Stop This. The Legislative Leadership Is Not Nearly As Powerful as our Rank and File Legislators Let Them Be.
I watched the Capitol TV replay of the recommission of the E-verify bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed announced the bill, Majority Leader Daniel Connors immediately made the motion to recommit, and a voice vote was taken. Senator Connors was correct in saying that Senate rules do not allow any debate on a motion to recommit.
However, as is frequently the case in the Rhode Island legislature, the commands of the leadership are not nearly as final as the legislators we elect allow them to be.
There were at least two fundamental actions that E-verify supporters, supporters of democracy and supporters of the general principle of counting votes had available to them to make sure that the E-Verify bill was not disposed of via unilateral leadership action.
- According to Senate rule 8.1, just one (1) Senator requesting a roll call vote would have made the roll call vote a requirement…
Method of Voting. The electronic roll of the senate shall be called upon any vote pertaining to a public bill and for passage of the consent calendar and on any other vote at the request of any senator present; otherwise, votes shall be put by yeas and nays. In naming sums or numbers, and fixing times, the largest sum or longest time shall be put first.…but no Senator made that request.
- According to Senate rule 8.8.2, even when an issue is decided by a yays-and-nays vote, any Senator has the right to have his or her vote entered into the Senate Journal…
Upon request, on any non-recorded vote, any senator shall have his or her vote recorded so that it shall appear in the journal of the senate.…which raises an interesting possibility: what would happen if, after a voice vote was declared by the leadership to have passed, a majority of Senators immediately followed by requesting that their individual votes be recorded in the negative (that is, what would happen to the bill, after the leadership immediately resigned in disgrace)?