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Wed Jul 20, 2016, 07:42 AM

High court hears arguments in 'demon chipmunk' case

JACKSON — After hearing an hour-and-a-half of arguments Tuesday, the state’s high court is pondering whether it has jurisdiction in a legislative fight over a “demon chipmunk” computer speed-reading bills in the state House as a way to minimize filibuster.

Freshman state Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, sued Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn over the reading of House bills by a computer cranked up to illegible speed during the 2016 legislative session. A provision in the state’s 1890 constitution — included, it’s now surmised, because some lawmakers back then couldn’t read — grants any member of the Legislature the right to have a bill read aloud in its entirety before a final vote. For decades, this provision has been used as a method of protest and filibuster, to slow legislative works to a crawl by forcing bills to be read.

Several years ago, legislative leaders bought software to allow a computer to read bills, so clerks didn’t have to spend hours doing it. Over the last couple of years, House leaders had cranked up the speed a little on the computer — thus the coining of the “demon chipmunk” term. But this session, when Democrats angered at Gunn started forcing all bills be read as a deadline for assage approached, Gunn cranked the speed up so high the words were unintelligible. It still droned on for hours on lengthy bills.

“I’m not sure what a demon chipmunk sounds like,” state Supreme Court Justice Dawn Beam said during arguments Tuesday.

Read more: http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/19/high-court-hears-arguments-demon-chipmunk-case/87320568/

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