A Tale Of Two Laws

This year we noticed quite a difference between hearings for bills that Legislators really understand and others covering subjects with which they are not intimately familiar. When it comes to ethics and elections they really pay detailed attention to bills that effect them, such as disclosure of conflicts of interest and campaign finance rules — they write detailed laws with everything spelled out. The disparity in attention to detail shows up in the extent and insight in their questions during hearings, as well as in the text of proposed laws. When it comes to laws they seem to not understand so well, they do not, and perhaps cannot be expected to, pay attention to the details.

Compare the changes to and details in the campaign finance law, H.B. 5228, 117 pages, 3700 lines, with the single bill H.B. 5024, with 15 pages, 415 lines. 314 of those lines dedicated to a major change providing for Election Day Registration and 101 lines to the moderate change providing for Online Registration.

The Legislature is correct to specify in law the many critical details associated with campaign spending. As we have said before, Election Day Registration deserves a lot more of those critical details spelled out to protect the rights of all voters (and candidates).

We see a similar bent in the Connecticut Constitution having 31 amendments, with, by our count, 7 addressing the composition or redistricting of the Legislature. Typically those amendments are much longer and more detailed than the others.


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