September 09, 2004
For the record
I join with Hope in unreservedly endorsing State Sen. Jeff Wentworth's to-be-filed proposal to force the official recording all legislative votes. It's appalling that bills can be passed or rejected by voice vote alone, and it's long past time someone took steps to ban it. See this Statesman editorial for more.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 09, 2004 to Show Business for Ugly People
I think it depends on the dynamics of the legislative body. The voice vote is a long-standing procedure that can give legislators the cover they need to do the right thing. For some legislatures at some times, it may not make sense; I can't speak for the Texas lege.
I don't know the specifics about this.
Is it to require roll calls on all legislation? Seems sensible enough but tradition has it that it is to be requested by a member. I'm a traditional kind of guy with procedure.
I hope it's not for all motions/amendments. That is gonna be a major pain in the butt.
I have to agree in part and disagree in part with Alkali. If you record every vote, then the lobbyists will have their thumb on every vote. If you don't, then we the people won't know what's going on. So there's the conflict. Do you really want a paper trail if it also serves as a leash for the big money boys?
But in my vast experience watching C-SPAN (tahee), usually there is a call for a recorded vote anytime the voice vote is even somewhat close (as in, 70-to-30), provided there's even somewhat passionate opposition. So I'm not sure that this is that big a deal anyways.
I'm with Kuff. While I sympathize with Alkali's argument, I have to counter that I haven't observed the Texas Lege going out of its way to do the right thing despite the flexibility of the voice vote in our state. Let's face facts - transparency and accountability are good things, even if they're a bit inconvenient at times. It might seem like a good idea to provide legislators with anonymity on politically unpopular votes, but the potential good is far outweighed by the potential for abuse, at least in my mind.
Jim D -
To clarify...the big deal is that I, as a constituent, have no way of knowing how my representative votes on issues important to me.
The lobbyists already have their thumb on the vote - they're in the galley watching 24/7 when the Lege is in session. Unfortunately, I can't be.
The DMN has been beating this drum for a while. There seems to be near-unanimous agreement on it. Except in the legislature. Go figure.