The House Rules Committee, which is the last stop before bills make it to the House floor for a vote, finally had its first meeting of the year today. There are 24 bills awaiting the committee’s action, but until today, none was heard or decided upon. It’s not unusual for the committee not to meet, but is unusal for bills to be held up as they have been.
Chairman Gabrielle LeDoux had several noncontroversial bills on the agenda today, but only let the meeting go for four and a half minutes and then ended it abruptly after passage of a resolution recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In short, the bill was a nothingburger — a routine piece of resolution that makes people feel better about the world but does nothing.
But then things went sideways.
LeDoux introduced her amendment, Committee Substitute 2, which amended SCR 2 that had come over from the Senate, where Sen. Kevin Meyer was the sponsor. LeDoux’s aide explained the amendments to the committee.
LeDoux was not making small changes to the resolution, but added major items to it: She rolled in April as Child Abuse Awareness Month and designated Go Blue Friday, a day when people wear blue clothing to signify solidarity against child abuse.
This resolution had been amended into a brand new piece of legislation that had never been heard by any other committee.
Rep. David Eastman of Wasilla decided that if amendments were being made, he would like to offer his own, and it would relate to child abuse and a person’s right to life.
LeDoux refused to allow him to offer his amendment.
Rep. Mike Chenault tried to offer an amendment to simply correct the date of the resolution.
But LeDoux was having none of it.
“We’re not going to take amendments,” she said. In fact, she could not accept the Chenault minor date correction because then she’d have to entertain the right-to-life amendment by Eastman.
Eastman persisted, trying to explain that if some amendments were entertained — her amendments — it was only fair that others be allowed to be offered and considered for an up or down vote. Otherwise, why have a committee?
When asked for an explanation by Rep. Lora Reinbold, LeDoux said, “Because I don’t want any amendments.”
In a written statement late Wednesday, Eastman said: “Representative LeDoux believes in a process in which other legislators must come to her and earn her support before the voters they represent are entitled to have a voice in the legislature.
“My constituents will have none of that – They have a word for that where I come from: ‘Corruption.’ – Rep. David Eastman
“No American, No Alaskan, should have to tolerate that type of Pay-to-Play mentality existing in the halls of their legislature,” Eastman said.
LeDoux has a political action committee, Gabby’s Tuesday PAC, and collects money from lobbyists, which she gives to some legislators during election season; she has been accused of running a pay-to-play operation since as Rules chair, she controls so much of what goes on in the House. She was accused earlier this month of threatening Rep. Reinbold, saying she would withhold money from her during her next campaign if she didn’t vote a certain way.
LeDoux violated the rights of Alaskans to have their opinions and beliefs expressed through their representatives in Juneau, Eastman said.
“Such flagrant disregard for the legislative process is unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” said Eastman. “I call for the immediate censure of Rep. LeDoux. That may be the way they do things in New York, but this is not how we should conduct the people’s business in Alaska.”
As LeDoux ended the meeting without addressing the other items on the agenda, she and Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak can be seen on the video (4.08 minutes into the recording) nervously laughing with their heads together.
The entire four minutes of the meeting can be watched at 360north.org