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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 86   View pdf image (33K)
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"Rule 39. Every bill shall receive three
readings in the House on three different days
of the session previous to its passage, unless
three-fourths of the members of the House
otherwise determine, &c."
In framing these rules we have determined
that reports from committees embodying
amendments of the Constitution shall go
through the same form that bills go through
when they are pending before the House of
Delegates, There no bill, if it simply appro-
priates five dollars, or proposts to change a
man's name, if it touches the smallest matter
of legislation, can be read more than once
upon the same day unless three-fourths of the
members vote for it. Otherwise it receives
one reading on one day, a second reading on
another day, when it is considered as subject to
amendment, and a third reading on a third
day when it is put upon its final passage. All
that I propose, therefore, by this amendment,
is to place reports from committees containing
articles or sections proposed to be made a
part of the constitution in the same position ;
and I think no gentleman can object to the
reasonableness of such an amendment. We
are here to form a Constitution for the people
of the State; to remodel the organic law. The
result of this rule, if it should be adopted by
the Convention as reported by the majority of
tile committee, would be that the majority of
too Convention could frame areport and sub-
mit it to-day to the Convention, have it read
the second time by a vote of a bare majority,
and by the same vote put it upon its pas-
sage; and the members of the Convention
would not even have the privilege of seeing
that report in print, or the opportunity to
read it through, but must judge of its pro-
visions simply by hearing it. read at the clerk's
Now I gravely ask this Convention whether,
as representing their constituents here in a
sovereign Convention to remodel the organic
law of the State, they will be prepared to
adopt a report to insert articles in the Con-
stitution of the State in that rapid and infor-
mal manner. I can hardly conceive of any
report which will emanate from any commit-
tee, embodying an article to be placed in the
Constitution, which I should be willing to
vote upon in this manner, unless I was a
member of that committee and had carefully
considered its provisions. We are not only
to embody our views in the Constitution, but
we are to embody then, in such a form that it
will not afterwards involve the State in liti-
gation. Every man's constituents are en-
titled lo demand, upon a constitutional pro-
vision, not only that the views of their repre-
sentative in reference to the policy of that
provision should be considered, but that he
should have an opportunity to read over the
phraseology to determine whether it may
pot involve the people of the State in a lengthy
litigation from the hasty adoption of some
clause, and to serve his constituents by sug-
gesting a proper modification. Such a rule
as this, will enable a bare majority of the
House, to put a provision of the Constitution
upon its final passage upon the very first day
of its presentation to the House, without its
ever being printed, or members being allowed
an opportunity to read it through,
Not only does reason favor the amendment
which I submit, but that amendment is in
consonance with the rules of every legislative
body, whose rules I have examined. No
legislative body, so far as I am informed or
have examined, which requires a report em-
bodying articles in a Constitution, or a bill,
to be read on three several days, allows a bare
majority of the House to put it through upon
its final passage upon the first day that it is
submitted, without giving members the
privilege of reading it through. But the
rules of every legislative body, where three
days are required upon which a measure shall
be read, provide that a vote of three-fourths
of the members shall be required to suspend
the rules. I offer the the amendment, there-
fore, that we may not, upon so grave a mat-
ter as that upon which we are now engaged,
the formation of the organic law of the State ;
proceed hastily, but that we may conform to
the rule of justice which in every legislative
body is extended by the majority to the min-
ority, to give them an opportunity to con-
sider a proposition three days, first when it is
offered, second when it is open to amend-
ment and discussion, and third when the final
vote is taken upon it.
Mr. STIRLING. I do not altogether agree
with the member from Prince George's (Mr.
Clarke) although I am anxious to avoid hasty
legislation. I do not want to require too
strong a vote to carry through a project at
the manifest desire of a large majority of the
Convention I would move to amend so that
it may require a vote of "two-thirds of the
members present."
Mr. CLARKE. Of course that is better than
the report as it emanates from the majority of
the committee; but still, inasmuch as the
amendment submitted by the minority of the
committee embodies the rule which governs
all legislative bodies, so far as I have been
able to learn, and which has governed the
House of Delegates ever since the adoption of
the last Constitution, I am not willing to ac-
cept of the amendment suggested by the
gentleman from Baltimore city. I should be
unwilling to place a third of the members of
the Convention in that position I think the
rule adopted by the House of Delegates is
preferable to that now suggested.
Mr. STIRLING}. I will state very briefly why
1 am willing to go to the extent I have sug-
gested, and why I do not feel disposed to go
quite as far as the gentleman from Prince
George's. So far as his argument bears upon
the question of the hasty consideration of a

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 86   View pdf image (33K)
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