How rushed was HB 477, the GRAMA bill?

HB477 passed faster than 99.4% of the routine bills that passed in 2011.

There have many complaints about HB 477, the bill that revised Utah’s GRAMA bill. One of those complaints is that the bill was rushed through the legislative process. The bill was publicly introduced on Tuesday, March 1st. By Friday, March 4th, the bill had cleared both the House and the Senate and was on its way to the governor for a signature. So here’s a question: Just how fast was that?

Of the 782 bills (and resolutions) introduced during the 2011 general session, the average bill aged 13.1 days before coming to its first vote. Of the 504 bills that actually passed in 2011, the average bill aged 23.2 days between its introduction and its final vote.

As you can see in the table below, these numbers are actually lower than has been typical in recent years. Between 2008 and 2011, there were typically 14.9 days between introduction and the first vote, and there were typically 26.2 days between introduction and final vote. HB 477 was definitely unusual.

So, how unusual was HB 477? In 2011, there were 21 bills (other than HB 477) that were passed within 3 days of their introduction. Most (12) of them were directly or indirectly related to the budgeting process, and it’s routine for budget bills to be held until the very end of the session. Another of them was HB497, Sandstrom’s immigration enforcement bill. This bill went through the entire process previously under a different number, so we can’t really say that it passed in 3 days. Another 5 of these 22 were resolutions, not bills, that were of little importance.1 That means there were only 3 “real” bills other than HB 477 to pass so quickly.2

Punchline: HB 477 passed faster than 95.8% of the other bills that passed in 2011. If we ignore the 18 budget bills, resolutions, etc listed above, then HB477 passed faster than 99.4% of the routine bills that passed in 2011. For more perspective on how the legislature usually processes bills, check out the table below.

2008 2009 2010 2011 Average
Bills numbered 837 896 833 928 837.5
Bills introduced 744 800 713 782 759.8
Average day of session when bills are introduced 9.2 10.8 12.4 15.5 12.0
Bills that came to a floor vote 586 633 541 585 586.3
Average age of bill at first floor vote 15.9 16.1 14.4 13.1 14.9
Bills that passed 436 518 481 504 484.8
Average age of bill at final passage 28.7 26.7 26.0 23.2 26.2

(Updated 2/3/2012 with some minor corrections to the statistics.)

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About Adam Brown

Adam Brown is an associate professor of political science at Brigham Young University and a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. You can learn more about him at his website.
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