In the passage of the “Voter ID” bill in the Senate today, President Mike Ellis and the GOP blatantly violated rules of the Senate and limited debate in a highly contentious session. The entire session from Thursday, May 19 is archived on Wiseye, and it is a lesson in the Democratic process that is being bludgeoned at the hands of Republicans in the Senate. Any reports in the media of “debate” on this bill had been grossly exaggerated. All night Tuesday, any “debate” was a series of amendments offered by Democrats, attempting to make the bill fair and reasonable, that were immediately tabled by Senator Leibham, rendering them moot. No debate on the merits of the amendments (Senator Erpenbach offered an amendment to prohibit carrying firearms into a polling place – seems reasonable in light of pending concealed carry legislation), they were summarily cast away. This is not debate, it is the Republicans standing silent as many of their own constituents’ rights are diminished, unwilling to consider the most common sense amendments. Again, this is not the spirit of debate.
Today, May 19, the Senate adopted a rule to limit debate in organization committee prior to the session – debate was to end at 11am. The time limit was challenged by Democrats, and defeated. Never mind that the Senate has existing rules to end debate, that the Senate is structured to be a deliberative body to preserve minority rights; the Majority party limited the debate on an extraordinarily draconian bill. Although this time is set, there is a schedule of Senators to speak. During Senator Risser’s time, President Mike Ellis informed him of his limited time remaining. While Senator Risser had the floor (with Senator Vinehout waiting her turn to speak for her constituents), President Ellis announced time had expired. As Mike Ellis was about to cut off the longest serving Legislator in the United States, Senator Erpenbach stood and made a motion to adjourn. Under Senate rules, the motion to adjourn is a “priviledged motion.” It takes precedence over any other motion in place. This motion was not only ignored, Senator Ellis incorrectly announced that it does not take precedence over the role call vote (which it does, as it was motioned before the roll was called). Mike Ellis then gaveled through the vote, instructing the clerk to turn off the microphones for the Senators. After passage, Ellis proceeded to do a little victory dance in front of the podium. They have the votes – why violate the rules and make a mockery of the proceedings?
This behavior is reprehensible. Senator Ellis and the rest of the majority deserve all the scorn and denegration they will receive. Shame on them – they know better. Watch the video, and remember this day and their actions. Get out the vote, help educate, and help get them out of our house. For the record, Senator Ellis’ office had no comment for this article.