Pearce issues memo on Senate ban
Published: March 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm
That’s how long a person will be banned from setting foot in the Senate building after causing a disruption in the chamber, according to a memo sent today by Senate President Russell Pearce to his fellow senators.
Further disruptions, however, will mean that the ban will apply for the rest of the session, and, if the Legislature is not in session, for 60 days.
“Any person who has committed a serious criminal offense or engaged in a pattern of disruptive conduct in the Senate may be excluded from the Senate indefinitely,” Pearce wrote.
The memo is an attempt by Pearce to lay down some clearer guidelines to govern under what conditions, and more importantly, how long a person is excluded from entering the Senate building after causing a disruption.
The three-tiered exclusion also appears to be an acknowledgement that any prohibition must not be a blanket ban against individuals.
The issue stems from Pearce’s decision to prohibit several immigration activists from entering the Senate building after they were identified as leaders of disruptive behavior during a committee hearing last month. Others were also banned for shouting down a press conference.
Pearce has contended he has the backing of the state Constitution and Senate rules in banning the activists.
But critics argued that the ban is disproportionately heavy-handed. In addition, some critics insist Pearce has no power to ban anyone at all, and he’s reading the Constitution and Senate rules to suit his decision.