October 21, 2014

Senate to impose new rules on protests

The state Assembly last week voted to crack down on people who disrupt its proceedings, and now the state Senate is scheduled to follow suit, acting on a resolution which defines new rules for the session.

The resolution provides that any individual who violates senate rules or policies or provisions in the senate policy manual in a senate space may be removed from the senate space and not be allowed admittance to any senate spaces for a period of 24 hours. For a second violation, the individual may be removed from the senate space and not be allowed admittance to any senate spaces until the first roll call day of the next regularly scheduled floor period. For a third violation, the individual may be removed from the senate space and not be allowed admittance to any senate spaces for the remainder of the biennial legislative session. The resolution specifically provides that senate spaces include the senate chamber, senate offices, senate hearing rooms, and any other space in the capitol that is traditionally reserved for the conduct of senate business. 

The resolution provides that individuals in the gallery may not display signs or other objects. Currently, the prohibition applies only to signs. 

The Republican controlled Senate is scheduled to vote on the measure on Tuesday. The previous session of the legislature saw numerous incidents of disruptive behavior in Senate hearings and in the gallery, including one occasion where a pair protesters locked themselves to to the railing of the Senate gallery.