They are poring over the amendments to the House Ways and Means Budget that’s what they’re doing. Thanks to the Globe for this nice picture of Speaker Bob DeLeo and Chairman of HW&M Brian Dempsey doing the poring.
A very well researched article in Commonwealth Magazine documents the so called “drop off ” in legislative debate over the years. This lobbyist does not remember fondly those standing around for 10 days on those hard marble floors as the House or Senate waded through the budget debate line item by line item by line item, culminating finally in an all night session that finished at dawn.
Walking out of the State House under the cherry trees in full bloom to a city just waking up I always hoped my presence as an advocate had prompted a positive response from Leadership to move my clients proposals forward, but I was never sure.
Commonwealth’s article says in part
“Lawmakers and political observers say the drop-off in legislative action is a reflection of a culture that has taken hold on Beacon Hill in recent decades that emphasizes efficiency over debate. House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray have largely maintained that course, preferring wherever possible to work out differences behind closed doors and use public legislative sessions to execute those decisions.
Maurice Cunningham, a University of Massachusetts Boston political science professor, is concerned about the trend. “You want [lawmakers] to be doing their job legislating, getting things out of committee,” he says. “Some of those things aren’t really happening. You don’t want to sacrifice a vibrant democracy for efficiency.”
I wonder today what two of Commonwealth Magazine’s key players, Greg Torres who served as chief of staff to Senate Ways and Means and Bruce Mohl who worked at the Globe’s State House Bureau at the same time, are thinking today about the relative importance of efficiency vs democracy in the legislative process.