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Bills, bills, bills...

 March 1, 2013

As the dust settles from last week’s bill introduction deadline, February 22nd, it appears the Legislature has introduced a record low number of bills for the current two-year session. According to the final bill count, the Legislature introduced a seemingly small number of measures – just shy of 2,300. (CMTA has selected 438 bills to track.) Assemblymembers introduced 1,376 Assembly bills, the lowest amount since 2003; while the upper house introduced 813 Senate bills, its lowest since 1999 – totaling 2,189 bills all together. Making up the difference are some 109 additional measures the Legislature introduced as constitutional amendments, resolutions and various joint measures. 

An initial overview of the new legislation found a prevalence of bills pertaining to such noteworthy issues like the statewide water supply, gun control, environmental reform, constitutional changes regarding the passage of local taxes and the implementation of the federal healthcare act. In the midst of these bills, a myriad of newly introduced ‘spot bills’ are also in play this session. These placeholder measures merely outline the Legislature’s intent to address a certain issue with legislative action, but lack specific provisions or language regarding the legislation’s actual scope.

It is likely that the record turnover in the Assembly and the resulting Democratic supermajority from the November election contributed to the smaller amount of bill introductions. As readers may recall, the Assembly experienced almost a 50 percent turnover rate with 39 new Assemblymembers elected to the 80-member body following last year’s general election. With so many new incoming members, reports suggest legislative leaders pressured freshmen lawmakers into withholding legislation in order to provide more focus on the Democratic agenda. Additionally, news sources argue that recent changes to legislative term limits, combined with the luxury of a Democratic supermajority, may have reduced the sense of urgency many lawmakers have to introduce a flurry of bills during their first term.


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