ANALYSIS: Next year's lawmakers could craft more than 152,000 bills

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, September 25, 2014

From Concord to Carson City, next year’s lawmakers are anticipated to craft more than 152,000 bills in their state capitals and in the U.S. Congress.

According to StateNet, there will be a bump in activity from 2014 to 2015 for state and federal lawmakers. More specifically, an increase of nearly 60,000 bill introductions is anticipated from this year to next year.

In addition to new lawmakers looking to make their mark, the increase in bills expected for next year can be partly attributed to four states that meet only during odd-numbered years: Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas. Also, 26 states will be in the first year of a two-year session. As a result, lawmakers will likely reintroduce many of their bills that failed to pass during the previous two-year session.

Once the New Year starts, two states will be churning out far more bills than any other state. New York lawmakers are expected to offer 16,000 bills during their year-long session. And it’s usually the case that a fair number of bills each year in the Empire State will cover issues of interest to truckers.

Texas lawmakers return after a year off for a regular session that is estimated to result in 12,400 bills over the course of about 20 weeks. That’s about 90 bills a day on average.

Add the states of Illinois with 8,500 bills and Massachusetts with 6,700 bills and the foursome accounts for nearly 30 percent of the bills for all statehouses.

Remarkably, the number of bills that are expected to come up for review in Illinois is more than the number of total bills that are estimated in all neighboring states – Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Not to be outdone, the whopping 16,000 bills estimated in New York are more than all six New England states are expected to consider.

At the U.S. Capitol, federal lawmakers are projected to offer 7,000 bills. That equates to about 13 bills per elected official.

It’s no real surprise that states with heavy populations have a tendency to produce the biggest stacks of legislation while generously populated states typically have shorter piles.

That theory goes out the window for 2015, however, when taking a look at Hawaii. The Aloha State is expected to have 4,500 bills introduced. That’s more than the combined total in Ohio (1,050) and Pennsylvania (2,450).

And while in session for only two months, New Mexico lawmakers are expected to roll out 2,250 bills. On the other hand, Wyoming lawmakers are estimated to introduce 500 bills in about the same amount of time.

With all the time and money that states put into holding legislative sessions, it’s fair to question whether it’s time well spent. Taxpayers shell out a lot of money to keep lawmakers at capitals to review and decide about changes to laws.

Early fall typically isn’t a hotbed of activity at statehouses and the U.S. Capitol. Nearly all elected officials have returned home ahead of the fall elections.

However, once the calendar turns to January and with the potential for many new faces in the halls at statehouses and in D.C. the activity should be brisk. For some it will be their first opportunity to show voters that they chose wisely when casting their ballot. And for the rest of the elected officials it will be an opportunity to continue their pursuit of changes that voters expect.

It makes sense for voters to watch out for their pocketbooks by keeping the lines of communication open with elected officials.

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