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< Gov signs bill | Main | Custody battle >

If there's a next year

Posted at 9:33 PM on March 5, 2007 by Bob Collins (10 Comments)

If we do the MFL next year, I think I should only track the lead author on the bill. It's silly, really, to credit 35 lawmakers -- in the case of the House -- when only 1 is really carrying the bill and doing the heavy lifting. If I'd done that this year, by comparison, it would make a huge difference in power rankings.

Comments (10)

Makes sense to only track the primary author--this is a ton of work for you to do as it is now!

Thanks again for this though - as a teacher, this is getting me more involved and engaged in the whole process.

Go Chambercation!

Posted by Doug | March 5, 2007 9:53 PM

But I LIKE the current power rankings.....

Posted by Nate Dybvig | March 5, 2007 11:29 PM

Good call. I will have to revise my strategy of drafting anyone who tacks his or her name onto numerous bills, but I think it will be for the best.

I have a fantastic idea for next year: get a helper to ease the load of MFL. Tracking votes has the potential to be an excellent intern job. I'm not saying it should be their sole duty-- I was just there, so I feel for my fellow interns-- but perhaps part of the job. It's something to think about.

I'm really looking forward to there being a next year! Hang in there, you're doing great!

Hanging Chads are moving on up... s..l..o..w..l..y..

Posted by Jen | March 6, 2007 1:48 AM

I do too, Nate. But I got to thinking last night as I was going over today's committee schedules and assigning the BH points -- there are people high up on the Power Ranking list that I haven't seen testify before a committee... once. Now, I'm sure they have. But at the other end of the spectrum, especially in recent days, I see one lawmaker who is lead author, go from committee to committee. To me, that suggests two different levels of productivity. And yet, the scoring mechanism treats both equally.

Just noodling on it...

Posted by Bob Collins | March 6, 2007 8:05 AM

I agree that some tweaking on the points system next year may be in order as far as tracking individual bills. However, there is often much more involved when a legislator signs on to a bill after it is filed, especially when it involves a legislator from an opposing party. Effective legislators are skilled in "horsetrading", offering to help a legislator move a bill with the tacit agreement that it will be reciprocated somewhere down the line on another piece of legislation. This not only happens between opposing parties but also very often between metro and rural legislators. I think it is appropriate that legislators who display true bipartisanship be rewarded with points, however maybe not as much as a bills original author.

It is also very common for legislators in leadership positions to pass off the "chief author" responsibilities to another member of their caucus. This is done for a number of reasons including time constraints, building up the resume of a new legislator, giving a new legislator some "face time" for the media, or utilizing the special skills or knowledge of a particular legislator.

As we discuss tweaking the point system for the MFL I think it is important to remember that the "superstars" in the league are GREAT legislators who work in a bipartisan manner to move the State forward. On the flip side, if one looks at the bills authored by many of those towards the bottom of the rankings, their bills are often very partisan with little or no support from the opposing party and thus have very little chance of advancing through the process.

It was brought up a few weeks ago that there may be some way to track individual bills that end up in the various "omnibus bills". I would hope this is still possible as much of the most significant legislation will end up in an omnibus bill.

Jen's idea is definately worth exploring as far as having an intern assist on the MFL next year. What a fantastic way for someone to learn the ins and outs of the legislative process.

Posted by mike simpkins | March 6, 2007 9:21 AM


As a guy who has benefited so much from Jim Abeler and Kathy Tinglestad putting their names on just about everything moving at the capitol that isn't human, I love the current rules. But I also know how much work this has to be for you to keep tabs on all that is happening.

If you choose to play again next year, (and I do hope you do) I think the lead author rule is good, and I think you should then allow omnibus bills to earn point for any chief author who gets their bill included.

Posted by Nate Dybvig | March 6, 2007 9:38 AM

It's not really a workload issue -- although it's not NOT a workload issue either, but one of trying to ascertain (and remember, I don't know that much about the inside process here) the value of someone who is listed as an author, especially those who come in after the bill is filed. I assume the bill was written by the lead author, I assume they're the ones who worked with the revisor etc.

There's also the nagging question I have about the same 6 or 7 legislators attaching their names after the fact. Are they REALLY doing something to advance the bill? Or are they looking for something to tell the constituents? I don't really know.

But I DO have one workload saver. I have a macro set up on Word for certain legislators, so that I can more quickly update the bills (they're all on one honkin' document), I can just scroll along and hit CTL-B, or CTL-A, etc. (g)

One of these days I'll write a piece about how a typical day of scoring goes. Since it's all concentrated on one spreadsheet (I see some automation in the future), it makes it difficult to spread a workload out.

Re: Omnibus bills. I'm waiting to see what they look like when they come out. if it's possible to get a breakdown of what bills are in the bills, it will make it possible to assign points to the bill as a whole and include them. Of course, what happens as stuff gets amended on the floor is another nightmare.

Minnesota is really at the forefront of access to th data that makes MFL go. But looking ahead, an XML feed of legislation status would REALLY be a step in the right direction.

Glad to hear everyone's having a good time. Me too.

Posted by Bob Collins | March 6, 2007 9:56 AM

Bob observes "there are people high up on the Power Ranking list that I haven't seen testify before a committee... once."

Would it be too complicated to create a scoring category based on commttee testimony? I agree that it doesn't make much sense to award points to the legislator that says "yeah, sign me up for that" and never follows through, yet it also seems likely that rewarding only one legislator isn't necessarily accurate either.

Posted by bsimon | March 6, 2007 11:09 AM

How about giving the bill sponsor 50 points and the co-sponsors lesser amounts, like 10? (When the bill is signed, next year).

I heard the ominous word Omnibus at the State Office Building today . . . so sounds like it will be happening with Health and Human Services bills.

Only one comment made when that topic was brought up a few posts ago . . .

Posted by Nancy G | March 6, 2007 6:56 PM

Most of the major committees combine a lot of legislation into omnibus bills, I believe. If you follow some of the committees on the Web -- or read Session Daily or Senate Briefly -- you'll see that in some cases, virtually all of the bills heard "are laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill" for that committee.

It'll be interesting to figur eout how this is decided. I suspect that the Kelliher/Sertice and Pogemiller end up deciding what ends up going in and what gets left out and I'm not sure how transparent that process is.

Sure as shootin', though, not everything getting laid over is going to make it.

Posted by Bob Collins | March 6, 2007 9:18 PM