Our Opinion: Shorter session does not advance good government
News Tribune editorial
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Good government is not dependent on a time element.
State Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, wants to trim the legislative session from 18 weeks to 12.
“The idea I had,” Lamping said, “essentially, had most to do with just being more productive. Not wasting time, but making the best of the time that you have here.”
Many jobs, including journalism, have deadlines, which means doing the best job possible in the allotted time.
Reducing the amount of time, however, does not necessarily translate into a better product.
Missouri voters in 1988 changed the Constitution to establish the regular legislative session from early January to the second full week in May each year, followed by a veto session in the second week of September.
Lamping’s proposed amendment to the Constitution would establish the end of March as the conclusion of the regular session and move the veto session to June.
Is time wasted during the 18-week duration of the regular session?
The legislative process is complicated — sometimes convoluted.
Bill are introduced; committees established; information studied; hearings held; issues debated; amendments offered; votes taken; proposals advanced; conference committees formed; compromises sought.
Even under optimum conditions, the process involves lulls in the action — lulls that may be advantageous gather more information, hear additional arguments or simply ease intensity.
Recently in this forum, we cautioned lawmakers to avoid haste and to research issues thoroughly to avoid unintended consequences.
We see no advantage to shortening the legislative session.
Good government depends on the quality of leadership and representation, not the quantity of time spent.