(WHTM) – The state house had a rare session on Thursday and an even rare 8 a.m. start time that is on the heels of a late night last night.
Voices were raised and tensions were high as amendments were added to a bill that would’ve moved next year’s primary to March 19, but it got bogged down.
And, as abc27 reports, lawmakers got ticked off.
Midnight madness is what Republicans call it. Substantive changes to election law were introduced as amendments at the last minute, late Wednesday night.
Representative Ryan Warner (R-Fayette) said, “What’s happening now? What happened tonight on this floor is an insult to democracy.”
The frustration was still palpable Thursday morning.
“I had 3 minutes notice to review an amendment that overhauls our election system,” said Warner.
Most objectionable to the GOP is a change to mail-in ballots. People who request them would permanently get them and not have to re-apply.
Warner said, “There are instances where dead people would get ballots that people could fill them in, and mail them.
“We want to make voting easier. We want to make it more flexible for people, but also making sure that we have safeguards in place,” said Representative Jordan Harris (D-Appropriations Committee Chair.)
Most Republicans expressed outrage. Representative Paul Schemel (R-Franklin) expressed himself.
Schemel said, “Only 15 minutes to midnight from midnight while you at home are asleep democrats are here on their feet passing election changes for you.”
Hours of melody and malcontent led to the vote and the clock striking midnight.
“The yeas are 26. The nays are 177 – – The bill fails.”
Republicans called it a failure of Democrat leadership.
Representative Bryan Cutler (R-Minority Leader) said, “You don’t come to the floor as majority leader and only get 27 votes for a bill and you don’t come to the floor simply to fail.”
Harris voted no. But noted Democrats passed a tax code bill and school code bill and moved the budget process forward. Though critics say they weren’t negotiated with Senate Republicans.
Harris said, “When did we change the standard that we could only pass legislation that we know the Senate is going to pass?”
So the grand game of legislative tennis continues. The House passes a bunch of bills, many of them controversial. That’s them over here to the Senate, where their future is very uncertain.
As for moving next year’s primary to March 19, that is now unclear and increasingly seems unlikely