Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Who Is Leading The House?

Kentucky's House of Representatives is in disarray. The Democratic caucus hasn't even met once since the first week of the General Assembly. While they wait for Greg Stumbo to come and tell them what to do, some enterprising lawmakers need to start filing discharge petitions to get bills moving around the stagnant leaders.

House rule 48 describes the discharge petition procedure:
Whenever a committee fails or refuses to report within a reasonable time a bill submitted to it, a member may sponsor and file with the Clerk a written request, signed by twenty-five or more members, to call the same up for consideration on the next succeeding legislative day after the filing of the request. The effect of this petition shall be to bring before the House the question of whether the committee to which the bill has been assigned has held the bill for an unreasonable time.
Upon the motion of the member sponsoring the request, and if a majority of the members elected to the House concur that the bill has been held an unreasonable time, the bill shall be considered as though it had been regularly reported, and sent to the Rules Committee.

The Rules Committee's responsibilities are covered in House rule 41. The rule reads in part:
All bills and resolutions having been reported out of the committee to which referred and having received their second reading shall be referred to the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee may refer any bill or resolution before it back to a standing committee...
No bill or resolution shall be referred back by the Rules Committee on more than one occasion...
No bill may be kept in Rules Committee for longer than five legislative days. Within that time, each bill must be reported to the floor or referred back to a standing committee.

The House is sitting on their important bills and the rules provide discharge petitions to light a fire under House leaders. Let's get on with it.