Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Discharge petitions

A discharge petition is a maneuver that can be used to dislodge a bill from committee that won't be heard, and move it to the rules committee where it can be then put on the orders of the day.

The Republicans in the House have begun using discharge petitions to try to get some bills up for a vote this session. The first time was on Friday, attempting to dislodge SB 40 from the House Judiciary Committee. The motion to approve requires 51 votes. The vote was 40-16. Obviously, many people chose to not vote either way. So SB 40 remains in committee.

There was a discharge petition filed for HB 43, a bill to exempt military pay from income taxes. These petitions must come during a portion of the agenda called "Motions Petitions and Communications" and can only last 30 minutes. So yesterday we were educated for about 30 minutes about women's history. An interesting lesson, but obviously one designed by its length to thwart any opportunity for us to call up a discharge petition.

But good things to come from these petitions. Today in the House Appropriations and Revenue committee HB 43 was heard and passed. It is very unlikely that it would have been heard otherwise. So we are making progress.