Representative Bryan Richey Proposed A Rule Change That Would Require All Votes In House Committee Hearings Be A Roll Call Vote, Instead Of The Current Voice Vote, Which Doesn’t Keep A Record Of How Representatives Vote In A Committee Hearing. Not One Democrat Or Republican On The Committee Voted In Favor.
Image: Pictured are the Republicans on the House Select Committee on Rules who effectively voted against a House Rule change that would have added transparency to the legislative process. Image Credit: Antony-22 / CC & capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –
Yesterday at 11 am, The House Select Committee On Rules met with those who presented proposals for rule changes in the Tennessee House of Representatives as they head into this new 113th legislative session.
Several representatives prepared rule changes for the committee’s review, both Democrat and Republican presenting their rule changes in hopes that the committee would approve some if not all.
Despite the presentations, some of which were extensive, (Justin Jones (D-D52-Nashville) had a proposal that included 17 rules changes), none of the proposals were approved or passed by the committee.
One particular rule change presented, which seemed to garner both democrat and republican support, if passed, would have provided expanded transparency in our government processes.
Representative Bryan Richey (R-D20-Maryville) presented a proposed rule change that would require all votes in House Committee Hearings be a roll call vote, instead of the current voice vote, which doesn’t keep an automatic record of how representatives vote in a committee hearing.
The proposal includes two specific language changes in the rules. In the sentence, “All votes constituting final action on any bill or resolution
may shall be by roll call vote or viva voce, except that the Committee on Calendar and Rules may vote viva voce.”
This is significant, because changing the language from “may” to “shall” within the context of legislation, removes an option and automatically invokes compulsion.
The option that would have existed, the viva voce, or voice vote is removed entirely. The exception provided would be just for the Committee on Calendar and Rules, primarily due to the function of that committee.
The reason this is important, according to those who support the change, is because then there is and will always be a record kept of which representatives voted and how, for each bill proposal.
As it is, additional steps have to be taken by either committee members, or the presenter of the bill to ensure a roll call vote is taken, or that any vote is added to the record.
The practice is already employed on the Senate side of The General Assembly, so the argument is that for full transparency in our state government processes, it would be prudent to include it in the House as well.
The rule change proposal was voted down in an overwhelming, and ironic, voice vote where neither Democrat or Republican on the committee voted in favor.
The Tennessee Conservative reached out to Representative Richey and asked for comment, who said, “Tennesseans from across the state on each side of political parties are asking for transparency. I am completely confused and disappointed as to why any elected official does not want their votes to be accurately reported each time.”
Local conservative grassroots responded via social media to the rejection of what was purported to be a positive change for transparency in Tennessee State government.
Populist conservative grassroots organization Tennessee Stands posted on X :
“ The amendment brought before the rules committee to ensure transparent voting in the TN House has FAILED.
Interestingly, Majority Leader William Lamberth who chaired the committee promised to take a roll call vote on the issue but took the voice vote instead stating that there was no need for roll call because the measure had not garnered enough support.
Lamberth further defended the voice vote process stating that all votes were already listed on the Capitol’s website (not true) and pushed back on Rep. Richey stating emphatically, “There’s no one up here who lacks courage…” insinuating that representatives would never hide behind the lack of transparency of a voice vote.
Rep. Gary Hicks further echoed that sentiment stating that under the current rules, he could cast a vote “without saying a word.” And apparently to Rep. Hicks, that makes perfect sense.
The Tennessee House is starting off the 2024 legislative session just as we’ve come to expect. They would rather setup rules that protect themselves than offering the people of Tennessee the kind of transparency and accountability they deserve.
This is called…corruption.”
As it stands, committee members voted down every change proposed by either Republicans or Democrats, except for an expansive caucus rules package that was presented to the committee by Republican Caucus Whip Johnny Garrett (R-D45-Goodlettsville).
It is worth noting, that in doing research for this article, the author was unable to locate the video recording of the live stream of yesterday’s meeting on the General Assembly website.
The members of the committee who voted down the rule change to expand transparency in government are:
Representative William Lamberth (Chair, R-D44-Portland)
Representative Karen Camper (D-D87-Memphis)
Representative Tandy Darby (R-D76-Greenfield)
Representative Jeremy Faison (R-D11-Cosby)
Representative Andrew Farmer (R-D17-Sevierville)
Representative Rusty Grills (R-D77-Newbern)
Representative Gary Hicks (R-D9-Rogersville)
Representative Darren Jernigan (D-D60-Old Hickory)
Representative Curtis Johnson (R-D68-Clarksville)
Representative Johnny Shaw (D-D80-Bolivar)
Representative Sam Whitson (R-D65-Franklin)
About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member. Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.