“Read the bill” legislation deserves the full House’s supportPolitics

Picking up on Shaun’s post about the goodies tucked into the state’s budget…

Senator Ralph Smith has a bill that would, if nothing else, give the worthies a little bit of time to read, and perhaps even understand, the budget bill before they are asked to vote on it. SB 1161 states:

Provides that no legislative action shall be taken on the conference committee report on the biennial budget until the conference committee report has been posted on the General Assembly’s website for at least 48 hours.

As he has in past years, Smith had originally proposed a 72 hour posting window. But the 48 hour version that won unanimous Senate approval is still light years ahead of current practice, where the conference report can land on legislators’ desks minutes before the final vote.

The question no one seems to have a good answer for, though, is why, after years of watching the Senate dispatch Smith’s proposal without a second thought — usually at the hand of the Senate Finance committee — has the bill made it this far?

For one, it remained in the Senate Rules committee this year, where it received unanimous approval. Second, it seems to be of a piece with Sen. Norment’s bill that would require the earmarks inserted into the conference report to be listed.

Has the Senate decided to embrace the sunshine? Perhaps. But no matter the reason, Smith’s bill, and Norment’s, deserves the full support of the House of Delegates.