HOW JEFF WORKS
This is just a tidbit about Jefferson City process -- that will be no news to lawmakers or the Capitol regulars. But it just might just raise an eyebrow with Joe Public.
During one of the rolling debates this week on how best to use federal stimulus money, St. Louis Rep. Rachel Storch introduced an amendment to take around $12 million dollars and plug it into the financially strapped METRO system. The debate over the merits of that proposal is really beside the point. The procedure is what is at issue here. After a hearty amount of inquiries from Republican lawmakers, a voice vote was called on the Storch amendment. There were lots of loud "AYES" -- and just as many, or possibly even more "NOs." No question it was close. But Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt called it for the AYES, without a flinch. No second-guessing. No roll call. The "AYES" had it . . . or did they? You see, we'll never know. Because on this vote, there was no way any one in the chamber could know for sure which side had more votes. But this, I was told, was nothing new. It's common. "The Chair calls the vote however he wants it called -- no matter what the voice is," explained Rep. Sara Lampe. That's why lawmakers usually ask for "roll call" votes, to get people on the record and to mark down an actual tally. Voice votes seem fine on non-controversial items, but this was not one of them. Can you imagine if we elected our lawmakers via voice vote rather than a tally? Just show up at the American Legion and your supporters can shout as loud as they can. The "Chair" calls it. That's the power of the majority. As Lampe put it, "when you're in the majority, you can do anything you want."
*WATCH LAMPE'S EXPLANATION ABOVE*