Re-redisctricting bill: not germane

SpeakerHowellSpeaker of the House William Howell ruled today that the Senate amendments to House Bill 259 were not germane, thus killing the bill.

The ruling came after the speaker gave some history on the concept of germaneness, explaining it as a basic parliamentary principle. The speaker referred to a predecessor of his who interpreted the germaneness as being, “whatever I say it is.” Quite the contrary, the speaker said, “I’m not going to be inconsistent,” referring to earlier rulings of his in which he refused to allow a proposition with a narrow scope to be amended to include a broader, albeit related, scope.

Saying that HB259 had “been modified dramatically,” the speaker ruled that “the senate amendments are not germane and are out of order.”

My thanks to Speaker Howell for his interpretation of the rule, especially for his remarks about the integrity of the institution.

UPDATE: Here are the remarks of Speaker Howell as released by his office:

Statement of Speaker William J. Howell on Senate Amendments to House Bill 259


RICHMOND, VA — Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) released the following statement Wednesday on Senate Amendments to House Bill 259:

“Today, Senate Amendments to House Bill 259 were brought before the Virginia House of Delegates. A point of order was raised on the germaneness of those amendments. As Speaker of the House, it is my responsibility to make rulings on such questions when they arise.

“The Senate Amendments presented were not germane to the original legislation. House Bill 259, as unanimously passed by the House of Delegates last year, made technical adjustments to House legislative districts. The amendments offered by the Senate, however, made substantive and far-reaching changes to Senate legislative district lines.

“As Speaker, I have consistently ruled amendments or substitute legislation which significantly departs from, changes or alters the purpose and intent of the original legislation as non germane, in accordance with the rules of the House of Delegates.

“While I respect the prerogative of the Senate and its members to deal with issues before that body, this legislation is in violation of House rules and the principles by which I have lead this body over the last 10 years.

“This is not a decision I made lightly. I am committed to upholding the honor and traditions of both the office of Speaker, the institution as a whole and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“It is my hope today that we can refocus on the issues facing the Commonwealth. Jobs, K-12 Education and transportation will require all of our attention and energy over the final weeks of this legislative session.”


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