North La. Rep. quits House committee that deferred his Roe v. Wade bill

Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator

The author of the bill that would criminalize women who seek abortions announced Monday he is resigning from a Louisiana House committee that refused to hear a related proposals. But it’s not clear whether he can simply step down on any official basis or whether his move is without consequences.

Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, sent a letter to Rep. Greg Miller, R-Norco, chairman of the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee, that stated he would step down from the panel. It came on the same day the committee was scheduled to hear House Bill 344 that would prohibit “the state and its political subdivisions from enforcing, administering, or cooperating with the decision and judgments of the United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade.”

Such a law would conflict with the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that Supreme Court decisions – and federal law in general – take precedence over state laws.

Miller opened Monday’s civil law committee meeting by announcing that McCormick’s bill would be voluntarily deferred, which would indicate it was pulled at McCormick’s request. In his letter to Miller, McCormick said his resignation from the committee “was prompted what seemed to be the intentional avoidance of scheduling HB 344 in a timely manner.”

McCormick went on to write that he learned last week that HB 344 “was not going to make it out of committee,” and that other bills “have been treated unfairly by this committee by the delaying of a hearing.”

“I have no desire to sit on a committee which actively lobbies to kill legislation before a hearing, nor will I continue serving on a committee that I believe is being managed unethically and unfairly,” McCormick’s letter reads.

The committee resignation from McCormick comes after the House of Representatives took the teeth out of House Bill 813. It would have criminalized people who obtain or perform an abortion. Opponents raised concerns about the constitutionality of language in McCormick’s bill that called for the removal of state judges who overruled or prevented his proposed law from taking effect.

McCormick moved his bill back to the calendar Thursday after the House, in a 65-26 vote, added an amendment that limited its criminal consequences to healthcare professionals who perform an abortion.

Legislative rules state that the House speaker and committee chairs can remove committee members from their seats, but they do not spell out a process for a member that wants to resign from a panel. The removal process involves a resolution brought to the House floor, but there is no indication that’s in store for McCormick, who also sits on the House Criminal Justice and Agriculture committees.

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