Nearman Votes Against Party Over Criminal Justice Reform

House Republican Mike Nearman (R-Independence) voted against his party on Wednesday, May 30 to end the Republican stalling tactics of forcing all bills to be read out loud. Nearman is protesting the Republicans allowing the recent passage of a criminal justice reform bill.

Nearman, along with Reps. Bill Post (R-Salem) and Greg Smith, both voted to end the Republicans use of an arcane rule which can require legislation to be read aloud before any further business on it can proceed.

Post said that while he was “ready to vote and go home,” he insisted that he and Nearman were nevertheless “principled conservative Republicans.” Nearman, who arranged their defection, claims he went directly to Democratic leadership in protest of Republicans allowing four of their members to vote to pass Senate Bill 1008, which relaxed rules about when juvenile defendants are treated as adults and when mandatory minimum sentencing laws apply.

SB 1008 amends Ballot Measure 11, a 1994 law voted on by the public. Nearman believes this bill should also have to be decided by the public, rather than by the legislature.

Smith reportedly voted to end the delay by mistake, saying he was “distracted” while voting. The vote only ended the reading of bills aloud for that day.

Republicans claim to be utilizing this rule as a blunt negotiating tactic with Democrats, who control a wide majority of the seats in both the House and Senate. The House has been adding evening and weekend sessions to deal with the slowdown. But with only four weeks left until the end of the session, Democrats have yet to finalize the state’s next two-year budget or make progress on a cap-and-trade plan.

By Ian MacRonald