The Education Opportunity Act came up before the full House on Wednesday. However, before we could debate the merits of the bill, 16 Republicans joined with 44 Democrats to table the bill. The vote was 60 to 59.
The problem with the tabling motion, other than it was made by a Republican, was that it prevented debate. In other words, 60 elected Representatives decided that they did not want to hear, nor allow the public to hear, any benefits of the legislation. More importantly, they did not want public discussion regarding the status of our k-12 public education system.
As a member of the majority party, I have voted “cloture” on the Democrats during debate. Cloture limits the time that a bill can be debated – an hour from each side. While limiting the time, it does not limit information. Furthermore, cloture is rarely used and only after we have suffered through several hours of debate. Contrast cloture with the tabling motion that killed debate on the education bill after only ten minutes.
Ten minutes was all the attention that 16 Republicans could grant to 58 of their Republican colleagues who wanted the debate. (Note that one lone Democrat voted against tabling the bill). Ten minutes was all the time given to hear information on a bill that was nine months in the making. Ten minutes was all of the courtesy that 16 Republicans could give to 40 of their Republican colleagues who had co-sponsored the bill.
The fact that the Democrats did not want to debate the status of our education system does not surprise me. Their actions reflect the reason why they are the minority party – they have no ideas to present and have a vested interest in the failing status quo.
The actions of the 16 Republicans are . . . ? You decide.
As a legislative body, we have no hope of solving the problems in our state or even protecting a free society without debate.