EP 307 How a Bill Doesn’t Become a Law

How do you imagine most bills are constructed in state legislatures in America?  Is it by one aggressive lawmaker having a novel idea and drafting the bill from scratch for their fellow legislators to review and vote on?  That’s one way, but increasingly there is a trend of policy plagiarism or cut and paste legislation that goes viral across the country.  These pieces of legislation might start with interest groups, industries or political operatives that want to make heroes of local legislators and build momentum throughout the country for their cause or policy. In many cases, the origin of the bill is difficult to trace and the sponsoring legislator may not even know how it arrived on his or her desk, but just that it was well within their philosophical sweet spot.  While both sides do it, conservatives have a big leg up in the process by affiliation with ALEC–the American Legislative Exchange Council which holds conferences and writes numerous pieces of legislation that find their way throughout the country. USA Today, the Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity have studied the impact of fill in the blank lawmaking for two years now  and Liz Whyte, a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, describes their findings on this episode.