When I wrote the first part of this series, I accused the DFL of attempting to stifle debate. I noted that Rep. Erin Murphy, the House Majority Leader, was lying in justifying the DFL’s tactics:
“The floor debate is where Minnesotans have the least amount of access,” Murphy said. “When amendments are being drafted on the floor and then debated on the floor, it’s hard for representatives to be able to talk to constituents and get answers to questions as to what it means.”
Since I published the first post of this series, I’ve spoken with a number of GOP legislators, all of whom verified that the DFL’s rules change would stifle debate. One legislator confirmed that he’s received input from his constituents during floor debates. That’s why he considers his laptop essential equipment for floor debates.
Since Monday morning, though, I’ve found out more about the DFL’s proposed rule change. What they’re proposing is that, after the GOP has filed their motions 24 hours in advance, the DFL can file “an amendment to amend the amendment.” The DFL would then use that tactic to gut the GOP’s amendments most popular amendments so vulnerable DFL legislators wouldn’t have to cast difficult votes in the hope of hanging onto their seats in 2014.
In addition to gutting the GOP’s amendments to protect their legislators, the DFL’s rules changes would essentially gut the GOP’s ability to represent their constituents. The thing that’ll bite the DFL in the backside on this, though, is that the DFL won’t be able to explain how their gutting the GOP’s amendments strengthened the legislation. The DFL won’t be able to hide the fact that the DFL is pushing an unpopular agenda.
Yes, it’s unpopular. If the DFL’s agenda had widespread support, they’d welcome robust debate. The stronger the legislation, the better they’d look.
This isn’t the first time that the DFL majority has attempted to stifle debate. The truth is that they’re gutless wimps who don’t have the confidence to debate their legislation on the merits. That’s their right…for now.