Mike Ellis, Republicans conduct in passage of Voter ID – proof of fear, arrogance, abuse of power

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.

4 thoughts on “Mike Ellis, Republicans conduct in passage of Voter ID – proof of fear, arrogance, abuse of power

  1. “Beyond reproach” means “so good that it cannot be criticized”. You didn’t intend this meaning, obviously.

    In the interest of education, what is the rule about scheduled testimony and limitations on debate? If “the Senate” (a majority, of its legislators, I assume) had in place a rule or some kind of agreement or decision that debate on the issue would end at 11:00, would any legislator (Dem or Repub) have been cut off at 11:00?

    Don’t get me wrong — I agree that there is no excuse for Ellis’ behavior, for Leibham’s behavior, for the contents of this bill — but an objective reader can’t just gloss over the background facts. This nagging question is evident: were the Dems continuing a debate beyond a legitimate time limit? And can a motion to adjourn be made in the middle of a roll call — i.e., even though it’s “privileged”, can it be heard after the proceedings being conducted pursuant to a prior motion have begun?

    I suspect (only suspect) that the Repubs were procedurally and technically correct — unlike their behavior in several prior instances — and I find it disturbing that the complete story is not being told anywhere. Granted, again, the “real story” here is the monstrous bill and the abuse of power in getting it enacted and the shameful Ellis display — none of which are beyond reproach. But, it seems to me, the most (lasting) effective argument is one that can attack the opponent’s position head on…

    Except in the forum of mass political movements, apparently. Feingold’s “high ground” position, of not stooping to the level of Repubs’ superPACs, is difficult to sell to political pragmatists who know that publicized messages should fit on a bumper sticker.

    Is it possible, then, when reporting on the outrageous acts of one party, that we will ever hear the other party say, for example: “True, the time limit had expired, and speakers were not complying with that rule, but the majority should not have instituted the time limit on such a controversial bill…”?

    • Great questions, Nancy. If you watch the session from the beginning, the dems did attempt to have the time limit rescinded – the motion, of course, failed. As far as the cutting off question – based on the rule they had in place, it is up to the President (or presiding officer – Ellis in this case) – who, as he stated at the beginning of the session, could have extended time for an additional 15 minutes. I am certain the time would have been extended for a majority member – and usually is, out of courtesy, to allow someone to sufficiently conclude their remarks, regardless of party. As for the motion to adjourn – it is clear from the video that Senator Erpenbach rose and motioned to adjourn BEFORE the announcement to call the roll. In fact, he did so immediately after Ellis halted debate, speaking over Sen Risser.
      Hope that clarifies – it helps to see the actual video. There is no doubt the bill was going to pass – it is the conduct of the majority that is in question and reprehensible. BTW, thanks for the grammar lesson, I meant to use “reprehensible”. Thanks as always for commenting.

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