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Speaker McCutcheon talks rule debate, House priorities

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY – House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said the House GOP’s plan to change the operating rules and limit the debate for Special Order Calendars was intended to hasten discussion on actual issues and prevent stalling tactics.

McCutcheon spoke to reporters after the House adjourned its organizational session. This week, the 77-member Republican majority attempted to do away with a rule that allows up to two hours of debate on Special Order Calendars, or the slate of bills set to be considered each day. Democrats vehemently opposed the plan, arguing it would take away their already limited ability to slow down legislation. In the end, McCutcheon and other House leaders agreed to a compromise to allow one hour of debate instead of two.

Asked why he felt it was important to pursue the rule change, McCutcheon said he wants House floor debates to be about issues and legislation, not stalling tactics over process.

“As Speaker, I feel like my job is to make sure ever representative has the opportunity to represent their district and represent the people of their district. I enjoy a healthy debate on an issue. I’m not much for filibuster – I’lll just be honest with you,” he said.

“When you have an eight hour day, and every Special Order is being debated for two hours, it takes away from your opportunity to debate a piece of legislation.”

Asked if he felt members of the House were satisfied with the compromise, McCutcheon said Republicans and Democrats differed while finding common ground.

‘Todd, I think that depends on what party you’re in,” he said. “I think at the end of the day we found a compromise that would be fair. Everybody is not going to be 100 percent happy, but I think overall the majority felt good about what we did.”

McCutcheon also discussed what he saw as priorities for the upcoming Regular Session, including clarifying the ethics code, finding ways to fund prisons, school safety, a potential lottery, and raising gas tax revenue to help pay for improving infrastructure.

Watch Speaker McCutcheon’s full remarks below.

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