Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
BISMARCK -- A proposed ballot measure says North Dakota legislators must read bills and post them on the Internet before any final votes are taken.
The measure also says the Legislature must post bills on the Internet for at least four days before a floor vote is taken in the House or Senate.
Unlike with regard to Congress, this idea doesn't seem completely and totally implausible in North Dakota. According to Statenet, 1,128 bills were introduced in North Dakota in 2009 and 630 were enacted. North Dakota's legislative sessions are only 80 days long, although lawmakers get around that requirement by regularly recessing in the middle of sessions. So, at the very least, legislators would be looking at reading a few bills a day. Since North Dakota legislation generally is shorter than federal legislation (I think), they probably could do it.
Of course, just because requiring the reading every bill is doable, that doesn't necessarily mean that it would produce better legislative outcomes. That being said, if this measure led to the Micro Machine Man being elected to the North Dakota legislature, that would have to be considered a victory for democracy.
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