Reading Is Fundamental, Ctd

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

The truth is, most legislators don't read most bills, long or short, and no matter how much time they have, something I have learned in 15 years of dealing with state legislators.  That is what they have staff for.  I do object to passing massive bills in short periods of time, especially with placeholders, because it gives so little time to the few voices in the public interest.  Some lobbyists will have read the bill (and made significant contributions) not always a bad thing despite the view that the public has of lobbyists, but the key, and the reason for passing massive bills quickly is to eliminate public comments, complaints, and changes to bills (which are usually a series of compromises).  It's easier for legislators, and they manage to convince themselves that its the best way to do things (rather than say let Andrew Sullivan rile up his readers so that they demand changes).

Another reader argues along the same lines:

It is not for the legislator's sake of reading that this needs to stop. What was put in that 3 AM amendment wasn't a secret to those actively participating in the debate over the bill, in fact often these late amendments are very carefully conceived back room bargains that the major parties have agreed upon. But that's the real issue, all the back door bargaining. Often the interests being represented don't know what they have given up before its too late, but as for the senators and congressman who have been paying attention they know what's in these things. Its foolish to think that they don't read it as they write it.