Thursday, March 25, 2010

Legislative Stats Update: House 420:40 Senate 308:26 Both 728:66


Joint Res.53162968222
Concurrent Res.2261653811
Special Con. Res.000000
[These numbers come from BASIS bills statistics, Wednesday afternoon, March 24.]

So we still have an 11 to 1 ratio between bills introduced and bills that have passed both houses.

Let's compare with two weeks ago:
March 24: House 420:40  Senate 308:26  Both 728:66
March   8: House 412:38  Senate 302:26  Both 714:64

You can click on the committee links to see which bills they have to hear.  
[These numbers come from BASIS-Bills-Bills in Committee]

Finance - has 80 House Bills to deal with (plus 17 more resolutions and Senate bills)
[On 3/9 they had 72 bills]
Resources -39 [3/8 - 38]
Health and Social Services - 34 [41]
Labor and Commerce - 33 [35]
State Affairs -32 [37]
Rules - 25 (plus 15 more resolutions and senate bills) [21] (Note: Rules is the last stop before going to the House Floor)
Judiciary - 21 [28]
Transportation -18 [25]
Education - 16 (also not counting Senate Bills) [20]
Community and Regional Affairs 14 [19]

Energy -13 [15]
Fisheries -11 [15]
Military & Veterans' Affairs -1 [1]
Econ. Development, Trade & Tourism - [1]

I've learned that it usually helps to check things out before jumping to conclusions.  So while I often conjecture, I try to leave the conclusions open ended.  I did talk to the House State Affairs staff and the chair briefly to see why they have 27 bills, but Thursday they are only going to start at 9:30am (instead of the regular 8am) and they will only hear one bill, Sen. Menard's SB 43 to add a second verse to the Alaska State Song.

The answer was interesting.   Two common reasons bills are never heard - at least in State Affairs - are
  1. The sponsor hasn't asked that they be heard.  They may have 27 House bills, but for most of them, the sponsors haven't requested that they be heard.  Chair Rep. Lynn says he won't hear a bill unless the sponsor requests it.  
  2. There may be several bills on the same topic.  For example, there were three House bills on campaign expenditures in response to the US Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, and one from the Senate.  The bill that passes in its body's chamber first is the one that goes on through the other house. So, if the Senate version of a bill passes the Senate before the House version passes the House, the House bill gets dropped and the Senate version is the one that goes on.  And the Senate bill's sponsor gets credit if it becomes law. 

That got into a long discussion of why people introduce bills, a discussion that I'll save for later.  But the point here is that State Affairs is pretty much up to date. The key point though, in some cases there are good reasons why a committee may have a lot of unheard bills, or that a lot more bills are filed than are passed.

That's not to say that sometimes Chairs simply sit on bills they don't like to kill them and other such things. But there are also valid reasons.

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