Live blogging from the floor…

4:35 p.m. We’re in the heart of the Restructuring Bill (H4620) debate.

The bill presented, before any amendments, would place the following offices on the ballot this November for YOU to determine whether to directly elect the offices (Adjutant General, Commissioner of Agriculture, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Education) or to have the Governor appoint.

So far…..we’ve had a few votes already taken.

By a vote of 53-52 we TABLED the amendment that would remove the Adjutant General from the bill. (That means right now, the Adjutant General would be on the Constitutional Amendment in November if the bill becomes law).

By a vote of 45-62 we REFUSED TO TABLE the amendment removing the Commissioner of Agriculture. Immediately after that (a formality reality since the vote just showed 17 vote difference) a voice-vote passed the amendment and therefore the Commissioner of Agriculture is now removed from the bill.

Next, we overwhelming supported the amendment to put the Governor and the Lt. Governor on the ballot together. The vote was 89-17. This means that this amendment will be added to the bill and if it becomes law, you’ll get to vote on this in November.

5:10 p.m. By a vote of 67-38 we tabled an amendment to remove the Superintendent of Education from the bill. (This means that if the bill becomes law, you will get to vote on whether to elect yourself or have the Governor appoint the position).

5:25 p.m. By a DIVISION vote (similar to roll-call but not recorded and shorter time to cast vote) of 50-29 we RESTORED the State Board of Education into the bill. As the bill was presented, should you have voted in November for the Superintendent of Education to be appointed, then the State Board of Education would have been abolished.

5:40 p.m.
By a vote of 64-43 we TABLED the amendment to add the Comptroller General to the bill. (That means that office is not added)

On a voice vote, we also tabled an amendment that would have lowered the age requirement for Lt. Governor from the present 30 years of age to the age of 23. Fortunately, Representative Rex Rice indicated during the debate that in the event the Governor was not able to continue to serve, we would then be in an unconstitutional situation because the age requirement to govern our state is 30 years of age.

By a vote of 41-63 we voted against another amendment to remove the Adjutant General from the bill.

6:00 p.m. Okay….if I haven’t put you to sleep yet….see if you can follow this…..by a vote of 80-25 we voted to take up the Adjutant General amendment again but immediately after that, the amendment was ruled out of order because it was a duplicative amendment to a previous one. By a vote of 82-23 we REFUSED to table the motion to reconsider the amendment that was defeated earlier today that would have removed the Adjustant General from the bill (whew…mouthful there…are you confused yet?). Then we immediately voted 74-28 to reconsider that amendment again (formality really after the vote moments ago). Now….once again we are voting the reconsider the tabling motion hours ago (that was tabled 53-52).

If you’re wondering what’s happening….apparently the Adjutant General portion of this bill is a “poison pill”. Meaning….if this remains on the bill, there’s a greater chance the bill would ultimately die in the House or Senate.

So….just now we voted 21-85 AGAINST TABLING the amendment that would remove the Adjutant General and then immediately afterwards we voted by VOICE VOTE adopt the amendment that would remove the Adjutant General from this bill.

Isn’t politics great?

We’ll soon have the final vote on the bill as amended….stay tuned.

6:15 p.m.
Because this bill is a constitutional amendment, it requires approval from two-thirds of the body (that means 83 members must support the bill).

The final vote….drum roll, please….83 in favor 24 against.

The Restructuring Bill gets third reading tomorrow….BARELY passing the muster today. So if you’re keeping score at home, here’s what the House will send to the Senate next week –

A restructuring bill which would allow the voters of our state to determine whether to continue electing the following offices OR allowing the Governor to appoint the positions: Secretary of State and Superintendent of Education. We also will continue to have the State Board of Education even if the Superintendent is appointed.

I hope this live-blogging provides some insight to the innerworkings of legislation being debated and passed. I hope to be able to periodically blog from the floor and keep sunshine on the process.