Who sponsored the most bills in 2012?

As hard as he worked, Rep. Dougall was not the most active bill sponsor this session. By any measure, that was Sen. Bramble.

I’ve seen a few media reports claiming that Utah Rep. John Dougall sponsored more bills than any other legislator this session, or that he sponsored more bills than any one legislator has sponsored in any session in recent memory (see here or here for examples). This is not true. Let’s put this myth to rest.

During the 2012 session, John Dougall did indeed prepare a large number of bills. There are 23 bills clearly attributable to him. There’s one more bill that is apparently his, although there is some confusion on the legislature’s website as to whether this is Rep. Dougall’s bill or Rep. Ipson’s bill. I assume it is Rep. Dougall’s, so let’s call it 24 bills for 2012. (We’ll be generous and ignore the fact that some of these were empty “boxcar” bills without any content.) How does that compare?

Most active bill sponsors during the 2012 session

First, let’s list legislators by how many bills they numbered. Sen. Bramble tops the list, with Rep. Dougall in second place.

Legislator Bills numbered
Sen. Bramble 26
Rep. Dougall 23
Rep. Ray 20
Sen. Niederhauser 20
Sen. Valentine 19

Now, let’s list legislators by how many bills they actually introduced. That means the bill had substance, not just a number, and the legislator made a minimal effort to see the bill passed.

Legislator Bills introduced
Sen. Bramble 26
Rep. Dougall 21
Sen. Niederhauser 18
Sen. Hillyard 17
Sen. Adams 16

And now the kicker: How many bills actually came to a vote? Regardless of whether each bill passed, let’s consider how many bills each legislator managed to get through committee and bring to a vote on the floor of at least one chamber.

Legislator Bills brought to a floor vote
Sen. Bramble 21
Sen. Hillyard 16
Sen. Adams 15
Sen. Niederhauser 15
Rep. Ipson 14

Rep. Dougall doesn’t appear on that list at all. He numbered a lot of bills, but he didn’t introduce all of them, and he certainly didn’t bring them all to a vote. (He brought 13 bills to a vote, putting himself in 6th place.)

There’s no question that Rep. Dougall was very busy this session. He worked hard. So did a lot of other legislators, though. As hard as he worked, Rep. Dougall was not the most active bill sponsor this session. By any measure, that was Sen. Bramble.

Most active bill sponsors since 2007

Just for comparison, let’s look at the most active bill sponsors since 2007. I treat each year separately, the same legislator might appear multiple times in this list. This list shows any legislator who numbered 23 ore more bills in a single year since 2007. (You can find bill sponsorship data for all legislators here.)

Rank Legislator Year Bills numbered
1 Sen. Hillyard 2009 36
1 Sen. Bramble 2011 36
3 Sen. Hillyard 2007 30
4 Rep. Herrod 2011 28
5 Sen. McCoy 2009 27
6 Sen. Bramble 2012 26
6 Sen. Bramble 2010 26
6 Sen. Niederhauser 2009 26
9 Sen. Bell 2007 25
10 Sen. Valentine 2009 24
11 Rep. Dougall 2012 24
12 Sen. Bramble 2009 23

Punchline

Rep. Dougall worked hard this session and sponsored a lot of bills. But let’s put to rest this claim that he sponsored more than anybody has sponsored in recent memory, or that he sponsored more than anybody else this year. I haven’t heard him say that, but it’s been floating around in the press.

Possibly related posts:

About Adam Brown

Adam Brown is an assistant 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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