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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The End of "Brochure Bills"

The December 11th House GOP caucus meeting makes me feel good to be a Republican. If I closed my eyes I'd think it was 1994 all over again. Why? Because the decision to let the House dispose of bills in subcommittee rather with the committee chair's consent is a great victory for efficiency in government. Bob Gibson, the single point of light of the Charlottesville Daily Progress, reports on the change in this hilariously titled piece from Monday. The editors at the Progress aren't as elated as I am, and they take it to task in this op-ed from Tuesday.

The folks over at the regress aren't out of line, even if their strained canine conceit is atrocious. Anytime a group goes for a seemingly sub rosa power-grab alarm bells should go off in the heart of every Republican and classically liberally minded fellow. I don't think this should be viewed as a power grab. I think that House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) was being honest when he said this is merely a way to keep "Brochure Bills", those that are "not ready for primetime" introduced only to get good press back at home (and fit neatly into a reelection brochure) should take up less of the General Assembly's space-time and energy and be dispatched the first time they are heard, not the second. Giving more authority to the subcommittee will ensure that the full committees have more time to craft quality legislation.

While clearly abuses will occur (it's politics) and someone will always be upset when even a "real dog" is put down (it's politics) this action demonstrates a clear commitment to making the system work better. Brochure bills aren't something only introduced by the minority.


Anonymous Solon said...

Well, well, well...Now you see 'em now you don't. After screaming for decades about the right of a bill's fate to be decided on its merits, the Republicans, now in the majority, have taken the arrogance of power to a stage that the Democratic Party never did.

Letting a subcommittee kill bills is simply a way to let the majority delegates "off the hook" on controversial issues. The Democrats always required the full committee to act, reasoning that it was the subcommitte's function to refine and redraft bills and to recommend. But the final authority always rested with the committee.

Efficiency? Bah. Democracy is susposed to be responsive. Mussolini was efficient.

Interestingly, the Republican hypocracy is also evident when they changed the rules on proportional representation on committees. The claim that Democrats shouldn't "get credit for seats they didn"t win..." is patently ridiculous and violates the agreement between the parties made years ago. So the Republicans should get the credit...?

There's an old saying that the people get the legislature they deserve....We Virginians must have done something awful to deserve this....

Oh well this year Black and Marrs--next year the rest.

2:53 PM

Anonymous DANIEL WEBSTER said...

"End of brochure bills?" You must be kidding. Brochure bills are just introduced and then they are put into a brochure (e.g. "Delegate Blog sponsored and fought for legislation to neuter promiscuos teens.").

Under the current system the delegate may have to go to the full committee, the subcommittee and to the full committee. If he doesn't show the press or the people who wanted him to introcuce the bill would see if he didn't pursue it. Now they at least have to put in an appearance or someone might notice.

Under the new process, he'll be able to "sleep in", knowing that the brochure bill will be quietly put to death in subcommittee and no one will ever know that he really didn't give a damn.

This system will encourage more brochure bills. Talk about "not quite ready for prime time"--I give you the Republican leadership.

3:36 PM


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