On April 8, HB2181 passed out of the Senate Rules Committee. Unfortunately, the Senate Rules Committee took the route of cowards and amended the bill by changing the 1% petition to a 3% petition. They did keep the language that removed the presidential elections from the calculation.
This is unfortunate because the Senate has pulled this maneuver every time ballot access reform has been introduced. The goal of making these changes is to 1) force the bill to go to a conference committee where the bill can quietly die. 2) claim that they passed ballot access reform but be able to pass the buck to the House, who is more willing to pass real reform, when the bill fails to pass conference when the House stands its ground.
The good news is that the amendment was not passed unanimously. There were at least two no votes on the amendment but possibly more. The Rules Chair, Senator Justice, held a voice vote and determined the votes in favor of the amendment to be the winning vote. It would have been preferable to have a roll vote, but it was not our choice.
The bill finally passed out of the committee on a vote of 11-1 with the loan no vote coming from Senator Floyd. When asked for comment on her no vote, Senator Floyd responded that she voted against the bill because it was not the bill the House passed. Had the bill not been amended, she would have voted for it.
We are working on finding out more information on who voted against the amendment and will report when we know more. Until then, we are working on finding out if we can get a floor amendment introduced when the bill comes up for a vote with the full senate. We would like to see if we can get the original 1% language put back on the bill.
We don’t know how receptive the Senate Leadership will be to a floor amendment of this nature. Chances are, they will not bring it up or it will be voted down but it needs to be brought up. Again, we will let you know when we have more information.