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News Blog

Death by Committee at the Legislature

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2012-03-15 -

For more fun with numbers from the 2012 Legislature that didn’t make it into this week’s cover, City Weekly took a look at both party’s averages on passing bills, as well as how many bills by party never survived their first standing committee.

It was a session where outnumbered Democrats naturally were also outnumbered in the amount of legislating and promulgating they could accomplish at the hands and gavels of their Republican colleagues. As this week’s cover pointed out, 476 bills were passed out of the 2012 Legislature -- 413 of them passed by Republicans for 87 percent of bills passed.Democrats' 63 bills passed make up 13 percent of all the passed bills.

By party, however, the averages tend to show comparable rates of passage. Democrats passed 63 bills out of 115 proposed, for a 54 percent completion rate. Republicans rocked 413 bills passed out of 637 proposed, for a 65 percent completion rate.

Democrats passed fewer bills, which is understandable, but it’s also worth asking how much of a chance Democrats' bills even had. If nothing else, making it past a standing committee at least allows a bill the chance to be heard before a House or Senate floor and opened up to the first largely open debate. It’s at this stage where one chamber of the Legislature can join to kill a bill outright, pass it, or more importantly, offer the tweaks and fixes to make the bill successful and palatable to all concerned.

In the 2012 session, it turned out to be case that more Republican-sponsored bills suffered a death by committee, but Democrat-sponsored bills never to escape their standing committee made up a greater percentage of the total bills proposed by Dems.

The total of Democrat-sponsored bills voted down by their first standing committee was 14 percent of total proposed bills killed by standing committee at 12 percent

The total of Republican-sponsored bills voted down by their first standing committee was 34 percent of total proposed bills killed by standing committee at 5 percent

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