This could slow down
Posted at 3:32 PM on March 26, 2007 by Bob Collins (7 Comments)
In the last few weeks, as the committees raced to hear bills before the first committee deadline, it wasn't unusual for me to put in 5 or 6 hours a day, just assembling the BH points for the MFL (I did a lot of it before and after work, bosses.). Quite often, I'd have 11 pages of House committee schedules. For Tuesday, I have 3.
After a month of the all-out, it's nice to see things slow down a bit, but just now I saw Rep. Nora Slawik thanking everybody in her Early Childhood Learning Finance Division thank everyone for their work. In other words: school's out, have a nice summer!
With committee work dwindling, the omnibus bills assembled (and dying in the MFL), things should slow down a bit now. I'm not sure there'll be big swings in points (and occasionally, standings, from day to day).
The MFL has a "modular" season. Hey, remember when the first bills were filed and the first authors zoomed to the top of the Power Rankings? Good times. But then the hearings started... and then bills started getting passed.
And now the season is moving on to the floor session stage, and the conference committee stage, and the gubernatorial signature -- or veto -- stage.
Each of these stages has brought an entirely new dynamic to the league and I have no idea what this next one will look like. You?
Up to this point in the inaugural MFL season, I think that the point system has been fairly reflective of what is going on at the Capital. Kudos to Bob for putting together a simple point system to reflect a complex process. However, at this stage of the legislative session I see some glitches that may have to be addressed for next year.
Here's the problem as I see it. Virtually any bill that has a "fiscal note" attached, i.e. money being spent, gets put into the omnibus graveyard, ending any point potential. On the other hand those bills that rename highways, name a state fruit, (anyone remember the "Honeycrisp" bill from last year?), etc. will hit the House and Senate floor with regularity over the next few weeks. The real heavy lifting will be carried out in conference committees and it's a shame that those legislators who will be working their tail off on those committees will receive no points for their efforts. I don't have a clue how one would allocate points in such a situation,
but it's something that probably should be looked at for next year.
Posted by mike simpkins | March 26, 2007 4:14 PM
True enough. Of course, in the MFL, a bill to rename highways has always been the equal of a, say, K-12 bill.
At least to this point.
The problem with omnibus bills,as we've discussed before, is the points aren't reflective of the effort either -- even if we awarded them points. The listed authors, the folks that would get the points, aren't all of the people who "helped" put the bill together. The only people that "matter" in the omnibus bills are a small cadre of DFL committee chairs.
I was watching a hearing last week, I can't remember which one, in which Sen. Sandy Pappas was discussing her omnibus bill -- must have been the education bill -- and people would ask her questions about what was an wasn't in the bill and she kept saying "I didn't think this..." or "I didn't think that..."
I thought I was watching a one-woman play.
Of course, keep in mind, too, that the MFL isn't designed to reward legislators for work. It's designed to reward managers who figure it out first that a bill to rename a highway in Duluth is going to get more points than an omnibus bill, and adjust the squad accordingly.
The other problem that the MFL was meant to address -- in terms of putting some spotlight on the work of the legislators -- was that at this time of the year... everyone is talking about the omnibus bills, and there really are other bills out there going somewhere and getting some points that aren't "highway renaming" bills. For the most part, you won't hear a peep about 'em in the mainstream media because all of its attention is focused on the big ones.
But the last thing, I think, the world needs is for a team's fortunes to rise and fall purely on the backs of the half dozen DFL "leaders" in the House and Senate who would otherwise grab all the points.
BTW, I'm still not sure there is a "next year."
Posted by Bob Collins | March 26, 2007 4:37 PM
Just had an idea for next year. What about allocating some BIG points to those legislators who get named to conference committees. Typically legislators appointed to conference committees are viewed as the cream of the crop by their fellow legislators. This would also be a way of rewarding those legislators who were in official leadership positions during the session, do a ton of work behind the scenes and maybe didn't generate a lot of MFL points due to their other duties. It also would add a bit of suspense, intrigue and strategy for teams that are behind to jump back into the hunt.
Posted by mike simpkins | March 26, 2007 4:38 PM
What you need is an intern.
That is an amazing amount of extra work you took on to do this.
Posted by Trevor | March 26, 2007 5:02 PM
Intern wouldn't work. The data is changing so often...and it's concentrated on a single spreadsheet, that you can't have it spread out among more than one person.
ONe of these days I'll write how this is done, but basically the day before I set up the spreadsheet with the committee schedules (BH points) and then add the daily bill filings (BF points) and during the day incorporate the Session Daily/SenateBriefly stuff with the Reports from Standing Committees (CP points), and then read the House and Senate Journals to make sure everything got TF (to floor) points.
The problem comes with that first part of the process. Every bill that has a hearing scheduled has to be reconciled with other/previous committee hearings to figure out how it got to its next committee stop. This ensures that all CP points are awarded -- or not. But you have to go one-by-one and figure out if a bill was passed out of committee or was recalled from a committee to make sure you're not giving duplicate points.
If you spread that out among more than one person, now you've fractured your spreadsheet, almost guaranteeing things will get hosed.
Posted by Bob Collins | March 26, 2007 5:54 PM
Don't know how you do it Bob. I have a hard enough time keeping up with reading the data you've analyzed.
Posted by Nancy G | March 26, 2007 9:22 PM
The Carriers will be sticking to our guns. To get points you gotta have bills, so pick the people who file the most and enjoy the ride. Go Carriers!
Posted by doug gray | March 27, 2007 1:03 PM