Gut and amend time

Gut and amend time

sausages - wikimedia“Laws are like sausages. You should never see them made,” is a variant on a saying by Otto von Bismarck. The old Prussian has been dead 116 years, but if he came back he certainly would recognize the California Legislature’s “gut and amend” process, which even sounds like making sausages. Except the “guts” belong to the people of California.

“Gut and amend” is going on right now. As this last week of the 2014 Legislature winds down, it means an existing bill is “gutted” of its entire wording, then “amended” to put in new content. Then it’s voted on — usually with no legislators, or only a few, having read it in its entirety. Most legislators have no idea what the “amendments” are, but just vote with their party leadership.

Given Democratic dominance, that means the Democratic leadership writes the amendments.

This happens in part because bills must be introduced by February, but then can be amended until the end of the session in August.

But the main reason is that the Legislature just sits too long. A part-time legislature, sitting for half a year once every two years as in Texas, would have plenty of time to consider real state business, then go home to see what’s really going on in their districts. Legislators also would have to get real jobs those 18 months not “serving” the people, so they would know what the rest of us suffer when taxes and regulations slam businesses or local government budgets.

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legislatureBismarckGut and AmendJohn Seiler

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