[StBernard] Who's pushing the buttons?

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Fri Jun 27 23:52:39 EDT 2008

This is nothing new. During the years I served as a legislative assistant
during session I commonly witnessed this. Once I believe I pissed off
another legislator when I refuesed after he asked me to push a vote button
for another legislator who had stepped outside the House chamber. But, this
was just me...all to often you saw non-legislators (staff) sitting in the
reps chair and pushing his/her machine as well as other legislators.

I recall one of my first days up at the capital, I was sitting in the House
chamber when State Rep. Warren Triche (from Thibodaux) came up to me and
introduced himself. He saw I reading a copy of the House Rules. He leaned
over and pointed out the section where there are bullet points on the
"Cannot do.." and humorously told me "ahh, you can igonore those." And he
was right, they were commonly ignored.

The article does correctly point out about legislators during a vote
requesting a quorum or lock out vote. Boy, did that piss off a lot of
legislators...they hated that because it forced them to stop b.s.ing out in
the lobby and run back into the chamber to pay attention. These particular
legislators didn't like being interrupted when being worked by lobbyist -
guess it cut into their scheduling a free lunch or something.

Former House Speaker Hunt Downer (now General Downer of the La. National
Guard) ran a pretty tight ship when it came to such b.s. - and of course
many legislators resented him for that, but I always admired that about him.
Anyway, the quorum call or lock out vote was often effective and still is.

John Scurich

-----Original Message-----
Unbelievable! Click on the link on the right "Legislators voting in others'
absence" to see the video.


Who's pushing the buttons?

Posted: June 25, 2008 06:06 PM CDT

Updated: June 25, 2008 06:18 PM CDT
By Caroline Moses

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - You might still be angry about the pay raise
legislators gave themselves and another circumstance we've come across may
irk you, too. 9NEWS has learned some legislators voted on two, three, or
even four machines at a time during this session because other legislators
were not in the chamber. Some of them were not even in the state.

We saw Representative Barbara Norton of Shreveport pushing not one, not two,
but three machines on one vote. Then, she directs Representative Rickey
Hardy of Lafayette to catch another one she can't quite reach. This practice
of pushing other legislators' buttons is not new. "They used to do it with
golf clubs and a putter and things like that. Now, they have more
sophisticated clubs to push the buttons," says Barry Erwin with the Council
for a Better Louisiana.

However, if a member is outside the Capitol building, it is against House
rules. "I don't think anyway can defend having a legislator not in the
building, not at work, may be not even in the state or city, having people
vote for their machines," says Erwin. Representative Reed Henderson of
Chalmette called in to WWL-Radio from his car on Friday. He was on his way
back home while legislators were still in session and somehow, his votes
kept coming in, without him there. Henderson is not the only one who does
this. We have confirmed that at least one legislator was not even in the
state when his buttons were pressed and pressed and pressed.

"There is an expectation that your legislator is going to be there casting
votes for you if you're a citizen. If votes cast and legislators not there,
kind of like defrauding public in a lot of ways," Erwin says. The House
rules state that if a member is not present at the Capitol, they are
supposed to have the clerk turn off their machine, so no one else votes on
it. Yet, it's completely up to the legislator whether or not they choose to
do that. "The point is you should be there. You should be listening to the
debate and you should understand what's going on and you should be pushing
your own buttons," says Erwin.

Maybe if seeing all this pushes your buttons, legislators will stop
stretching their sticks beyond the rules. If a particularly important vote
is about to take place, legislators can call for a quorum vote or a
lock-out. That's when they are specifically told to vote only their machine.
Otherwise, there are no real consequences if a legislator pushes multiple
buttons. Tell us what you think about the multiple voting that goes on.

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