200 Shadow Bills help sneak taxes along

dog-logo-stamp200 Shadow Bills help sneak taxes along
By Taxpayer Association of Oregon

Out of the first 800 House Bills to emerge from The Legislature, over 200 of them are “Shadow Bills”. These Shadow Bills are bills with no sponsor or author yet they pack a dangerous political punch. This is where some beer taxes, tobacco taxes, car taxes, communication taxes and payroll tax bills are lurking.(HB 2514, HB 2515, HB 2453, HB 2455, HB 2481, HB 2126).

With no sponsor you basically have a tax increase bill with no one taking responsibility. No author to direct questions toward. No transparency. No nothing. Just sneak all the controversial taxes through an anonymous process and then hide yourself among the other votes when it comes time to move it along. Every bill should have an elected lawmakers name attached to it – no excuses.

The same goes for bill amendments.  State Senator Alan Olson is working on legislation to make bill amendments have an author. Senator Alan Olsen is right, we shouldn’t allow lawmakers to butcher legislation or sneak goodies into bills without identifying who they are.

The 200+ shadow bills come out of a committee during the interim and they get passed out as a package with unanimous vote of the committee members (staffers say they can’t remember an actual no vote on these shadow bills). The reasoning is that lawmakers wish to collect ideas during the off-season and then have the bill language ready to debate during actual Session. If a bill is such a good idea – then it should require at least one committee member to put their name on it.

Post script: We understand the useful Legislative tool of voting bills out of committee to help end contentious debate or even kill an idea so it will help move the process along. Much like when Congress voted out of committee one of Obama’s wild-eyed budgets and it was killed on the floor with not a single lawmaker of either party voting for it. That is very different than just throwing up 200 random topic ideas, new regulations and tax bills and see where they land.

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Posted by at 04:55 | Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Would be nice to have a housekeeping rule that for every new bill introduced some existing law or regulation needs to be sacrificed. Then a cost of a new piece of legislation must be weighed when coming up for vote. Alternatively, there should maybe be 5 year sunsets on new legislation, not replacing some other regulation or law.
    There’s also the hideous legislative ruse of calling a tax a fee, so as to avoid the three fifths majority requirement. Agencies like the Oregon Health Authority love fees rather than taxes, because a dedicated fee gives their empire its own leaching ability to support its untethered growth.

    • http://cascadepolicy.org/ Steve Buckstein

      You’re on the right track, Bob, but I’ve long suggested that for every new bill introduced, at least two old laws or regulations need to be “sacrificed.” Of course that couldn’t continue indefinitely, but I bet it would be years before anyone had a real problem identifying useless or harmful laws to eliminate.

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