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It's almost here -- that crazy time of the 92nd Legislative Session -- a pell-mell race to finish on time. Often in the first or second week of April, all this mad rush to end the legislative session will finally come to an end.

This is the time veterans of this and past legislative sessions have always lamented that the "bad" bills -- legislation that was ill-prepared, often not fully "vetted" gets passed into law.

Somehow bills that need a little more work, a few more amendments and just a little more vetting from agency and legislative staff just get passed to get it out of the way.

It is also a time that many good bills, those works of legislation which inspire change in the way we govern ourselves, quickly die, not for a lack of trying, but, heck, the sponsors just run of out of time to forge alliances or add amendments as the proverbial clock for adjournment strikes midnight.

Oh, there will be a week or so of fatigue recess and a final day or so left to come back and clean up paperwork and force adjournment.

But the true legislation of the 92nd General Assembly will end, as have all previous 91 other such sessions, like a car running out of gas. The power for the machine is cut off; the forward motion of the car is quickly gliding to an abrupt stop.

No matter how many times one grinds on the key to power up the motor -- the fuel is gone -- there is no restarting.

And then and only then, will some solons look back and say, there was more room in the proposal for change; more time was needed for better cooperation and possibly more time and space among the debate for compromise -- to bring about a better bill out of the session rather than to leave an unfinished bill stuck with a few votes shy of passage.

There is always, as they say in legislative work, the interim -- that odd year and a half between this session and the next session -- really about 18 months to work on bills that really can change the dynamic of legislation left on the table, unpassed in this session.

The interim study for a bill is always the proper time to heal a sick bill. It is a time to forge new alliances for passage, albeit, with those who did not understand the nature of a bill on its first time around. Interim study is also a time to better craft a bill.

Interim study of a bill can also unveil the "unintended consequences" or a bill that, in a short view, seems real and fair but, after a long view and commentary from those opposed to the measure, it comes to light that flaws in drafting the bill actually make matters less than optimal or, in many cases, worse than no bill at all.

Casting a bill a lawmaker has played out back home into interim study seems, at least to the small audience who championed the lawmaker to file the bill in the first place, a defeat.

But any seasoned state House or state Senate member with the long view of actually curing a problem in case law, statuary regulations or forging a new and often less complex view of taxation, safety policy or circumventing rigid rules, can often make the jump from a proposal that sounds good to a law that actually works for our state.

Interim study can also inform, with the least opposition from opposing political parties or ideological "push-back" from industry for not understanding the support and position of officials back home on a topic.

There will be some bills that languish and die on the vine, so to speak, from ill-conceived ideas that just can't be funded properly in a governor's budget.

But there are also those bills that get acknowledged by the current administration to be worthy of their support in the next session, the 93rd General Assembly that is just around the corner.

• • •

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at maylontrice@yahoo.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 04/03/2019

Print Headline: 'Sprint to finish' often sees bad bills pass, good bills up and die

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