© 2017 by Kevin Stewart

New Rule 4, Section 18 clarification

April 25, 2017

     On Thursday, Representative Stickland called a point of order based on Rule 4, Section 18(b): the committee minutes are incomplete (Section 4.3 of the Handbook). The witness filled out two cards. On the first she spelled her last name incorrectly and wrongly noted that she did not want to testify; on the second she corrected those errors. 
     The chair made two clarifications. First, the notation on the form "of the witness's initial intent to testify (or not testify) does not limit the courses of action open to a witness who has changed her mind." To support this holding, the chair used precedent from a similar example, however the witness only filled out one form, saying that they would not testify, and then testified. 83 H.J. Reg. 1890 (2013). The chair also used precedent from an overruled point of order on a committee report that showed the witness as neutral, when the witness actually testified in support of the bill. The chair in that journal entry stated "the purpose of the form is to swear the witnesses and provide information that would permit contacting the witness."
     Second, Stickland argued that, because the name of the witness was misspelled, a witness with that name never testified. The chair responded that points of order are not sustained on typographical errors. See 78 H.J. Reg. 2717 (2003); 78 H.J. Reg. 3981 (2003). Further, the chair has consistently declined to use electronic recordings of a committee meeting as a basis of a point of order. See 84 H.J. Reg. 3089-3090 (2015); 82 H.J. Reg. 1734 (2011).
     The important takeaway was the following statement: "Here, both of Amanda Herron's entries are consistent in reflecting that she was in favor of the bill, thereby satisfying the purpose of Rule 4, Section 18(b)." It follows that two cards with conflicting positions would deceive or mislead, and the point of order would be sustained.

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