-But Rep. Dopoh wants amended House’s Rules be adopted before Easter break
The House of Representatives has for the first time in three years voted to “reject and extract” a communication from the House’s Records and Journal.
The House’s unprecedented and grim-faced actions came following a motion from its Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Representative Edwin M. Snowe of Bomi County District #1, asking plenary to reject and extract from its agenda a communication by Montserrado County District #11 Representative, Richard Koon, calling for the reduction of the legislative constituency break from 18 weeks to 10 weeks.
Rep. Snowe’s motion which was accepted by plenary, aims to completely annul Rep. Koon’s communication as though was never on the agenda and read in session.
Every written document, which is placed on the House’s agenda and debated upon, forms part of the House’s documents, records and journals including proceedings and statements of witnesses lain before the house. But Rep. Koon’s letter is the only communication which has been totally extracted from the House’s records and journals since the inception of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature on January 15, 2018.
In Rep. Koon’s letter, he described the 18-week constituency break, from August 31 – to the 2nd Working Monday as “wasteful” and suggested 10 weeks, from October 31 to the 2nd working Monday in January.
“I move, if I can receive a second, that this communication is rejected and extracted from our records and be treated as if it has never existed,” Rep. Snowe proffered.
In support of Rep. Snowe, Bong County District #6 Representative Moima Briggs-Mensah, in an angry tone, said the constituency break is a ‘working break’ which allows them to go to their constituents. She added that the “bad roads’ across the country is another reason to maintain the 18 weeks.
Another lawmaker, who joined in support of Rep. Briggs-Mensah and Rep. Snowe, was Nimba County District #8 Representative Larry Younquoi who laughed at Rep. Koon’s communication and said it should be received and forwarded to the House’s Rules, Order & Administration Committee to report in January 2021.
Lofa County District # 5 Representative Beyan Howard also agreed that the letter should be rejected and scratched from the House’s journals, and argued that in the court, also unnecessary and unwanted documents can also be extracted.
In a suprise move, the House’s chairperson on Rules, Order and Administration, Lofa County District #4 Representative Mariamu Fofana, said Rep. Koon’s letter is ‘very insensitive’ to rural lawmakers, and suggests that every motion of reconsiderations should be tried on Thursday, instead of the 48 hours in accordance with their rules and regulations.
However, River Gee District #3 Representative Francis Dopoh, proffered a motion for reconsideration, which he argued that Rep. Koon’s letter should be rejected but not extracted from the House’s records or journals.
However, Montserrado County District #12 Representative, Dr. George Samah, supported the motion for reconsideration, but the motion was defeated.
Meanwhile, Rep. Dopoh, on Wednesday, February 26, wrote the House’s Speaker Bhofal Chambers, reminding the Speaker and colleagues that on January 15, 2018, the Rules and Procedures of the House of Representatives of the 53rd Legislature were adopted, subject to amendment, to be used by the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature.
“Immediately following the elections of our leaderships, the Speaker appointed a committee, headed by Hon. Wesso, to review our Rules for possible amendment. Since the first debate on our Rules in 2018, there has been no further discussion on the matter,” Rep. Dopoh said.
“Hon. Speaker, Deputy Speaker, distinguished members of this Honorable House of Representatives: I am using this medium to request that Plenary takes a decision for a date to exclusively review, debate and possibly amend our Rules and Procedures before we take our Easter break.”
Rep. Dopoh’s communication is expected to be placed on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 agenda.
It is been reported that the Legislature’s constituency break lasts from August 31 to the 2nd working Monday in January (18 weeks). In addition to the Constituency Break, the Legislature also benefits from two additional breaks, each comprising two weeks — for the Easter and National Independence Celebrations, respectively.
Further, members of the Legislature do not go to work during on six holidays — Armed Forces Day (February 11), Decoration Day, J.J. Roberts Birthday (March 15), Fast and Prayer Day(two weeks), National Unification Day and Flag Day (August 24).
This means the Legislature are off from works for 23 weeks out of the 52 weeks in a year — Easter (two weeks); Independence (two weeks); Holiday (one week) and constituency break (18 weeks).