This was the first year in which the House of Delegates has had a self-imposed 15-bills-per-person limit. So while in 2008 there were 2,234 bills introduced, that dropped to 1,774 this year (and that includes bills carried over from the prior session), a 21% reduction. But the limit isn’t really 15—it’s possible to introduce more. Del. Bob Marshall explains, in this excerpt from the January 15 House session:
Marshall might be as fringy as a legislator can be, and he might be pathologically unempathetic and more than a little weird, but there’s no getting around that he’s an intelligent guy.
Bob and I do not always agree. Okay, Bob and I almost never agree. But he’s right on this one.
While I think there are a lot of frivolous bills that get introduced and the limit will encourage a more focused use of time, isn’t there something intuitively odd about giving out a limit for bills? Without looking at the statistics, and setting desires for small/less government aside, isn’t there at least a sense that legislators should not have to set an issue aside that matters because they’ve used up their bill limit? Or rather, that this opens an arena for bills to become something almost to be bartered. With 14 bills this idea of course has little to no real grounds. They still have plenty of bills, but like I said, isn’t there at least an intuitive problem with a bill limit?
I’m saying the obvious, I think, but I bring this up only because it seems to me pretty evident that if of one these (but why not both?) should have a limit, it should be constitutional amendments. Those should be reserved for serious business and this set up is asking for more amendments from the likes of Bob Marshall who have very little trouble reaching their limit.
So yeah, get cracking.
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