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Bits and Pieces from the Idaho Legislature

Parliamentary Procedure for Dummies

By putting in some extra time after lunch last week, the Idaho House got through its entire backlog of bills to be voted on. The Senate is putting in an extra half hour each morning but still has a backlog.

In an attempt to speed things up, this week the Senate moved to consider its own bills first, and then consider bills that come from the House. Not to be outdone, the House did the same thing the following day.

The Senate is also using a parliamentary trick to streamline voting. Like the House, the Senate needs to have a roll-call vote on anything involving money or with a financial impact – which is the majority of bills – but unlike the House, which has a computerized voting system, the Senate does a real roll call, calling off the names of all 35 Senators. The voting often lasts longer than the discussion.

Consequently, on the routine bills where everyone is voting yes, the Senators will do one roll call on the first one, and thereafter, the Senator introducing a bill will ask for a unanimous consent request – in other words “Unless someone has a problem with this” – to simply use the roll call vote from the previous motion. Unless someone is really insistent on voting against a bill, it goes through.

The bulk of the major bills, including all the 2009 appropriations, are yet to be introduced, though the Senate did pass a concurrent resolution on Friday giving real estate professionals the right to tell bad jokes.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Not surprisingly, in rattling off a long list of dollar and staff number figures during the making of Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee motions, it’s not unusual to make a mistake. In one particularly memorable case, JFAC vice-chair Representative Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, got too used to saying “million” and stated that the prison system had a million staffers.

Representative Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, pointed out that he’d just put 2/3rds of the population of Idaho into working for the prisons.

What’s That, Grandpa?

JFAC Co-Chair Senator Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, couldn’t figure out why everyone was laughing at him on Wednesday, until someone explained that he had just said “Does anyone wish to change their motion” instead of “does anyone wish to change their vote.” “You guys are picky this morning,” he mock-complained. “You never listen to me any other time, so why are you listening to me today?”

Cameron also became a grandfather this week for the first time.

Representative, What are You Wearing?

JFAC vice chair Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, was suffering from a cold this week that made her normally throaty voice even huskier. At a point where she was called on to defend a motion, she said, “I’ll do it, unless it’s too painful for you to listen to.” “No, we enjoy it,” said co-chair Representative Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, adding, “I’ve heard voices like that on phone calls, but I hang up.” “It hurts worse when I laugh,” Keough protested.

Try Taking Branden Durst with You

During debate for a bill regarding driver’s licenses, pointing out how commonly they’re used in other parts of society, head of the Transportation Committee Senator John McGee, R-Caldwell, revealed that he still gets carded.

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