© 2017 by Kevin Stewart

Points of order from Tuesday: Germaneness and Captions

May 8, 2017

     There were two sustained points of order based on Rule 11, Section 2: The amendment is not germane to the bill (Handbook §3.6). The bill, SB 16, would reduce fees associated with obtaining and renewing handgun licenses. An amendment would have required handgun-license applicants to include in their affidavit a statement that the applicant owns a secure gun-storage device, such as a gun safe. The chair held that requiring a statement about gun safety is not germane to reducing fees for handgun licensure.

     On the same bill, and amendment would have exempted an applicant from fees if the license provided proof that a secure gun device had been purchased. Unlike the amendment above, this relates to the fees. Nevertheless, according to the Chair, "exempting a certain class of persons from fees is not germane to reducing the fee for an original or renewed license to carry a handgun."

     There were also two overruled points of order based on Rule 8, Section 1: The bill caption is inaccurate (Handbook § 2.2). The first related to subsection (b), which requires bills "that would impose, authorize, increase, or change the amount of a tax, assessment, surcharge or fee" to include a statement indicating such an effect. HB 3997 would expand the class of counties who may charge an increased fee. The chair held that "because the increase is not a certainty—it is possible for the fee to remain the same, to increase, or even decrease—such a caption would not necessarily be true." Therefore, as noted in a post earlier this session, it appears that a bill does not violate the caption rules if there is a mere potential for an affect.

     The second was based on subsection (c), which requires a statement in the caption of a bill that would "create a criminal offense, increase the punishment for an existing criminal offense." The bill, HB 913, would expand the conduct that constitutes a third degree felony offense by adding "improvised explosive device" to a list of prohibited weapons. The chair held that "adding an item to a list of items that are the subjects of an existing offense does not amount to expressly creating a new offense." In other words, criminalizing certain conduct does not necessarily mean that a bill creates a criminal offense for the purposes of Rule 8, Section 1(c). 

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