Rep. Steve Hickey is “80 percent likely” to bring back his failed bill from last year which put speeding back on the points system, where repeat offenders can lose their license.
That’s my story right now at argusleader.com, a preview of a fuller look online tomorrow.
There’s something else semi-notable about it: Hickey, the sponsor, discussed it (and several other bills he’s drafting) in detail, even though the bills have yet to be formalized and submitted.
Not all lawmakers do that. Every December I call around to various legislators and ask them what they’re working on. Some, like Hickey, are happy to share. Others say they don’t have any bills they “can disclose at this point.” They hold their ideas close to their vest until finally making them public.
Obviously lawmakers who follow Hickey’s approach make my life easier, so I selfishly cheer them. But I also think airing bills out for public discussion early on lets to better bills and arguably improves their chances of passage.
Releasing bill ideas early lets more people weigh in with ideas and opinions, catching flaws and finding improvements. It lets you build up a public constituency for a bill and eliminates any objections people might have from a process standpoint, that the bill was being rushed through or that all sides weren’t given a chance to provide input.
Of course, if a bill is going to be unpopular, releasing it at the last possible minute might be the best strategy. But most bills have a month or more of time in the legislative hopper between their introduction and when they’re passed and signed into law, which is usually plenty of time for a public backlash to develop.
As Hickey wrote in an email to the full House with regards to his proposal to let a finite number of additional armed officials into schools:
Earlier this week I had a conversation with a reporter* about how I like it when legislators toss their bill ideas out in the public forum and to solicit public feedback which is really helpful in discerning if and how to proceed with a bill. So, I did that with a school marshall bill idea the other day. I also spoke with some superintendents, sheriffs and the AG is looking at my ideas as well.
This is a hot enough potato I thought to solicit your feedback as well. If you have any thoughts please email or call me.
Hickey’s not the only lawmaker who talks about bills in this preliminary stage — I’ve talked to a half dozen in the past week — but it’ll be interesting to see how public vetting of a bill actually impacts its success.