• It doesn’t count as reading it if it is not capable of being understood.

    Imagine doing this with Miranda warnings, or while reading charges to a defendant.

    • David C,

      You make an interesting point but in both cases of Miranda warnings and reading charges to a defendant, isn’t the person being given the Miranda warning asked if they understand their rights?

      When a person is read they charges against them, aren’t they too asked if they understand the charges?

      Is there the same requirement in Mississippi that the legislators understand the bill after it is read?

      I think the requirement of understanding what is read versus requiring the bill to be read because you are too lazy to do it yourself or as a political tactic are different.

      • You can speed it up so nobody can understand it. You can play it at negative ten decibels so it’s basically inaudible, or play it at a frequency only dogs can hear, or play it while blasting rap music. You could do all of those at the same time, even. But if literally nobody could understand the reading, can you really say it was read?

        Is there the same requirement in Mississippi that the legislators understand the bill after it is read?

        The state Constitution says this: “and every bill shall be read in full immediately before the vote on its final passage upon the demand of any member”.

        There’s a difference between not making sure it was understood, and purposely making it un-understandable. The members have a constitutional right to have the bill read. I would say that is implied that it is to be read in a way that is capable of being understood by an ordinary person. If, as a university employee, I have a duty to report a campus sexual assault to a supervisor, I’m fairly sure I can’t just play an unintelligible sped-up tape to do that, even if the law doesn’t actually say whether the report needs to be understood. If I need to give my insurance information to someone at the scene of an accident, I can’t hand them a card with microprinting on it, and claim that the law only says I need to give them the information and not that they must be able to see it. If a lawyer needs to submit discovery, he can’t use invisible ink and then claim that the information was, technically, submitted. I can’t think of any case where this sort of thing IS acceptable.

        I would say there *is* a requirement, if not that they understand it, at least that there is an opportunity for it to be understood. But state legislators are big boys; they don’t each need to be asked every time. I’m pretty sure they’re expected to speak up if they don’t understand what is being said. According to an old public-domain version of Robert’s Rules (emphasis mine):

        Questions relating to the rights and privileges of the assembly, or to any of its members, take precedence of all other motions except the three preceding relating to adjournment and recess, to which they yield. If the question is one requiring immediate action it may interrupt a member’s speech; as, for example, when, from any cause, a report that is being read cannot be heard in a part of the hall.

        If something is being read and it cannot be understood, it is appropriate for a member to object and demand that it be read in an intelligible fashion. If the chair refuses this demand, they are acting inappropriately.

  • Too bad they didn’t do that with the PPACA…

    David C, have you seen the “mark up” bills Congress passes, which just tell you what’s being changed (word by word), and not the full text of the bill post revisions? Reading that is worse than useless…

    The solution is for our electorate to both engage and educate themselves. In short, Congress needn’t concern themselves there will be any consequences for their official acts. They are in more danger for their tweets and personal faux pas.