Ghost Bills Haunting Us

With the legislative session coming to a close, a shroud of secrecy has been imposed by both the Democratic controlled House and the Republican controlled Senate through the introduction of title-only bills.

On March 18, 2013, a whopping 23 title-only bills were introduced. 13 of which were brought to the floor by House Rep. Hunter; the other 10 were introduced by Sen. Hill.

Title-only bills provide little-to-no substantive information, therefore being the reason why they are concerning.

Consequently, the Washington Policy Center wrote, “Not only are title only bills (essentially blank pieces of legislation) not the most transparent way to introduce changes to state law (or perhaps too translucent) but they are used by lawmakers to circumvent the state Constitution.”

Brian Sonntag (D), a  former State Auditor, and Rob Mckenna (R), the state’s Former Attorney General, wrote, “While the use of title-only bills is a rare procedure, the public concern substantially justifies eliminating their use entirely,” in a letter to their legislators.

Moreover, the Columbian – a newspaper serving Clark County – supplied a similar sentiment when it said, “This gimmick [title-only bills] — also known as a “ghost bill” — is a bill written with no text, only a vague title such as “fiscal matters” or “state government” or “criminal justice” . . . Details become known later, much later — too late, in fact, as the bill accelerates down its greased skids.”

Let’s not forget that title-only bills are in direct violation of Article II, Section 36 of the Washington’s Constitution:

“No bill shall be considered in either house unless the time of its introduction shall have been at least ten days before the final adjournment of the legislature, unless the legislature shall otherwise direct by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, said vote to be taken by yeas and nays and entered upon the journal, or unless the same be at a special session.”

This is the type of disengenuous curruption we must put a stop to. Make sure to tell elected officials in Olympia that it is abhorrent to do this and we will stand for it no longer! The State is facing a $1.3 Billion budget deficit and needs atleast $1 billion more to fund education. How can these ghost bills help us to balance tnd education? They Cannot. They will only further a staggering deficit, meanwhile the State continues with a debacle in the I-5 Columbia River Bridge that will cost half a billion dollars by itself. This path is unsustainable, we ask government to live within its means just like our families are forced to at home. We ask politicians to adhere to one simple thing, their oath office. We cannot keep electing the same people that put us into this mess, to try to pull us out of this mess. Corrupt career politicians must be replaced. Its time for a change.
 
Travis Couture (Belfair)
Posted March, 22, 2013