Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The price of inexperience

Kyle Baker alerts me to this story about the rather inauspicious end of this year's session of the California Assembly.
For the Assembly, the curtain fell at midnight Tuesday after a final hour marked by animosity that began with a partisan fight that ultimately killed legislation to ban the open display of unloaded guns in most public places.
When the smoke finally cleared, Republicans and Democrats were blaming each other for the verbal scuffle -- and Democratic Assemblywoman Lori Saldana was accusing her party leaders of ineptitude.
The political slugfest began about 10:50 p.m., when Saldana began to present her controversial gun-carrying ban on the Assembly floor with only 70 minutes before the end of this year's regular session and, therefore, the deadline for acting upon majority-vote bills.

Republicans quickly made it clear they planned to "run out the clock" by debating until midnight the controversial measure, Assembly Bill 1934, which called for outlawing the open public display of guns, with exceptions that include law enforcement purposes, hunting, target ranges and ceremonies.

Democrats were alarmed by the GOP's stalling tactic because they had about a half-dozen other bills to take up, all of which were doomed if debate on AB 1934 lasted the entire hour.
I can't claim to be an expert on Saldana's bill, but it sounds like kind of a silly, symbolic one that would have done basically nothing to curb violence.  Now, if it was a bill that was important to the majority leadership, fine -- send the message out that it's important.  If it's an embarrassment to the leadership, keep it off the floor.  But it doesn't sound like they particularly cared about it one way or another, and they were rather surprised to find the minority party engaging in delaying tactics toward the end of the session.  (Duh! Read Koger's book!)

To me, this sounds like one of the down sides of term limits, which has produced a party leadership with only a few years of collective experience under its belt.  The Speaker, while a bright and interesting man, is a freshman, for Heaven's sake.  Situations like that lead to a majority party getting rolled.

1 comment:

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Colorado, of course, deals with issues like this one with joint legislative rules that force members of the General Assembly to stick to a pace that is workable in its short 120 day regular session.

Similar joint legislative rules (e.g. those in the Alaska state legislature) can similarly make up for a multitude of sins of inexperience.

Also important, if you are going to have citizen-legislators is a strong career legislative services office in the legislative branch.