The Possibly Unconstitutional Failure to Discharge HJR-NN in the Michigan House of Representatives

Doug Dante May 19, 2009 The Speaker of the House was almost certainly aware of or involved in the possibly unconstitutional handling of Rep. Stahl's motion to discharge HJR-NN, a joint resolution to put before the voters a parent's rights amendment. At the time of these events, HJR-NN had approximately 80 sponsors, or more than 72% of the 110 members of the Michigan House of Representatives. Information on the amendment is here: The purpose of HJR-NN was: “A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution of 1963, by adding section 27 to article I, to declare the fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children.“ Rather than putting the motion before the entire House, as required by the Michigan Constitution, the speaker allowed the Judiciary committee to kill Representative Stahl's motion to discharge HJRNN, in a move which may have violated both Michigan's Constitution and Michigan House Rules. " Rep. Stahl moved that the Committee on Judiciary be discharged from further consideration of House Joint Resolution NN." Michigan's constitution, covering motions to discharge from committee, reads in part: "Each house, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall choose its own officers and determine the rules of its proceedings, but shall not adopt any rule that will prevent a majority of the members elected thereto and serving therein from discharging a committee from the further consideration of any measure ..." Michigan House Rules are constitutionally appropriate, providing under Rule 42 for a vote to discharge among "a majority of the Members elected to and serving in the House": "(3) Nothing in these rules shall prevent a majority of the Members elected to and serving in the House from discharging a committee from further consideration of any measure. (See Const 1963, Art 4 § 16) A notice of one session day shall be given of a motion to

discharge any such committee, the notice to be in writing and entered upon the House Journal. If a committee of the House is discharged from further consideration of a bill, the bill shall be placed on the order of Second Reading." And further for motions to discharge must be handled each session under Rule 58: "Always in Order; Not Debatable. Rule 58. (1) The following motions are not debatable: (a) Adjourn; (b) Call of the House; ..... (b) Discharge a committee; ...." Yet the only responsive action was a vote in the committee that is being discharged to postpone action within that committee itself for one day. "9/9/2008 HJ 72 Pg. 2115 motion to discharge committee postponed for day" The vote on the motion to discharge within the Judiciary Committee itself was irrelevant to the motion to discharge, which Michigan's constitution apparently required to have been voted on by the entire house, and the failure to hold such a vote may have violated both Michigan House Rules and Michigan's Constitution.

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