Monday, April 19, 2004

Terminating the Legislature

Texas is the second most populous state in the country, but it has a part-time Legislature that meets for about 150 days every two years (odd number years). The rest of the time, the legislators do normal business -- businessmen, lawyers, doctors, whatever. That is, they work and live like normal Texans for 580 out of every 730 days.

Not so Californian legislators. And this leads to innumerable problems because legislators with too much time on their hands and generous benefits from feeding at the public trough tend to enact stupid rules. In California, there is a movement to scale back legislative activity and make the Legislature part-time only. This would be an obvious benefit because operational costs and the too-high salaries that legislators receive from the public dole would be reduced and, as Governor Schwarzenegger noted, the legislators would not have too much time on their hands such that they'd feel like they had to fill the gaps in the legislative sessions with stupid laws. John Fund's article on how Schwarzenegger has steamrolled the most out-of-control state legislature in the country is a must read on power politics and the effectiveness of the bully pulpit.

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