ZACHARY: Sneaky bill amendments bad lawmaking

DomeLight by Jim Zachary 

2020欧冠名单One of the biggest threats to transparency in state government is the bill amendment. 

2020欧冠名单It is so common place — so ordinary — that we largely don’t give it a second thought. 

2020欧冠名单Sometimes the amendments tacked on to bills at the last minute seem to come out of nowhere. 

2020欧冠名单The vast majority of amendments are relatively benign. 

Others, unfortunately, are not. 

What lawmakers have learned over the course of time is that amendments can easily fly under the radar and give them the opportunity to make sweeping changes to the law with little to no public scrutiny. 

2020欧冠名单Amendments are often cutouts from failed bills that never make it out of committee. 

2020欧冠名单Rather than scuttling some piece of failed, often controversial, legislation, lawmakers just tuck it away in their hip pocket, ready to tack it on to a popular or less controversial bill hoping that either no one will be paying attention, or that the bill they tacked it on to will be strong enough or popular enough to outweigh concerns over the amendment. 

2020欧冠名单In either case, it is a disservice to the people of Georgia and can be an assault on the public’s right to know. 

To be clear, there is nothing illegal about amending a bill.

2020欧冠名单But, as is often the case, doing things legally and doing them in the right way are not exactly the same thing. 

2020欧冠名单It is one thing to amend a bill to make it better, to further define it, limit its scope or prevent some unintended consequences, but it is quite another thing to use a bill for duck and cover for some provision sometimes completely unrelated to the bill itself. 

2020欧冠名单In short, the amendment process can just be downright sneaky and sometimes nefarious. 

Practically speaking, the amendment process ends up being just a way to circumvent the legislative process and that is bad governance. 

2020欧冠名单Sadly, sometimes lawmakers do not fully read the bills they are voting on, much less the amendments to those bills. 

Tacking an amendment on at the 11th hour for the sole purpose of passing some controversial or ill-conceived measure that had no chance of making it on its own is just dishonest and should be beneath the legislative process and the dignity of lawmakers themselves.

2020欧冠名单CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary is the editor of the Valdosta Daily Times and president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.