22 March 2010

Death by Committee

The Associated Press examined the work of the 14 Senate and 14 House committees that took up bills during the just-completed legislative session. Among the findings:

  • Just under one-third of the 2,080 bills introduced during the session earned a review from at least one committee during the 60 days.
  • About one in 10 bills made it through two committees in the chamber where it started.
  • A triple-reference proved too great a hurdle: none of the 20 House and Senate bills each assigned to three separate committees for review survived the session.
  • Of the 320 bills that crossed over between the Senate and House, more than 70 percent cleared at least one committee in the other chamber.
  • House committees got off to a quicker start, advancing bills almost immediately.
  • The House Judiciary Committee proved the busiest overall, considering nearly 200 bills.
The analysis also noted the dearth of bills voted down in committee. "Committee chairs say they tended to limit their meeting agendas to bills they deemed likely to advance," the article said.

But critics of that approach, and the current committee process, include the House's longest-serving sitting member.

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