House Speaker DeLeo’s emergency rules package power grab: “Never let a crisis go to waste”

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WOBURN — House Speaker Robert DeLeo is looking to use the current COVID-19 crisis to change legislative rules in order to consolidate more power, Massachusetts Republican Chairman Jim Lyons said Wednesday.

“Speaker DeLeo sought to use the crisis to implement a rule change package that would consolidate his power to limit and control debate but House Republicans thankfully caught him in the act and put a stop to it,” said Massachusetts Republican Chairman Jim Lyons. “Congratulations to Republican Minority Leader Brad Jones for standing up and shutting down this scheme, and not allowing this power grab to go one step forward.”

According to Republican Billerica state Rep. Marc Lombardo, who was present inside the House chamber for Wednesday’s attempted power grab, Speaker DeLeo’s new rules package would have stripped members of existing rights and “would make the unprecedented requirement for members to pre-register to speak before any session starts and before any debate even happens.

“Members would be required to declare in advance their support or opposition, after which they would be placed on a list that Speaker DeLeo would use to determine whether they could speak,” Lombardo said. “Members would be restricted to speaking only once on an issue, and be limited to 10 minutes, while the Democratic chair would be granted unlimited time and opportunities to speak.

“There is absolutely no reason for these new rules as the House could continue virtual operation with the existing rules in place.”

Lombardo continued: “Let me be crystal clear: the Republican caucus is in no way trying to interfere with legislation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, to the contrary, we support Gov. Baker’s proposals and the representation by the Speaker that somehow Republicans were trying to interfere with helping the residents of the commonwealth during this pandemic is deeply disturbing.”
In addition, the new rules do not coincide with the expiration date of the current state of emergency. DeLeo instead set the new rules package to expire in January 2021. “House Democrats under DeLeo even rejected an amendment adding a ‘sunset clause’ to the news rules,” Lyons pointed out. “That should tell you that they aren’t seeing this power grab as temporary — they want it to be permanent.”
“Speaker DeLeo’s claim that Republican opposition to his list of power-grabbing ’emergency procedures’ is dangerous is a flat-out lie,” Lyons said. “The truth is, he sees this as a chance to stifle debate, just like he saw the current pandemic as a chance to stifle any threats to Democratic control before he was overruled by the Supreme Judicial Court.

Added Rep. Lombardo:

“I ask my Democratic colleagues to join the Republican Caucus in calling on Speaker DeLeo to abandon this attempt to strip members of their rights and to further consolidate his own power.”

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