Lawmaker Critical of Process Designed to Obstruct Access to "Fracking" Legislation
COLUMBUS - At 9:25 pm last night you would be hard pressed to hear much in the empty halls of the Statehouse. However, if you were in House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee, there is no doubt you heard the sharp hammer of Chairman Dave Hall's gavel as he ruled Representative Robert F. Hagan out of order while giving sponsor testimony.
Agriculture and Natural Resources committee may have been the first to try out a new I-Pad format for committee members, but that doesn't mean it ran any smoother than usual. The committee was packed with fourteen pieces of legislation. Majority members were largely given preference in testifying toward the beginning of committee, leaving most minority member bills concerning fracking related processes until the late evening.
"It's obvious that House Majority leadership uses committee formats for bills that they find disagreeable to make it difficult for working-class people to attend. Between putting kids to bed, making dinner and paying bills, it is difficult for working folks to participate in public hearings scheduled well past a reasonable hour. Even if they could make it to an evening committee, they'd be confronted with locked statehouse doors," Rep. Hagan said.
Yet, a small group of concerned citizens sat the proceedings out just to hear legislation on horizontal hydraulic fracturing processes in the state. Some got what they came for, hearing Rep. Hagan's testimony on HB 418 (to establish a moratorium on wastewater injection wells) with applause and questions of their own for the committee chairman in a committee lasting until 10pm.
"It remains pretty obvious that these hearings on important legislation were largely just a show with a process designed to conceal important legislation from the public and news media's view. It's a pretty big failure of leadership in state government," said Rep. Hagan.