Dear Old Phart,
I am a high school student. Next week we are going to have a test on “How A Bill Becomes A Law.” I don’t understand it; it seems so complex. Can you explain it to me in a simple way? I can’t afford to fail this test.
Dear Sophmoric Sophomore,
I can help you with this. In another life I worked in government so I have a good idea how the process works.
In federal government, the way a bill becomes law is simple–it doesn’t. Because of filibusters, incompetent political leaders, ideological Congressmen, the right wing media (FoxNews) the left wing media (MSNBC) and the media no one listens to (Wolf Blitzer), nothing ever gets passed.
In state government, it is a little more complicated as each state is different. But while the process varies by state, the principles are remarkably similar.
First a well-funded special interest group comes up with an idea for a bill. Then the special interest group spins a story how such a bill would be good for everyone in the state, even though the bill’s real purpose is to make a lot of money fot a select group of greedy bastards.
Next the special interest group contacts a state legislator it has bought off, uh, I mean, to whom it has given a lot of campaign contributions. This legislator sponsors the bill.
The state legislator then finds other legislators who receive campaign contributions from the special interest group, or would like to, and calls them co-conspirators, uh I mean, co-sponsors.
Then the process gets a lot more complex with committee meetings and votes interspersed with lobbyists buying lavish meals and mixed drinks for hardworking public officials. And yes, if lucky, some gruesome legislator who is uglier than the cattle he raises, gets to have some moo time with a winsome corporate lobbyist who has earned her reputation by learning how to give some to win some.
Eventually the legislation makes it to the Governor’s desk to sign into law. After signing the bill the Governor gives the signing pen to the leader of the special interest group in exchange for thousands of dollars worth of independent campaign expenditures. (Proving that indeed the pen is mightier than the sword!)
How does a bill becomes a law in the federal government? “It doesn’t.”
How does a bill becomes a law in state government? “Money.”
The above summary is all you need to know for your test. If the teacher has a problem with it, hack her social media account and tell her you are thinking of forwarding her drunk party pictures to the school board.
You’ll ace your test and, who knows, you might have a bright future in politics!