Five Minutes to Prove There Are No Rules in the House


Seeing all the House budget-night fun on my Twitter feed, I tuned in on Capitol TV for a few minutes.  That was all it took for me to see Majority Leader John DeSimone (D, Providence) kinda sorta make a motion to rule an amendment by Michael Chippendale (R, Coventry, Foster, Glocester) out of order.  (I say “kinda sorta” because he never made a motion.  He just mumbled some stuff as if he were clarifying the amendment and then asked what the ruling of the speaker was.)

Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D, Cranston) proceeded to discuss the matter off microphone and then declared that Chippendale’s amendment was indeed out of order, because for some reason, he thought that changing the gas tax rate for a year had no business in an article labeled “Relating to Revenues.”  Instead, DeSimone had said the amendment should have been made to Article 21, which would raise the gas tax next year for the purpose of the transportation fund and the Sakonnet River Bridge tolls.  By contrast, Chippendale’s proposal was to switch out the 38 Studios bond fund for some gas tax relief… obviously not related to the transportation fund or the toll in any way.

Chippendale challenged the ruling, but a near unanimous chamber agreed that an amendment relating to revenue was not germane to an article relating to revenue.

Does anybody really need any more proof that the entire budget process — the entire legislative process — is a sham?  Either the other reps were not willing to go against the speaker or (maybe more likely) they all are painfully aware of how useless amendments are and figured the ruling was an easy way to end the phony show of representative democracy a little earlier than usual.

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