House Dems Say Rule Change Will Have “Chilling Effect” on Opposing Views

Jan 14, 2013

Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.
Credit Photo Courtesy of Georgia General Assembly

Today, during the first day of legislative session, a near supermajority of House Republicans approved a rule change aimed at streamlining debate over legislation.

In the past, if a bill made it out of committee, an individual committee member could formally state opposition by filing a minority report.

The report automatically set aside 20 minutes for that committee member to go before the entire House chamber and summarize their opposition.

The rule change, which was passed along party lines, restricts individual committee members from filing a minority report. Filing will now require a majority of the opposition in a committee.  

Stacey Abrams, the top ranking Democrat in the House, said it would have a “chilling effect” on members of the minority.

“We’re not going to be able to change the debate, we’re not going to be able to change the bill, but certainly the role of the minority is to be the voice of the opposition and that voice should be given, I think, unfettered access to the very few levers that are available,” said Abrams.

Speaking before the chamber, Majority Leader Larry O’Neal said if bill opponents can’t find a majority in a committee, they can still file for time to speak once the legislation reaches the full chamber.

"A single objector to a proposition in a bill always has the right to register and speak in opposition to a bill which will thereafter be archived on the records in this House, even on video, so I don't know [the rule change] is that limiting...except it may lessen the time that someone has," said O'Neal.