Who Really Writes Our Laws?

If your answer is that our legislators write our laws, you are incorrect. The term Legislator implies that they write our laws. That was the case early in the history of our country.

Those who have studied how the earliest laws of our country were written know the process was often lengthy and contentious. Discussions became arguments. Duels resulted; Aaron Burr fought a duel with James Madison and killed him. The legislators of that time took their responsibility very seriously.

How things have changed. Recently a second massive Pandemic Relief Act, 1.4 TRILLION dollar omnibus spending bill was placed in the hands of our legislators. It was not actually placed in their hands because none of them could carry it, much less read it. It soon became apparent that most of the money would be spent on things not related to the pandemic; much of it going to foreign countries. Our legislators didn’t write it and are not the ones who will pay the tab. Taxpayers (including those yet to be born) will have to pay it or eventually default on payment.

This same approach is used at the state level to draft legislation. I offer this from my home state of North Carolina; our lobbying directory. (Your state should have one of these directories.)

https://www.sosnc.gov/online_services/lobbying/directory

North Carolina has 617 registered lobbyists that rely on 885 clients who pay them. These lobbyists are the established liaison with 73 North Carolina government departments. Beyond those officially registered there are untold and unaccountable major donors who do what they can to influence the legislators.

Might lobbyists be writing or excessively influencing the creation and final version of our laws? Yes, of course. So, just how much do our phone calls or letters to our legislators influence their vote? Keep writing and calling but have realistic and limited expectations as to their impact on our office holders. 

Personal Note: I think of myself as concerned but not cynical. Not yet at least, but close.

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