Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stalling Anti-Immigrant Measure

In Austin, TX, the liberals are using a stalling tactic to get anti-immigrant wingers to the table to negotiate on voter ID proposals. In a modification of filibustering, the Dems are talking endlessly on non-controversial bills to waste time.

While the wingers stew, many sponsors of bills that are time sensitive are working to get the voter ID issue out of the way and get on to the business the legislature needs to get done.

Talkative House Democrats used stalling tactics Friday to prevent passage of a voter identification bill they oppose that's scheduled for debate this weekend.

Democrats — who'd warned they would put up a fight to stop the voter ID measure — began talking at length on non-controversial legislation to use up the clock as soon as the day's schedule began. The Legislature adjourns June 1, and a number of bill passage deadlines are arriving in the next few days.

Democrats later pushed to bring up bills out of order so that major legislation would not be jeopardized. Republicans refused and the House continued into the long night of stalling.

The Senate already passed a Republican-pushed bill requiring voters to show a photo ID or two non-photo ID alternatives when they cast a ballot. Democrats say that would prevent people without those forms of identification from voting and suppress turnout. If Democrats are going to stop the legislation, it will have to be in the House, where the chamber is almost evenly divided by party.

Veteran Rep. Delwin Jones, R-Lubbock, said Democratic opponents of the voter ID bill were trying to pressure fellow lawmakers to negotiate the legislation, in turn threatening scores of unrelated bills. The delay tactic, using the rules to eat up time, is known as "chubbing."

"In lieu of the filibuster, the House chubs," Jones said. "It keeps a lot of bills from being considered, which puts a lot of pressure on the members who have bills they want to pass."

Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, leader of the House Democrats, said members of his party were willing to compromise on key legislation but would continue to use parliamentary maneuvers to keep the voter ID bill off the House floor.

"We're not being obstructionists. We're not killing any bills. We're not breaking quorum," Dunnam said. "We're trying to get the House's priorities back in order."

Interestingly, the obstructionism that the wingnuts have used to keep the country from promoting public interests in this case is working in the public's favor. It took a runaway Democratic faction to keep the legislature from redistricting a few years back. If that tactic had succeeded, the public would have better lawmakers and better laws, a result the Gang of Nope just can't stand.

Hopefully, the wingers will take another look at their priorities, and let a little public interest prevail for a change. When working with ideologically hidebound elements such as exist in the flyover lands, sometimes reason is just counter-productive and makes them mad.

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