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Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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Senate President Hill Admonishes Discourteous Behavior

Responding to a letter from Gov. John deJongh Jr. complaining of the treatment of one of his staff during budget hearings Tuesday, Senate President Louis Hill reminded senators of the institution’s rules of decorum Thursday.

"There is certain lawful and acceptable behavior which governs the first branch of government during sessions of the Legislature and meetings of its committees," Hill said in his letter of response. "Rule 811 adopted by the Twenty-Eighth Legislature requires ‘each Senator to conduct himself or herself at all times … in a manner complimentary to the Senate and with dignity and respect for the high office which he or she holds,’ as well as ‘desist from verbally or physically attacking … a member of the public during any session or other meeting of the Legislature.’ "

The general absence of courtesy has an impact both on the tenor of the Legislature and the debate on the floor when it becomes personal and rancorous, said Hill.

"First and foremost, the primary unwritten rule of the Senate is to work cooperatively with others to move forward the Legislature’s agenda for the benefit of the people. The integrity of our members whose behavior is consistent with our Rules as evidenced by our success over the last four months in passing substantive legislation, often by the unanimous vote of both majority and minority Senators."

The incident in question began as Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson was asking Nathan Simmonds, deJongh’s senior policy advisor, about why the administration had paid some vendors but not others during the government’s current cash flow crisis. Nelson repeatedly interrupted him when Simmonds began to answer, called him a "liar" and made some references to Simmonds’ personal history.
Ultimately, Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, who was chairing the meeting, gently insisted upon decorum and civility. Nelson did not apologize as such, but later partially backtracked, saying "sometimes the discussion can get heated."
Without naming names in his letter, Hill sternly admonished any senators who broke decorum or "whose improper statements are designed to impugn character or integrity," and pledged continued cooperation and goodwill between the legislative and executive branches of government.

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Responding to a letter from Gov. John deJongh Jr. complaining of the treatment of one of his staff during budget hearings Tuesday, Senate President Louis Hill reminded senators of the institution's rules of decorum Thursday.

"There is certain lawful and acceptable behavior which governs the first branch of government during sessions of the Legislature and meetings of its committees," Hill said in his letter of response. "Rule 811 adopted by the Twenty-Eighth Legislature requires 'each Senator to conduct himself or herself at all times … in a manner complimentary to the Senate and with dignity and respect for the high office which he or she holds,' as well as 'desist from verbally or physically attacking … a member of the public during any session or other meeting of the Legislature.' "

The general absence of courtesy has an impact both on the tenor of the Legislature and the debate on the floor when it becomes personal and rancorous, said Hill.

"First and foremost, the primary unwritten rule of the Senate is to work cooperatively with others to move forward the Legislature’s agenda for the benefit of the people. The integrity of our members whose behavior is consistent with our Rules as evidenced by our success over the last four months in passing substantive legislation, often by the unanimous vote of both majority and minority Senators."

The incident in question began as Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson was asking Nathan Simmonds, deJongh's senior policy advisor, about why the administration had paid some vendors but not others during the government's current cash flow crisis. Nelson repeatedly interrupted him when Simmonds began to answer, called him a "liar" and made some references to Simmonds' personal history.
Ultimately, Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, who was chairing the meeting, gently insisted upon decorum and civility. Nelson did not apologize as such, but later partially backtracked, saying "sometimes the discussion can get heated."
Without naming names in his letter, Hill sternly admonished any senators who broke decorum or "whose improper statements are designed to impugn character or integrity," and pledged continued cooperation and goodwill between the legislative and executive branches of government.