31 October 2006

News bias

I've already explained why I won't be voting in favour of a measure to limit the legislative session to 90 days so it's no surprise that I find myself agreeing with the ADN's editorial in opposition:

Proponents of Ballot Measure 1 say a 90-day session limit is the answer.

Trouble is, it won't work.

We won't get any better legislation with a 90-day limit than we do with a 121-day limit. Lawmakers can always extend the session. Lawmakers and the governor both have the authority to call special sessions. Difficult and complex legislation may require time that doesn't fit neatly into a prescribed limit.

The proponents of measure 1 have identified a problem - wasted time in the legislature - but they've picked the wrong solution. A shorter session doesn't help lawmakers waste less time, it just gives them less time to waste. If we really want good legislation that is soundly considered, we need new lawmakers who are committed to governing.

To be totally fair, however, I think both the ADN and I need to point out that we have an inescapable bias here. When the legislature is in session, it's relatively easy to generate news (some urban lawmaker is always trying to screw the bush), which isn't always the case at other times of the year. One could perhaps argue that our principled opposition the measure 1 is nothing more than the base expression of a bias in favour of filling our pages and air time.

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