Tag Archives: legislatorland

Institionalized Secrecy in Legislatorland

Closed-door meetings and private discourse are institutionalized in Legislatorland, perhaps fundamentally because of a provision in Article II, Section 22 of our state constitution that says:
“The doors of each House and of committees of the whole shall be kept open, unless when the business shall be such as ought to be kept secret.”
The constitutional call for open government, thus, is basically meaningless. Note, first of all, that this doesn’t cover anything except the full-attendance meetings of each house, the House and the Senate. Meetings as a “committees of the whole,” a procedure rarely used in modern times, means that all members of the House and Senate are present, but that they are functioning as a committee for procedural reasons.

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Fable, Part 2: Good King Billy Learns of Legislatorland

And so the counselors of Good King Billy, at the outset of his reign, were summoned to the presence of the monarch, who proceeded to speak unto them thusly:
“A wondrous vision has come unto me of change that shall come to pass under my rule in this land of the Tense Sea, wherein children now foolish shall become filled with knowledge in their Temples of Learning, wherein the common people now wretched shall be gainfully employed and wherein the noble barons of business and even ordinary merchants shall be freed of onerous edicts issued by kings of old, to whom I mean no disrespect, so that they may assist children in their learning to perform beneficial tasks of the future and their parents to prosper such tasks now.
“This vision shall be called the New Normal. I hereby decree that it shall be done. And without any expenditures from the royal treasury, save that necessary as incentives to the barons of business and such as may be necessary to maintain health and happiness of the people.
“Toward that end, I declare that ye shall conduct a top-to-bottom review of the Old Normal to ascertain the revisions that need be made for the New Normal, so that I may issue the appropriate edicts. For I humbly confess, forsooth, that I am sore perplexed by many things of which I hear from those subjects who beseech me for the granting of favors.
“I further command that a great sword be forged, as also pledged in my campaign of the red umbrella and chocolate pie, that shall be called Dashboard and be made mystical by the kingdom’s best magicians so that it may guide me in the accomplishment of royal deeds.”

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