Thursday, March 31, 2011

Closed Legislature 2

On Wednesday we reported on the shenanigans of the state legislature, and we're sad to report that those transgressions continued late into the evening.
While the Assembly did eventually allow a limited number of public citizens into the upstairs chamber galley, it did not occur until late in the evening.
More egregious, though, were the continued actions of the Senate to clamp down its proceedings so that it could move the budget process along unabated. This included refusing to let people attend the Senate Finance meetings, which are supposedly open to the public.
I was stopped at one of the guarded glass doors when I tried to get to the meeting. When I suggested that it was an open meeting and I should be allowed to attend, a Senate Chamber official alerted me that, "We make the rules, not you." I would like to add that most other chamber officials are very courteous and helpful, but were placed in a tough position because of protesters last night, which was made worse by having to enforce unclear rules.
Additionally, in that Senate Finance meeting, the members of the committee were forced to vote on a "C" version of a bill, even though they would be taking up the "D" version on the floor. In response to concerns expressed by Democrats and Republicans in the committee about this issue, counsel for the committee and Chair John DeFrancisco urged members to just write the correct letter on their paperwork.
All of this did lead to an on-time budget.
(Editor's note: We are not alleging that the issue with the different versions of the budget bills is illegal, just stating what was done for the sake of expediency.)

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