The Art of Reconsideration

I used to play a lot of golf. One of the traditions my friends and I shared on the first tee was the so-called “mulligan.” A “mulligan” is the opportunity to redo your tee shot if you’re displeased with your first effort. As children, we called it a “do over.” When I was elected Ga State Representative, I was unaware that the House of Representatives also has “mulligans,” called “reconsideration.”

When a bill fails to get at least 91 votes, the author of the bill will often make a motion for reconsideration. If the member receives at least 91 votes for his motion to reconsider, then the bill can be brought back up for a vote. It’s a time-honored tradition to vote in favor of reconsideration, even if you voted against the bill. This is done out of courtesy to your colleague in order to allow them the opportunity to persuade people to change their vote. I’m not sure that this is a wise tradition.

I remember three significant times that bills were brought up for reconsideration this session.

The first was a bill that would require ride-share companies (Uber, Lyft, etc.) to pay state income tax on fares. The bill failed on its first vote. The author moved for reconsideration and was given a “mulligan.” Because it was Crossover Day (the last day a bill can “crossover” from the House to the Senate), the bill had to be brought up for reconsideration that same day. Just a few hours later, many of my colleagues changed their vote, so the bill passed. Fortunately, this bill died in the Senate.

The second bill would make royalties from music exempt from state income taxes. It failed by a huge margin. The author moved for reconsideration. A few hours later, the bill was brought back to the floor, and it passed. Again, the Senate saved us by killing this bill.

The third resolution came over from the Senate, which called for a constitutional amendment that would take away the negotiating power that city school districts have regarding the collection of ESPLOST in a county. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote in favor. It passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. However, it ran into a problem in the House when members spoke against it, and it was not passed. Yet when the resolution came back to the floor the following day, it passed.

This begs the obvious question. Why would an elected official change their vote on the exact same issue only a few hours later? Could it be that they discovered “new” information that gave them a greater understanding of the issue and caused them to change their mind? Yes. Could it be that they were offered something in return for changing their vote? Yes again. Passing legislation is often a complicated and complex process.

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