Single Subject Rules and the Legislative Process
68 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 25 Oct 2015
Date Written: August 12, 2009
Despite generating thousands of cases on important public issues, the single subject rule remains a source of uncertainty and inconsistency. The root of the problem lies in the inability to define the term "subject" using legal doctrine. This paper reexamines the single subject rule through the lens of public choice theory and finds that its purposes are wrongheaded. Logrolling is not necessarily harmful, and improving political transparency requires legislative compromises to be packaged together rather than spread across multiple acts. Riding is not a form of logrolling but an analytically distinct and more threatening practice. This analysis yields a precise, political definition of "subject" and a new framework for resolving single subject disputes.
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