Half the Bills Are Bought and Paid For

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Half of the bills that pass the legislature are so-called "sponsored" bills -- introduced on behalf of a specific person, company or interest. In many cases, these bills are written by the interest -- or a lobbyist for that interest -- directly.

The San Jose Mercury News has a devastating study that looks at just how common these sponsored bills are. Almost without exception, the "sponsored" bills come from major campaign contributors.

The prevalence of such bills is particularly frustrating given the state's budget and governance crisis, which the legislature has done very little to address. Perhaps it's time to put aside all new legislation for a year or two -- and focus on constitutional reform.

And perhaps it's time to put in place a long-suggested reform idea: make lawmakers dress like NASCAR stock-car drivers, with the logos of all their sponsors on their clothing for the world to see.

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