With a legislative deadline looming for Wednesday, the House of Delegates moved Monday to bring bills held up in committee onto the floor. Some of those motions were successful, but one bill -- which has been notable throughout the session -- failed to move forward.
Wednesday is Crossover Day, a deadline for bills to have passed their chamber of origin. With that in mind, delegates offered motions to forego committee references and advance bills that have been caught up in committee.
'Tim Tebow Bill'
Republican Del. Joe Ellington moved to discharge House Bill 3127 from committee and bring it to the floor. That proposal, known as the “Tim Tebow” bill, would allow home school students to participate in extracurricular activities of secondary public schools.
“This has been something we've been working on for the past several years. It went to the governor two years ago and was vetoed. The corrections on that were made over that time," Ellington said. "I feel that it's something that could not get out of the Education Committee, but something that the body did vote on previously."
Del. John Doyle, D-Jefferson, argued that the motion to discharge House Bill 3127 violated the spirit of the House’s rules.
“The purpose of the availability to discharge a bill is in the case a committee chair sits on a bill and refuses to put it on the agenda. There have been several times in the session when what's called the EHNDA bill -- the employment and housing non-discrimination bill -- has been subject to this motion and has been rejected in that case. It's been sitting in the same committee literally for years,” Doyle said. “In this case [of House Bill 3127], the Education Committee has seriously discussed and debated this bill and is still in the process of doing so. For that reason, I think it would be a corruption of the rules of the House to pass this motion."
Ellington’s motion was adopted on a voice vote and the bill was read a first time -- putting it on pace to pass the House by the Wednesday deadline.
Human Rights Act Additions Left Tabled
Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, sought to take steps to do the same with House Bill 2733. That measure would add “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to West Virginia’s Human Rights Act.
A motion to discharge the bill had been tabled weeks ago. Since then, House Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to get the measure to the floor. The measure was also double referenced, leaving Pushkin’s motion the first in a series of steps that would be needed to get the measure to the floor.
The first step in that effort Monday -- to untable the original motion to discharge House Bill 2733 -- was rejected, 37-60.
But other lawmakers proved to be more successful in their efforts to bring bills to the floor.
War Declaration Language
After successfully untabling a discharge motion from last week, Del. Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, moved to discharge House Bill 2732 from committee. The bill seeks to require a Congressional declaration of war before the state’s National Guard could be deployed overseas.
“This bill is seeks to rectify this grave application and deviation from constitutional law over the past 75 years -- where the Congress has abdicated its duty to the executive. And we have gone to war on a whim continually,” McGeehan said.
The motion to discharge House Bill 2732 was adopted on a 56-41 vote and the bill was read a first time. With that motion adopted, the measure’s livelihood is less in jeopardy.
With Ellington and McGeehan’s efforts proving successful and the motion to advance the LGBTQ rights bill still tabled, Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, asked lawmakers to take note of what they allowed to stand a chance before Crossover Day and what is likely to be left behind.
“I would just like to note that on Monday, February the 25th we just now discharged bills on the defense [of the National] Guard and Tim Tebow. That's okay. But we did not want to debate civil rights for everybody. Understand what we just did,” Hornbuckle said.