I worked many years as a staffer for Mary Lazich when she was a state Senator in the WI Legislature. Because I did her media relations and messaging I rarely worked on helping her introduce bills, only occasionally.
Mary consistently went about the process the right way. She (along with staff) would do research, talk with concerned parties, compile necessary information. And then she’d directly consult the Wisconsin Legislative Council when it came time to actually write a bill. One of the Council’s many functions was to provide legal assistance in the development of drafting instructions for proposed legislation. In essence the Council ensured all the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed before a bill was introduced.
It’s not always done that way, and a new investigative piece illustrates that clearly. You see, some legislators are simply handed a bill written by someone from somewhere other than the WI Legislative Council. And legislators introduce verbatim what are called “model” bills, in states all across the country.
This is the kind of journalism Americans crave, but don’t get enough of.
Today’s read is from USA TODAY:
When state legislators introduce laws, it’s often not their work. The USA TODAY Network identified 10,000 times when lawmakers introduced a copycat bill handed to them by a company or lobbyist.
As part of our two-year investigation into model legislation with the Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity, we reached out to dozens of lawmakers who sponsored at least one fill-in-the-blank bill for a special interest group.
Reporters across the network interviewed 44 legislators who introduced or signed on to model bills. Some didn’t return our phone calls and emails. One “decided not to speak on the issue” after initially agreeing to an interview.
Most who did speak were upfront about where they got their inspiration. They knew the name of the organization that wrote the bill and had no qualms about copying it. Some suggested that their bills had been “tailored” to their state, though in most cases, language differences were minor.
This is a lengthy read, just under 10,000 words, but so worth it.
Please take the time go through the article that lists who in Wisconsin is doing those “model bills” the most.