Today, the second session of the 106th Nebraska Legislature convenes. Last year, 739 bills were introduced. Of those, 255 (roughly 1/3) were signed into law and 3 were vetoed. A resulting 481 bills were carried over. The first ten days of session are when new bills are introduced. It is anticipated another 500-700 bills will get introduced in 2020.
During previous sessions, fellow Nebraskans have commented that the Legislature, “isn’t getting anything done.” Similar comments have been made by some of my government affairs colleagues affiliated with think tanks in other states.
I can’t help but wonder, though, how do we measure public policy success? Is it the number of proposals that get introduced? Is it a percentage of bills that get passed? Is there a minimum number of bills that should be passed? Or, is it some other threshold?
I think the answer is the latter. Take a moment to reflect on laws that have passed in previous years already. Several of them have eroded our economic freedom. Laws have passed increasing bureaucracy and government spending, granting tax levying authority, creating tax credits and tax exemptions, imposing burdensome regulations for small business owners and requiring workers in approximately 200 occupations to get the state’s permission to work.
Like many Nebraskans, I do hope the Legislature passes tax reform this year. If not, there will still be bills that inevitably pass. Some liberty lovers would say passing zero laws would be a success, but we know this is not likely to be the case.
If laws are going to pass in the 2020 session, I hope they are laws that reduce spending, repeal tax carve-outs, reduce regulatory burden for businesses and make it easier to pursue the occupation or business venture of one’s choosing.
I will consider the legislative session to be a success if increased economic freedom for Nebraskans is a result. The passage of the number of bills repealing previously imposed economic burdens should outweigh the passage of bills imposing new ones.