The legislative deadline for introducing new bills this year was Feb. 24, and by the time the day was over, at least 4,200 pieces of legislation had been filed. If there was any better reason for cranking the Legislature down to part-time service, those numbers certainly make the case.
Most of those bills are filed in service of one special interest or the other. Bills filed by Republicans are highly unlikely to see the light of day in the heavily Democrat Legislature. Even bills filed by Democrats are likely to die unless they serve the interests of the Democratic leadership.
So where is the leadership in the Legislature? Where is the thinking that can motivate lawmakers to stop wasting the state’s time on frivolous bills?
It exists in neither party.
How can legislators — Assembly members and senators alike — keep track of 4,200 bills? They have to hire people to do it for them. And the work of most of those hirelings is wasted, because here is the truth of this matter: Most of those bills won’t see the light of day.
When would those bills be debated in any meaningful way? When could intelligent hearings be held between now and the deadline for passage. It would be impossible.
Some of those bills are place-holders for other legislation which will be inserted after deadline. That tactic is intentionally dishonest, but it’s used all the time by legislators who want to avoid legislating in the light of day.
It’s no wonder the people of the state feel they have to govern by ballot measure instead of through their legislators.
Critics of lawmaking by initiative say those ballot measures amount to meddling in the lawmaking process. But one could say the same thing about trying to deal with 4,200 pieces of legislation, most of which serve special interests and have no chance of even being heard, let alone passing.