If you’ve paid any attention to Washington, DC, over the last decade, you’ll have some idea of how dysfunctional Capitol Hill is these days. With a politically polarized nation over the last few election cycles, fueled by hyperbole laced headlines and fake clickbait in mainstream media, politicians would rather kick the can down the road than make tough decisions on important issues you get a lot of talk and little action. For political scientists who study these trends, we’ve seen over the years a significant shift in legislating from the federal level to the states. That means more bills, moving faster, that directly affect you.
But states were already more productive than Capitol Hill. A 2016 study from Quorum Analytics found that “state legislatures introduce 23 times the number of bills than the U.S. Congress does, totaling an average of 128,145 bills per year and 3.1 million words per day while in session.” In addition, states have historically been more functional, passing more bills into law than Congress. Quorum’s study showed that “19.3% of state Senate bills and 13.3% of state House bills are enacted on average compared with 3.6% and 1.9% of US Senate and House bills respectively.”
One issue area that has seen much activity in state capitals this year is election reform. Since January 1, 2021, fourteen States so far have passed some sort of election integrity or anti-voter fraud legislation, with more on the way. There is a good reason for that.
It’s no secret that with President Biden in the White House and with Congress under the control of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Democrats want to overhaul our national election systems completely, put Washington in control, and usurp power from the states and the people in the process. All of that can be found in the Democrats’ signature legislation of 2021: S.1 & H.R. 4. On a national level, AMAC Action has launched campaigns to oppose the legislation and thank Senators who have stepped up against it.
Cleverly known as the “For the People Act,” this bill would take away the power of state legislatures to draw district lines and make elections laws as enshrined in the Constitution and give it to a bureaucratic body of DC and party elites, change campaign finance laws, and centralize voting with Washington in control. The last thing we need is bureaucrats in Washington telling us how, where, and when we can vote.
In addition to the Democrats’ radical election law proposals, states have had to adapt to the pandemic while dealing with federal guidelines that didn’t always make sense or came too late. While some states like New York, California, and Michigan extended lockdowns and unemployment benefits to keep people out of work, others like Texas and Florida extended tax cuts and loans for small businesses, incentivized the dignity of work to spur hiring and reduce unemployment, and kept the economy going without raising taxes.
With Washington’s dysfunction, state capitals across the country are doing more than ever, and they are preparing for federal government overreach while taking appropriate steps to protect their residents on issues that impact people’s daily lives. With nineteen state legislatures still in session as of this writing, you can expect there to be a lot more movement on major issues in your local state capital as Washington Democrats push their big-government agenda in the months ahead.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action
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