And so the shenanigans in the state Legislature will continue.
That became clear last week when the effort to end the practice of “title-only” bills — offering only a vague description of the proposed legislation such as “fiscal matters” but containing no actual text of the proposed law — died without a committee hearing.
That means lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Legislature can continue circumventing the state constitution in pushing through legislation without the glare of public scrutiny in the final days of the legislative session.
We’ve been railing about this insidious practice for well over a decade. The failure of the latest proposal to bring transparency to lawmaking assures that our quest will continue.
It’s telling that the effort to end the “title-only” practice was not even debated in a committee. Legislative leaders apparently are not eager to defend the practice in the open, which would then give the people an opportunity to comment.
But this does deserve to be discussed by the public. It matters.
The state constitution prohibits the Legislature from introducing a bill with fewer than 10 days before the end of a legislative session. Last year, 26 title-only bills were introduced, with four becoming law.
For example, lawmakers used a title-only bill as way to push through a tax increase on big banks in the final hours of the legislative session. While we did not necessarily shed tears for banks, we found it outrageous that the pros and cons were not fully debated in public. The public after all ends up paying a portion of all taxes since those costs are passed along to consumers.
While the the abuse of the title-only bills is now occurring under the watch of Democrats, who control the House and Senate, Republicans have used it when they were in the majority. This is a bipartisan problem. The party in power tends to use it when it needs political cover for legislation that might be controversial.
This should not be allowed to continue. Yet, it will until lawmakers feel pressure from their constituents to knock off the legislative shenanigans and follow the spirit of the state constitution.