the House State Government Committee held a voting meeting on HB 722. An amendment was proposed that guts HB 722 and gives even more power to legislators. It passed.

Below are Carol’s transcribed remarks and the related video.

“What we just saw was a blatant demonstration of unaccountable government. The chair of this committee announced at the end of the session yesterday that there would be a voting meeting today at 10:30. He did not announce what that meeting would be about. They did not give any material or agenda to the committee members until they arrived this morning at 10:30. At 10:30, he distributed his amendment of House Bill 722. His amendment would, rather than put in place an independent citizens’ redistricting commission, would instead put the power even more firmly in the hands of the majority in both of the houses.

“So rather than an independent commission, or rather than the five-person commission currently in place, which has two from each party and the fifth chosen by the state Supreme Court, his amendment would allow the majority leaders of both houses to select a person, which would give two from each party, and then both houses would vote for a third person from that house. Which in effect would give the majority party four members of a six-person commission composed entirely of Legislators.

“What we’ve seen is the incredible unaccountable government that results from that kind of gerrymandering, and this was a demonstration. So - at 10:30 this morning, the members of this committee were given a bill which they then voted on and passed by 11:00. They had not read the bill, they had not discussed the bill, they had not invited the prime sponsors of the original bill to explain their bill or to answer questions. There was no debate. There was no transparency. There was just this blatant attempt to bypass the public interest in an independent commission.

“Now, I will say: don’t be disheartened. This is not the end of the story. The Senate is working on Senate Bill 22. They’ve had one hearing where they allowed experts, they allowed sponsors, they allowed advocates to speak to the bills and to answer questions, to discuss the best way to do this. There will be another hearing in the Senate on April 24. We appreciate Senator Folmer’s interest in having accountable and transparent government and putting forward a process that still respects the law, the Constitution and the idea of representative government. That bill is moving forward. If it passes, which we hope it will, then it comes back to the House, and then the House leadership can decide: is this a place that actually believes the Constitution and will allow representative government to take place? To allow real debate and a real vote on that bill?

And if not, there will be an election in the fall. And citizens are watching. And citizens are angry. And citizens want to be represented. And citizens will be voting for people who promised to represent them.

“A bill in similar format to HB 722 and SB 22 will be re-introduced if this doesn’t pass in this session. And I promise there will be a different group of legislators here. There will be different leadership in place. And those bills will be enacted. It might not be now. But those who stand in the way will be swept away by citizens who insist that they be represented in this House. This is the people’s House and we insist on being represented.”

To watch the video please click this link. Thank you to our Montgomery County Local group for recording and transcribing.