CONCORD – House Republican Leader Gene Chandler today offered the statement below, relative a recent House member’s objection to what is usually a common courtesy the House extends to members. The process known as Unanimous Consent is allowed by House rules and allows members who wish to address the body outside of debate on bills to do so. Unanimous consent is an accepted practice in accordance with Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure (Sec. 537, 2010 edition), by which the House operates.
At the end of the January 22nd House Session, Rep. Warren Groen (R-Rochester) asked for unanimous consent of the House for the purpose of speaking about the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Rep. Candace Bouchard (D-Concord) objected to allowing Rep. Groen to speak, making the motion not unanimous. At the time, Rep. Gary Richardson (D-Hopkinton) was presiding. He ruled that due to the single objection, he would not allow the member to speak. Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure allows the presiding officer to make such a ruling or allow the full body to vote on the matter. Rep. Richardson chose not to let the body vote.
During the morning of the House session today, January 29th, members attempted to resolve the matter. As of the time of this release, the matter remains unresolved and Rep. Groen has not been able to speak.
House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett):
“Every House member should have the opportunity to be heard. Part of being in the Legislature involves hearing from people of differing viewpoints. Members who object to the subject matter of a certain unanimous consent request have the option of leaving the room. Unanimous consent has always been a courtesy members have extended to others, regardless of subject matter or party label. This situation sets a bad precedent and it’s unfair. Rep. Groen deserves the same amount of courtesy other members have received.”