Kill the lame duck

Lame-duck sessions make for bad policymaking. In general, good policy involves incorporating the insights of experts and stakeholders, consulting and listening with the public, and at least trying to find some middle ground with the opposing party to ensure the longevity of the policy. By contrast, the Wisconsin Legislature released hundreds of pages of proposed legislation late on a Friday evening and was voting on it by the following Tuesday night. No meaningful consultation or hearings took place. Legislative leaders then rewrote the bills in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and told their members to vote for them without a chance to closely scrutinize the text. This was no accident; it reflects the rushed nature of lame-duck policymaking.

Policies passed in the dark of night, with little to no debate, are rarely good for the public. Expect the usual outcomes of sloppily written legislation: unanticipated consequences, unclear directives—and lawsuits, lots of lawsuits.

What are some alternatives to lame-duck sessions? One option is the parliamentary model: Once the election is over, the old parliament is disbanded and cannot execute new policies.