Democrats in the U.S. House had a saying during the time when their party controlled both that chamber and the U.S. Senate: “Republicans are our opposition. The Senate is our enemy.”
That nicely sums up the turf battles and legislative feuds that can arise from time to time between the House and Senate – whether at the state or federal level – even when the same party holds a majority in both bodies. Such seems to be the case with Senate Bill 10, which would make significant changes to state boards and commissions.
Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), a primary sponsor of the measure, visited the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday to speak on the bill, which had passed the Senate largely on a party-line vote three weeks previous. However, the House committee proposed several revisions to the Senate-approved version, drawing the ire of Apodaca.
“My goodness, what have you done to my child?” Apodaca asked, eliciting laughter from the committee. But the tone quickly grew more serious when Apodaca said, “This is not a good way to start the session.”
Apodaca took particular exception with the committee deleting a provision that would remove a dozen superior court judge positions. “I feel like that’s been a move by some attorneys and I do question the ethics involved in that,” Apocada said.
The senator then shook his head and added before exiting, “I don’t know what to say, this is nothing like what we sent over, so I’d be wasting the House’s time if I spoke about it. I just look forward to seeing the conference committee.”
The committee went on to approve its changes to the bill on a 34-24 vote, sending the measure to the full House for consideration.
Stress between the House and Senate is nothing new with Republicans now in charge. Certainly the two chambers rumbled over legislative matters during the years of Democratic dominance. That tension is part of the rationale for a bicameral legislature and provides an often healthy dose of checks and balances.
Apodaca’s reaction in Wednesday’s House committee serves as a reminder that sometimes the battle lines in the legislature are drawn not between two parties, but two chambers.