Press "Enter" to skip to content

Can’t they find the time to read the laws they write?

Brief by Central Staff

State legislature – April 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

If they don’t have time to read the bills, How do they find time to pass all those laws?

In February, our state House of Representatives passed a bill that would eliminate Colorado’s Basic Literacy Act. But it was a mistake; they didn’t mean to do it.

The bill under discussion at the time, HB 1219, merely aimed to consolidate all of the Colorado statutes dealing with educational accountability into one section of state law. But then, a floor amendment intended to revoke a small part of the statute led the staff members drafting the amendment to repeal all of the article concerning educational accountability.

Before anyone noticed the error, the bill passed and was headed for the Senate Education Committee.

If you’re wondering how such a thing could happen; it’s exactly as you suspected — no one really reads all this stuff. And the Denver Post confirmed it.

The Post talked to Representative Bob Bacon, one of a handful of legislators who voted against the bill. “I didn’t know it did all of those things either,” Bacon admitted. But he wasn’t surprised that no one noticed the error.

According to the Post, “With more than a hundred House votes in two days, Bacon said no one can read every bill and amendment that come a legislator’s way.”

But has it occurred to the House that perhaps more than a hundred House votes in two days is too many? Probably not.

As it is, Majority Leader Norma Anderson assures the public that the error will be corrected, although even she admits it may take a bit of a fight to get Governor Romer’s Statewide Assessment Program back in.