Assemblyman Roger Hernández ordered sergeants to remove the microphone of the top Republican on the Assembly labor panel Wednesday, prompting the Assembly GOP to accuse Hernández of “bullying tactics” and forcing Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to get involved.
Atkins met with Hernández, D-Baldwin Park, Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, and Assembly GOP leaders on Thursday. Hernández “acknowledged his oversight to Mr. Harper and expressed regret,” Atkins spokesman John Casey said in an e-mail.
“The Speaker believes that all members of the Assembly have the right to ask questions and voice their opinions on legislative matters while in committee and on the floor,” Casey said. “The Speaker doesn’t expect any similar incidents to occur going forward.”
Wednesday’s dust-up in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee came during consideration of a bill that would increase California’s minimum wage and tie it to inflation.
Following lengthy testimony from supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 3, Hernández called for a vote, ignoring Harper’s request to speak.
“Mr. Chairman, the cutoff on debate is completely embarrassing,” Harper said after the vote.
“You’re out of order, you’re out of order, you’re out of order,” Hernández replied. “Turn his mike off.”
“You can’t be yelling in this committee like that,” Hernández said.
“No, you cut me off,” Harper answered, leading Hernández to reach two seats over and turn off Harper’s microphone. He asked sergeants to remove Harper’s microphone.
After a sergeant seemed to signal his colleague to hold off, Hernández said, “I’m running the meeting, not the sergeant.” A sergeant then detached the microphone.
The Assembly Republican Caucus criticized Hernández’s “spastic behavior” in a statement late Wednesday.
“Blocking discussion in this manner is unfair, undemocratic and soils the decorum of the Assembly,” Harper said in the Assembly GOP statement. “I was sent here to represent the concerns of the voters of my district and chairman Hernández shut down my ability to speak for who I represent.”