I left Madison at 6 AM Monday morning, heading to Montgomery for day 3; we went into session at 10 AM and began debate on the Legislative Redistricting plans – the primary reason we are in a Special Session. The Democrats had supposedly worked with Republican leadership and an agreement was made that if the Democrats could offer amendments to the redistricting plans, and they were allowed to be voted on, then they wouldn’t request that the bill be read at length.
Readers may ask, what’s the big deal with having a bill read at length? Well, for starters it is a delay tactic solely meant to run out the clock on a legislative day. A legislative rule exists allowing any bill to be read at length – meaning page for page, word for word. This is rarely requested and always used to delay the process. Some bills may take a few minutes to an hour to read however the redistricting bill is a 343 page bill and at about 3 min per page equals 1029 minutes…that’s approximately 17 hours. Thankfully we have an automated reader to do this for us; listen live here.
At about 8 PM as the Democrats had run out of amendments and alternative plans to offer and we were finally in position to vote on a plan a Democrat Senator made the motion – requesting the bill be read at length. Yup, just like Charlie Brown believed Lucy wouldn’t move the football, we believed the Democrats wouldn’t ask for the bill to be read at length. AAUGH!
What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Well, for starters the Special Session will now go at least one extra day. The minimum amount of days it takes a bill to become law is 5, we had planned on a 5 day special session. Now, because of the Democrats mischief, we will have to go 6 because we are taking 17 hours to have the bill read. More important – a legislative day in special session costs the taxpayers about $20,000 a day. Sure glad the Democrats think we have the extra money to extend the Special Session. I know better. To some, $20,000 may not be a lot of money in the big picture of a $1.5B budget. To me, $20,000 will always be a lot of money.
The plan for today is to continue with the reading of the bill, it should finish up between 7 - 8 PM tonight. At that point the Democrats will have run out of blocking tactics and we will have a vote on the redistricting plans. Good Government!