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Maryland GOP delegates protest change to House rules

ANNAPOLIS — Republicans in the House of Delegates say a change to the body’s rules will keep the minority party from debating critical issues.

Lawmakers say an amendment to a rule that mandates the House speaker maintain order targets GOP members who want to engage in debate. The change passed Thursday allows the speaker to quell frivolous, disruptive conduct or behavior that delays the chamber’s work.

Republicans argue that the amendment was prompted by their push to have further debate on a bill to increase the sales tax on alcohol in the waning days of last year’s session.

Proponents of the rule change said would clarify existing practice.

The House later passed an additional measure requiring that future changes to their rules pass with a two-thirds majority, or 94 votes.