December 16, 2004

Re: Getting to Know Them

Carroll Andrew Morse

I do not disagree with the idea that more information about the state's legislators would benefit the democratic process, but I am not convinced that biographical data or past voting records are the most important pieces of information that a state-level blog can compile.

My biggest complaint about local legacy media legislative reporting is that it is hard to get a sense of what issues are to be voted on much more than a week before the vote happens (with a few high-profile exceptions, like separation of powers or the casino issue). Part of the problem is that lots of important action can happen in committee and that legislative rules are extremely dictatorial. House/Senate leadership and committee leadership have tremendous power to decide which bills live and which bills die using scheduling powers and the like. My sense is that state government fails to be properly representative, not because all of the legislators conspire together, but because legislative rules make it possible for a few members to manipulate the system, and the rest just go-along to get-along.

Thus, I think the best use of blogosphere electrons with respect to the legislative process would be applying the "collective brain of the Rhode Island blogosphere" to tracking [maybe even writing?] legislation, and keeping progressive changes from disappearing into the Hobbesian world of legislative combat.