In the post-coronavirus world, we are told things will change as people alter the way they do business taking lessons they learned during the lockdown. Does that apply to governing as well?

The legislative process will change in the short term. Committee meetings may be limited or go to video, person-to-person lobbying, if it continues in any form, will have new etiquette to follow.

But I wondered if business as usual would be altered with the great number of bills that are introduced in the legislature every year.

Because of the pandemic, the legislature is taking a long spring break.  Legislators’ attention is being paid to constituent problems and dealing directly with  coronavirus concerns as it should be. But, given the time away from Sacramento, I hoped the number of bills, if not reduced, at least fewer would be acted upon, and wouldn’t that be a good precedent for the future.

Too many bills are introduced and become law. It’s impossible to know the details of all the new laws placed on the state’s citizens year in and year out. Shelves groan with the additional weighty law books added each year. I suppose that calling elected officials “lawmakers” opens the door for such production. As I’ve written before, legislators should make fewer laws and, importantly, get rid of some of the old ones. Yet, eager legislators have plenty of ideas how to “fix” problems so many pieces of legislation are introduced.

During the 2019 legislative session, 2,625 bills were introduced, 792 in the Senate, 1.833 in the Assembly. A total of 870 bills were signed into law. Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz on what they were about.

From this perspective there are too many laws. Could that change due to the pandemic altering other aspects of life? My expectation is there would be a precedent setting drop-off in the number bills introduced.

Apparently not. 

Lobbyist and attorney Chris Micheli, who follows the bill process closely, said that as of Friday, 2,203 bills have been introduced, “Slightly above average from other years in terms of introductions,” Micheli wrote.

Driven to respond to consequences of the coronavirus, there will be efforts to assert government involvement where it was not so prevalent before. Whether that will be accepted by the public as the crisis recedes is questionable.

The word from legislative leadership is that the focus on lawmaking this term will be tied to the coronavirus. If that is so, while the number of bills may not be reduced (and remember, bills were introduced before the full impact of the virus was felt), perhaps far fewer bills than normal will be passed and signed into law by the governor. At least, that would be a welcome, and maybe even precedent setting, situation.