After reading yesterday’s story about Marc Lombardo and Jim Lyons fighting for Members’s Rights on the House Floor during informal sessions, you may ask yourself, what’s the big deal? Only uncontroversial bills are supposed to pass during informal session.
The problem is that over the past 10 months three bills advanced during informal session that warranted the full house acting with a roll call. Here are those bills you can judge for yourself.
On October 9, 2012 during an informal session, where one person could have stopped it, a bill was passed requiring all eateries to have at least one employee on duty at all times with first aid training. This added a burdensome regulation to small businesses, many of whom were exempted before this bill passed. It added costs to these businesses. The bill never should have passed in an informal session, and the Republican Leadership Office allowed it to pass without objection.
Coffee shops, bistros, and so-called holes in the wall will no longer be allowed to skirt a state health regulation if a bill passed by the Massachusetts House Tuesday becomes law.
The bill would close a loophole that exempts restaurants with fewer than 25 seats from a state law that requires such businesses to have someone on site who is trained in the procedures for removing food lodged in someone’s throat, said state Representative Ruth Balser, Democrat of Newton.
Dave Andleman of the Restaurant and Business Alliance explained the bills ramifications.
“With the Massachusetts hospitality industry losing 7,000 jobs in the last 3 months, we should not add more costs to our small businesses,” David Andelman, alliance president, said in a statement.
“While we applaud the good intention of this bill, it is not fair that this vague bill burdens any businesses with liability for something beyond their control,” Andelman said.
More after the Jump
The second piece of legislation which passed in informal session was a $4B spending bill. This happened on June 20, 2013 and can be seen in this PDF of the Journal from that day. The bill was H 3523. The Republican Leadership Office allowed $4B to be spent without objecting.
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the amount of $4,075,000,000 is hereby appropriated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, to meet necessary expenditures before the enactment of the general appropriation act for that fiscal year, for the maintenance and operations of the various departments, boards, commissions, and institutions, including federal grant and Intragovernmental Service Fund expenditures, for other necessary services, and for meeting certain requirements of law. This appropriation shall cease to be operative as of the effective date of the general appropriation act, and all actions taken under this section shall apply against that general appropriation act. All expenditures made under this section shall be consistent with appropriations made in the general appropriation act.
Lets put that in perspective, $4B for 30 days.
The final action was on June 17, 2013 when Democrats changed the rules of the House to set a very short time for amendments to the budget to be filed. As this was an informal the Republican Leadership Office could have objected and preserved a longer timeframe.
These three events are why the conservative caucus has started attending informal sessions. To ensure that these sorts of things don’t happen again. This is what they are fighting against.