Tuesday, January 31, 2012

House Decorum

Civil Beat ran a story today about HB2751, a bill which proposes to "create the offense of disrespect of a house of the legislature for disorderly or contemptuous behavior by a person who is not a member of the legislature.

Civil Beat's question to Speaker Calvin Say was whether the intent of the bill was a reaction to the recent complaints by Mitch Kahle, the protester who is against the legislature holding invocations (what he considers unconstitutional prayer) at the capitol.  Kahle was arrested in the Senate chamber for disorderly conduct and was acquitted.  Kahle has subsequently sued the state and the Senate.

Speaker Say responded that the bill is not directed at any particular individual and is intended to provide clarification to existing House rules on the matter of disruption caused by any person.  Here is his full response:

HB 2751 is intended to assist in the maintenance of order and decorum during legislative sessions and committee hearings.  The bill applies to the disruption caused by any person, no matter the person's reason for the disruption or viewpoint on any issue.  It is not directed at any particular individual.

HB 2751 is a product of the House leadership's discussion of disruptions that occurred in the House and Senate chambers in the recent past.  During the discussion, House leadership and staff determined that the policies and procedures for keeping order in the House chambers and committee rooms during sessions and hearings may need clarification.  HB 2571 is intended to provide the clarification.

A companion bill, SB 3026, has been introduced in the Senate.

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