Friday, April 05, 2013

Greg Stumbo should change House "discharge petition" rule while he still can

Governor Steve Beshear says he will sign Senate Bill 3 today, possibly ending the state's decade-long harassment of Christian MediShare, a religious alternative to government regulated health insurance.

The bill nearly died before a discharge petition was filed by Rep. Stan Lee on March 5. Discharge petitions in legislatures allow a minority of members to force a floor vote on a bill being held up by leadership. As it turned out Lee's discharge petition was ruled out of order and negotiations by Senator Tom Buford broke the bill free from House leadership's grasp.

House rules relating to discharge petitions render useless what could and should be a very beneficial tool for better representation in Frankfort. House Rule 48 should simply be amended to require 25 House member signatures on a petition to force a floor vote within one day of its filing. As it is, the rule has been gunked up with nonsense about reporting a bill in a "reasonable time" and then only kicking it back to the Rules Committee where more games can be played to forestall actual action on the bill.

Given the increasing probability that Kentucky Democrats will lose their House majority in the 2014, they should move now to straighten up House Rule 48 to work for the people and not just a tiny group of power-hungry politicians.