By: Saajan Vemala and Marquise Abrahams
People of the Legislative Houses are finally finishing up debates on bills and heading into the home stretch as the 69th MLC comes to an end. And as bill dockets are finalized, delegates can’t help but notice the similarities between bills from year to year.
Each year, people of the Legislative Houses end up debating the same bills. Some people view this as an issue, claiming that it prevents delegates from being exposed to new ideas.
“It sucks,” says Antonio Zanelli, lobbyist from the SPPY/WY-San Pedro delegation. “If people keep reusing bills, then there is no real exposure, especially for those who have been in Assembly for multiple years.” As a lobbyist, his job is to argue for and against multiple bills, and he claims to have consistently seen the following bills: soda tax, issues on the LGBTQ+ community, SAT prep classes, and the controversy of marijuana.
Though in some ways the reuse of bills may seem like less exposure, people are also potentially gaining new ideas.
According to Jake Nolls, Chief Sergeant at Arms from the SPPY/WY-Palos Verdes delegation, “It is really cool that people bring it back. They are learning from their mistakes and they come back to fix it. [He has] seen many bills that were not passed last year that came back and were passed this year.” Nolls has seen similar bills reused from year to year.
But why is it that we see the same bills every year? What makes these ideas reoccur and discussed and their potential to be reused for years to come? And more importantly, why do some not pass in previous years but pass in the coming years?
The answer: These bills often address the most common topics that teenagers and millennials face today.
For example, all teenagers take some form of standardized testing, which is why bills are being passed along those lines, and Millennials’ acceptance of the LGBTQ+ is also common.
“I think that reused bills do not happen because of how easy it is to be passed but because of the context in social norms that teenagers live in,” says Bridget Hansen, Volunteer Program Staff from the Legislative Houses.
“In reality, all these delegates are teenagers, and overall have the same general issues everywhere you go. They all take the SAT, they all have to take the driving tests, and this is why we see many bills come up about these topics.” In terms of these bills’ pass rate, she also said, “It really depends on the people in the Senate or Assembly. There can be conflicting views that may be harsher in previous years that make it harder to pass. People also become exposed to new ideas in the news that make these issues easier to understand, which makes it easier to pass.”