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Does California Pass Too Many Bills?

Ben Bradford/Capital Public Radio

Ben Bradford/Capital Public Radio

The California Legislature passes more bills than all but four states in the U.S., according to an analysis from BillTrack50, a website that follows state legislation.

Lawmakers passed about 2,000 bills in the most recent legislative session, which ended in August.

"To give you an idea, the mid-point, No. 25 Montana, is 500," says site founder Karen Suhaka.

She says Texas passed the most bills, about 6,000.

"But a lot of those are fluffy," Suhaka says. "Naming post offices and congratulating football teams."

Suhaka says about 40 percent of introduced bills ultimately pass.

UC San Diego political science chair Thad Kousser says the number of bills California lawmakers pass has been a point of contention.

"I think the problem that people see with having so many bills in California is, is the Legislature equipped to give enough scrutiny to thousands of bills coming through the process every year?" Kousser says.

To limit the flow of new laws, in the 1990s, the Legislature capped the number of bills each member can introduce at 40.

Kousser says many of the bills that do pass have only minimal impact on the state.

"It is only this group of four to five hundred significant bills that get debated that actually have some 'No' votes that are having this broad impact on all of us," Kousser says.

Ben Bradford

Former State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covered California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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