In the past, I have referred to legislative study committees as “the last refuge of legislative delay,” the fallback option when a bill that would actually do something gives lawmakers a raging case of the fantods. The Legislature has an insatiable appetite for creating study committees or task forces or, when they want to look as serious as possible, Blue Ribbon Commissions.
The appointed group then goes out and dutifully performs its task, and reports back to the Legislature — where the findings rarely, if ever, change anybody’s mind. More often than not, the report gets a warm reception followed by a quick trip to a dusty shelf.
There are exceptions; the panel on public sector pension reform did much to move a difficult process forward. But those cases are rare. Usually, formation of a study committee is just another way to kick the can down the road.
But I’ve come across a truly egregious example of a toothless study committee. I found one that seemingly never met, heard testimony, or gathered information, and never filed a report.
I’m talking about the Study Committee on Lobbying Activities of Organizations Receiving State Funds, organized by the state Senate in 2013 after some solons raised concerns with such organizations effectively using taxpayer funds on Statehouse lobbying.
I wrote about this in yesterday’s post exploring two continents on Lobby World. But there’s more to say about what happens when a study committee fails to achieve its purpose.
Which is, apparently, nothing at all.Continue reading