Saturday, May 2, 2009



Responsiveness to powerful interests. The transparency of the unicameral system reduces the influence of professional representatives of powerful interests and enhances the influence of less organized and moneyed citizen groups. The bicameral system, with its complex procedures and numerous, often hidden points of access, favors those who have the time and knowledge to play "inside ball." In particular, the concentration of decision-making authority in conference committees enables the paid lobbyist to influence legislative activity unobtrusively and, by swaying only a few members, to impede or advance legislation without respect to the will of the majority.

Responsiveness to diverse and minority interests. What counts in responding to diverse and minority interests is not the number of legislative bodies, but a good electoral system and the use of methodical, time-consuming legislative practices to ensure that all interests are heard and all viewpoints carefully considered. Because its decision-making process is relatively simple and efficient, a unicameral legislature has the time to provide a fuller and fairer hearing to all interests and points of view. Extended consideration of an issue by legislators in one house is more likely to deepen understanding than hasty consideration by duplicate legislators in two houses.

Experience elsewhere. The unicameral system does not over-concentrate the legislative power in Nebraska or in democratic nations that have single-house legislatures.1 In Nebraska's unicameral legislature, on the contrary, power is more dispersed than in the typical bicameral legislature. Leadership authority in the Nebraska legislature is divided among several legislators and committees, and the general membership elects not only the leaders but the chairs of committees as well. As a consequence, rank-and-file legislators have more real authority in Nebraska than they do in most bicameral legislatures, where power in each house is concentrated in one or two leaders and the members of a few conference committees.

Citizen participation. The unicameral legislative process encourages broad public participation in legislative decisions and provides members with more information to use in making decisions, because it allows citizens and organizations to channel their energies more effectively on the activities of one house. Participating in the bicameral legislative process, on the other hand, is a burden for everyone; ordinary citizens in particular are put off by the time required to attend duplicate proceedings in two houses, often followed by conference committee meetings.


1 comment:

susana said...

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