01/15/19 -- 0026H02.25H (Amendment to HR7) -- Adds a caveat relating to keeping records confidential

Bill Number: 
0026H02.25H (Amendment to HR7)
Bill Purpose: 
Adds a caveat relating to keeping records confidential
Date of Vote: 
01/15/19
My Vote: 
No
Explanation: 

This amendment to HR7 (The Rules of the 100th General Assembly) would have added the words "to the extent allowed by law" to the section of the rules that allows House members to refrain from disclosing records pertaining to communications with constituents.  It's intent was to undermine the purpose of a rule which indicated that it is the policy of the House of Representatives to allow discretion to its members regarding the release of such communications in response to a Sunshine request.  Given the recent passage of Constitutional Amendment 1 (which among other things subjects the General Assembly to the Sunshine law), adding "to the extent allowed by law" would have likely invalidated the remainder of the House rule, therefore rendering it useless.

According to statements made by Representative Nick Schroer (Republican, District 107), a prior ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court indicated that the General Assembly has Constitutional authority to pass rules governing its own internal practices and procedures.  Accordingly, a House rule allowing individual members the option to keep constituent communications confidential was consistent with the authority of the House, regardless of the provisions of Amendment 1.  This theory has of course not yet been tested in the courts, but it appears to be reasonable in my untrained judgement.

Because this amendment would have essentially negated the purpose of the House rule it was amending, and because I believe it is extremely important that constituents be able to communicate with their Representatives in a private manner, I voted no on this amendment.