NJ lawmaker wants to limit the amount of bills sponsored
It is not uncommon for New Jersey lawmakers to introduce bills to get recognized or to capitalize on a scandal or a tragedy, but Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-Randolph) is looking to put an end to it.
Bucco is spearheading legislation to limit the number of bills lawmakers would be permitted to introduce. He said allowing legislators to introduce unlimited bills runs up costs and wastes time.
"Under my bill, senators would be limited to only introducing 25 bills per two-year legislative session and in the Assembly, legislators would be limited to 15 bills," Bucco said. "Right now, thousands of bills are introduced and they go nowhere. It's just crazy and the current system promotes that because legislators just keep putting in bills hoping that one of those bills will get a hearing."
In the Assembly alone, almost 5,000 bills have been introduced in each of the last three sessions. In the 2012-2013 session there were 62 bills per member. Bucco's bill lowers the maximum to 1,200 Assembly bills.
"If you're a legislator you will have to focus on important issues. If you're a legislator you're going to think twice before putting in a bill to license bicycles," Bucco said.
A concurrent resolution sponsored by Bucco proposes a constitutional amendment that would require the Legislature to consider every introduced bill in committee. The two pieces of legislation could make for interesting discussions in the Bucco family. Assemblyman Bucco's father, State Sen. Tony Bucco is currently signed on to almost 200 bills.
"I haven't told my father about the bill yet. He may be worried about this," Bucco said with a laugh.
Under Bucco's measure, once a bill is heard by a committee it drops off the list and doesn't count toward a lawmaker's bill limit. The legislation also requires the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services to calculate the cost of every bill and provide an accounting of how money each legislator is expending on his/her legislation.
"Our constituents would be able to go and look at how much it costs the state to prepare the bills we requested and on top of that they'll be able to see how many of those bills actually got approved and were signed into law," Bucco explained. "It'll essentially give constituents a gauge to evaluate how effective their legislator is."