Held For Further Study, or We Were Told Not To Vote On This
Andrew has been banging this drum for a while now with a post earlier this year on bills being held for further study as well as his great explanation last year of how our elected leaders could put an end to the practice. Justin has also been live-blogging from some of the hearings and from what I can tell, he might as well just write “Held For Further Study” at the beginning of each bill discussion.
However, Andrew’s explanation of how to block the practice requires two people. Two people with the guts to rock the boat and upset the people who fear a committee vote and possibly a floor vote on a bill. One easy way to keep legislators from having to vote on a tricky bill is to bury it in committee. Once a vote takes place and is on the record, voters and opposing candidates can use that against the incumbent. Or the opposite can happen, a legislator can simply tell people “I would have voted for that, but it never made it out of committee.”
I can understand the need for “Held For Further Study.” Not all bills are perfect, some require some edits, rewrites and even looking up statistics and data. That’s a perfect use for the decision. But sometimes, there’s nothing more to do.
One such example is the “Master Lever” bill, or Straight Ticket Voting. This bill has been submitted for the fourth straight year this year, all four years never making it past the “Held For Further Study” status. The bill even has the support of Secretary of State Ralph Mollis. But last week during the Senate Judiciary Hearing that Justin attended, the bill was held yet again. Why? What else is there to study? What is the more data that they need to know?
Here’s my solution. If a committee is going to hold a bill for future study, they need to explain why and what they need to know. Then give it a vote when that information comes back, or simply repeat the process. If a bill needs to be studied more, then study it! Come back with results. Stop throwing bills into the trash with this political trick.
So Senate Judiciary Chairman Michael McCaffrey, what do you want studied about that bill, what more do you need to know? Let’s get you that information and get your committee voting. Whaddya say?