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Posted at 3:13 PM ET, 01/14/2011

Democrats push for rules changes in the House

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

Democrats in the House of Delegates are pushing for a pair of rules changes. But with only 39 votes in the House, they face an uphill battle getting either of them passed.

House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong is calling for an end to the practice of reporting bills to the full chamber without recommendations and to bills being killed in subcommittee.

The proposed rules changes will be read for five days starting Friday before delegates vote on them next week.

Armstrong (D-Henry) said Republicans, who control the chamber, have twice in recent years sent bills straight from the Rules Committee run by Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) to the House floor with no recommendation.

"It's a vehicle by which it's used to politically embarrass the Democratic side of the aisle," he said. "I think it flies in the face of the tradition of the House. We have a very good committee system, which means a committee hears a bill and advances a bill if they like it, they do not advance a bill if they don't. This flies in the face of that."

Armstrong said he would like to return to the system the House had before 2006, when both subcommittees and committees heard all bills. He said that now, sometimes as few as three delegates are killing bills in subcommittees.

"I think the full committee ought to decide the fate of a bill,'' he said.

In 2006, the House changed the rules to allow subcommittees to kill legislation on unrecorded votes. It began recording the votes in 2008. Before 2006, subcommittees did not record votes but they could only make recommendations and not kill a bill outright.

By Anita Kumar  | January 14, 2011; 3:13 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates  
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