Home Virginia Politics Excellent Posts by Sen. Chap Petersen and Del. Scott Surovell

Excellent Posts by Sen. Chap Petersen and Del. Scott Surovell

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If you’re hanging out this afternoon and want to read what two really smart Virginia Democratic elected officials think about “the process” by which laws are made here in the Commonwealth, click here for Sen. Chap Petersen’s musings and here for Del. Scott Surovell’s thoughts. According to Chap:

My complaint is with the process.

When you have a bill on deregulation in Richmond, much akin to the power company dereg from 2007, you always get your info from the industry.  There is no countervailing lobby to break down the legislation on behalf of CONSUMERS.  The legal staff here is great for writing or amending bills, but they’re not paid to discuss consequences.  

If you’re a lawmaker (with one paid staffer), you basically have to research these things on your own. Needless to say, with over 2,000 votes in a session, you’re unlikely to do that.

The remedy to me is to have someone at the State Corp Commission or AG’s office who is specifically assigned to study public utilty issues and give presentations regarding legislation when it’s before the Assembly. (The SCC does this already for “rate cases”).

Without this type of professional analysis, lawmakers are at the mercy of lobbyists. It’s a system that is ripe for abuse. Maybe this bill is proof of that. Maybe it’s not. But it’s fair to say that few people knew the difference before they voted yesterday.

Scott Surovell adds:

An involved, vibrant, and engaged legislature sheds more sunshine on policy making. The idea that we can carefully consider 2,500 bills and take 2,000 votes with the care and consideration that we owe our constituents is unrealistic.

[…]

It’s not a system that designed to yield the best results for our constituents.

No, it certainly isn’t. Instead, it is a system that produces fiascos like this and this and this and this and this and…on and on we go. Unfortunately, where it stops, we all know – more and more terrible legislation getting passed, without almost any consideration by lawmakers, let alone by citizens! – given that our lawmakers don’t even have the time required to study and understand extremely complex issues that could greatly affect all our lives. Is this any way to run a representative democracy? Not in my book.

  • Teddy Goodson

    put anything into any of our constitutions to allow for, say, am obmudsman for the citizens? A formal economic and social analysis of the results of proposed legislation? Well, if not, then how dare these activists suggest such a thing? Conservatives and strict constructionists will have an absolute hissy fit; are’t the legislators themselves supposed to be representing their constituents here?

    Of course, none of the Constitutions mentions political parties, much less lobbyists, either.

    Lobbysists do serve a function, in providing some information on the consequences, intended and unintended, of legislation—- what’s missing is, as Chap points out, any kind of non-ideological, honest analysis, even of the type offered to national legislators by the CBO. So, Chap, why not submit legislation to set up a Virgnia Office of Analysis (which goes a bit beyond the mere dollar analyses of the CBO)? You say we can’t afford it, due to budget constraints?  Sometimes, you have to spend a dollar to save even more dollars.