Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bishop By The Numbers

Attitude. Mike Bishop recently put his on display for the entire state to see. Again. With the Michigan economy on edge (putting it politely), and the clock running down on the 94th edition of the Michigan Legislature, Bishop inexplicably decides that if things get too hard for him to handle, more vacation is definitely in order.

“We don’t want to stick around for non-essential items,” Bishop told reporters. “We want to get the job done and get out of town before the mischief-making begins.”

Bishop indicated that they would stay longer than the (tentative) nine days they are scheduled for this month, as long as they are "productive", meaning, "do what Senate Republicans want" or they shut it down. Any legislator that wants to move items of importance to them (and their constituents) better meet the approval of Bishop, or be branded as a “troublemaker”. Perhaps we should start the “Mark Schauer Memorial Mischief Maker Award” for the legislator who succeeds in getting Bishop to throw a fit and walk out.

But until then, Mike will stay as long as Mike deems it’s “productive” to do so, rest of the lawmakers and the state be damned. Problem is, Mike Bishop wouldn't know "productive" if it hit him upside the head with a two-by-four. Thanks to the handy numbers presented to us by the Michigan Legislative Website, we can check out the 94th’s production, as of 10/16/2008. Let’s first compare the number of completed Public Acts of this legislature to previous legislatures. These are the laws that were signed, sealed and delivered to the governor for approval or rejection. Here are the basic numbers:

And we can have some fun with the Excel chart maker. Pretty! Or not, if you expect to get the most bang out of your taxpayer buck:

Quite a drop on the bars, numbers down by 50%. Now before anyone looks at their feet and mutters something about "term limits make us stupid", keep in mind previous lawmakers were term-limited as well, and they somehow found a way to keep things moving, even if they only made Granholm wear out all her red pens with the vetoes she had to issue. We can assume, however, that part of the explanation may rest with the fact that this is a politically divided legislature, so we need to take a look at the Senate production only. Here is Bishop’s version of “getting the job done”:

53% of the bills introduced were passed in the Senate, a percentage well below previous Republican-controlled Senate sessions. But the most revealing number is the final percentage on enrolled bills, showing us that Bishop doesn’t play well with others.

The enrolled bills are the ones that are the final copy of a bill passed by the Legislature, both House and Senate, which are submitted to the Governor for signature. Of the 1656 bills introduced in the Senate, only 16% made it to the point were they could be reconciled with the House. Divided legislature? Sure. But here is another fun statistic - Granholm only vetoed an average of 7% of legislation passed by the previous legislatures, which, if you remember, were under Republican control.

The point of all this is - those Republicans found a way to get the job done. Bishop, well, you have to wonder why he insists on more vacation when he can’t touch the production of those who have gone before him.