House approves tattoo bill (without abortion amendment)
Gadi Dechter reports this morning that the House of Delegates unanimously approved a bill that would require parental approval for minors to get tattoos or body piercings. Seems pretty simple, but it became a major political hot potato this week when Del. Gail Bates, a HoCo Republican, tried to amend the legislation on the House floor in a way that would have made it also apply to abortion. The logic: Isn't abortion a bit more significant than piercing your nose?
House Speaker Mike Busch ruled the amendment out of order, saying it violated the "single subject rule," which requires that legislation address one topic only. That's a rule that is generally flexible when the party in charge wants it to be and strict when it doesn't. In this case, there's little chance that the House of Delegates would have approved a parental consent for abortion amendment, but allowing debate about it would have not only sidetracked the chamber for a time but would also have forced delegates to take a public position on something many of them would rather not. It's the kind of vote that's tailor-made for campaign attacks.
The GOP has been none too pleased with this turn of events. In the House Republican Caucus' blog, they write:
After a complex series of parliamentary maneuvers, the Speaker and the majority manipulated the rules of the House, taking advantage of superior numbers to do so, in order to stifle debate and avoid a vote.
Given the fact that the majority party has sufficent votes to kill any amendment, what is the harm in allowing free and open debate on an issue as important as the health and safety of minors? One has to wonder what exactly they are afraid of.