Rules change on amendment: No movement today | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rules change on amendment: No movement today

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 1:53 PM

No action today in the Senate on an effort by the nursing home lobby and other supporters of "tort reform" to change the procedural rules to clear the way for a constitutional amendment to make it harder and less rewarding to sue for damages.

As I noted yesterday, there's been a holdup of Senate-approved rules for the joint committee process that was established two years by the House and Senate to come to a consensus on three proposed constitutional amendments for the 2016 election ballot.

The joint rules require a two-thirds vote to pull a measure out of committee for approval if an amendment can't get the majority vote required from both the Senate and House contingents. Problems are expected on tort reform because four of the eight Senate committee members are Democrats and believed disinclined to back the nursing home/chamber of commerce interests in capping lawsuit damages or stripping the Supreme Court of civil lawsuit rulemaking authority.

If there are no joint rules approved, there will be no joint committee on amendments. Then the old process would apply. The House and Senate would individually approve three amendments. Only those approved by both chambers could go to the ballot. But, if the Senate committee wouldn't approve a tort reform measure, the Republican-controlled Senate could, by a simply majority vote, pull the measure from a regular committee, as opposed to a joint committee.

This is considered a violation of custom to avoid the committee system, but it is sometimes done when needs demand. And the chamber of commerce and nursing homes are demanding.

A couple of hanging questions:

* Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson's opposition to tort reform measures in 2013 killed a ballot initiative last go-round. His position this time isn't yet clear.

* The Democrats carry little weight, but they still have enough votes to muster a blockade to appropriation bills. Will they finally decide playing nice doesn't produce much and use that leverage against power plays such as this one?

Lobbying is fierce.

I believe a clearer idea of what law changes are desired will be necessary before the rules dispute is resolved.

Tags: , , ,

Sign up for the Daily Update email


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Women's March planned in Arkansas to mark Trump inauguration

    Speaking of Donald Trump and in answer to a reader's question: There will be a women's march in Arkansas on Jan. 21, the day after inauguration, as well as the national march planned in Washington.
    • Dec 30, 2016
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation