How Much Have We Lost?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Legislative Inaction and Legislative Efficiency?

I was reading the Washington Post this morning and an article about legislative inaction in the U.S. Congress.

Congress passed 140 in the 112th Congress (2011-2012) resulting in 2,324 pages of new laws.  As of July 8, 2014, the 113th Congress has passed 125 new laws resulting in 2,597 pages of new law.

While there are definitely shortcomings in Virginia's 60 and 45 day sessions and the entire part-time legislature concept, I went to look at a couple metrics.

For example, in the 2014 General Assembly, around 2,750 bills were introduced (minus commending resolutions), 902 were passed, 234 continued to next session, and 980 killed.  The Acts of Assembly are the compilation of every bill we pass.  The 2014 version isn't out yet, but the 2011 Acts of Assembly was 2252 pages long.

Much of what we do is "housekeeping" where there is no meaningful objection to the legislation.  For example, of the 902 bills we passed, 502 were unanimous.

Obviously, the Federal Government is a complex entity, it's budget is probably three times longer than Virginia's.  You would think that the U.S. Congress needs to pass at least 5-10 times as much "housekeeping" legislation (or at least pages) as the Virginia General Assembly.  They are not even doing that.

I recognize that pages do not necessarily reflect substance, and it's not unusual to see a bill that has ten new words and takes up 10 pages.  However, it is really remarkable just how little the U.S. Congress has achieved in a two year session when you compare it to the typical product of our part-time, 45-60 day legislature.

1 comment:

  1. Many of us believe the failure of a legislature to pass "new" legislation is a good thing.

    ReplyDelete

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