For Legislators, Recycling Bills Isn't Unusual
Some bills get tweaked, while others are re-filed with virtually no changes
ANCHORAGE - Re-using old bills: it’s a common practice in Juneau, where it can take several attempts—and years of tweaks—before lawmakers get it right and get them passed.
But some bills resurface year after year, with few—if any—changes. And these recycled bills take up time and resources each time they’re filed.
Senators and representatives today said it's all part of the legislative process. But several bills filed for this year’s legislative session are remarkably similar to bills filed in previous years.
The only difference between this year's House Bill 24 and last year’s House Bill 80 is a single hyphen. Both bills deal with the use of deadly force in self-defense, and both were filed by Mat-Su Republican Mark Neuman. He did not return calls for comment today.
Another example: House Bill 1, written by Anchorage Republican Bob Lynn. It's designed to ensure that drivers licenses granted to non-U.S. citizens would expire at the same time as their legal stay in the country.
HB1 would affect both short-term visitors like tourists, as well as those on long-term visas.
But HB1 is identical to last year's House Bill 3, also written by Lynn. Testimony from immigration attorneys and an immigrant from the U.K. played a part in the bill dying in a Senate sub-committee last year.
Both HB1 from this year, and HB3 from 2012 resemble a bill Lynn filed back in 2008. Despite repeated setbacks on the issue, Lynn said today he believes the bill makes sense.
“The way it works today is, anyone with a visa, a visitor to the United States, that expires in two weeks, can walk in to a DMV and get a driver's license that doesn't expire for five years!” Lynn said at a House State Affairs meeting Tuesday morning. “This bill simply links the duration of the driver’s license to the duration of the visa, or any other legal presence document, and I think that's just common sense.”
At the Senate Majority press meeting today, a reporter for CBS 11 asked Senator Anna Fairclough about similar bills coming from the Senate.
“What's wonderful about our democracy is that anyone that has an idea, and they can convince a legislator to advance a bill forward, it becomes a topic for consideration,” the Eagle River Republican said.
Republican Senator Kevin Meyer from Anchorage pointed out one reason for—and, some could argue, a potential cause of—the recycled bills: He said fewer than 20 percent of all bills filled each session actually pass both the House and the Senate.