Posted by Craig McDermott, cross-posted from Random Musings
Quick update from the special session…
The Republican railroad squeaked a little today, but their drive to put an anti-union amendment to the AZ Constitution on November's ballot is still on track.
Today, they held the Committee of the Whole, or COW, sessions on the matching bills that are before the House and Senate. COW is where bills can be amended from the floor and actual debate takes place. During the final vote (aka "Third Read") on a bill, no amendments are allowed and the only "debate" is various members "rising to explain" their votes.
During today's Senate COW session on special session SCR1001, Senator Meg Burton Cahill proposed an amendment to the SCR that would have guaranteed workers the right bring someone with them when an employer tries to "discuss" union activity with the worker. It would have prevented the one-on-one intimidation by employers that usually takes place during workplace organizing efforts.
When her amendment was voted down (sad to say, but not a surprise there), Sen. Burton Cahill tried to request a roll call vote on the matter. During COW, a roll call vote is allowed (upon request)* but is not required. Generally, all matters are decided by a voice vote.
In contrast, all Third Read votes are required by the state constitution to be roll calls.
*Technically, a roll call vote on a COW matter takes place immediately after COW when the legislative body is back in regular session, but I'm trying not to get too technical here. 🙂
Perhaps recognizing that such a recorded vote could only hurt their members, the Senate's Republican leadership (if it really can be called such) used the time-dishonored tactic of pretending to not see the request.
Even though Sen. Burton Cahill had pushed the call button on her desk, notifying Senate President Bob Burns that she wanted to speak.
Even though the Senate Democrats' attorney was at the dais to make sure that they knew that Sen. Burton Cahill had something to say.
At first, I thought perhaps the Rs' move was intended to hide the fact that they didn't have the necessary 16 votes present needed to pass anything, but a call to the Senate's Rules Attorney confirmed that the 16-vote threshold only exists during Third Read votes. All other roll call votes require just a majority of the members present.
While not all of the Rs were present (Antenori, Tibshraeny, and Carolyn Allen, and possibly one or two others were out), they still had a majority of members present. Since no final passage votes were going to take place today, the lack of 16 votes didn't impact anything.
It looks like today's lack of transparency, like yesterday's refusal by House Commerce Chair Rep. Michele Reagan to read the names of those who signed in in support of/opposition to the proposed amendment (and Senate Judiciary chair Sen. Chuck Gray did so in the Senate only after being shamed into by the Democratic members of the committee), was all about minimizing public attention and political damage to the R members of the Senate over their activities on behalf of Big Business and their lobbyists.
Most of the public activity is completed for the day, though there will be a meeting of the Joint Committee on Capital Review at 1:30 p.m. in SHR109. It is a regular meeting, not associated with the special session.
Edit to add…
Just received a press release from the AZ Senate Democrats.
From the press release –
“In the Senate, we have rules of procedure and these rules should be abided by in order to keep the process fair and diligent,” said Burton Cahill. “By ignoring the light, the Senate President circumvents the stated rules of procedure. I verbally asked to be recognized and was still denied the opportunity to make a motion. If it was a matter of the Senate President overlooking the light, he should have taken corrective action and allowed me to speak. If he saw the light and ignored it, that action is an abuse of our own rules.”