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    The legislature should consider one bill at a time to ensure that laws are enacted or not based on their merit and popular support, and not based on underhanded maneuvering and deal-making. Any agreements or “deals” of mutual support should take the form of a bundle of bills, where each bill in the bundle is a single-issue bill.


    This is difficult to enforce in practice, because a person can claim something is related when it isn’t. For example, a bill might be proposed for funding the national park service, and someone insists on amending it to also reduce the sales tax on a particular category of products whose leading manufacturers by market share happen to be located in the home state of that representative. These two issues are clearly unrelated but that wouldn’t prevent a frivolous argument from being made that they are related and must pass or fail together.

    In a party system where people predictably vote the same way, it can seem that there is a mass delusion in the legislature when an amendment like that is deemed to be relevant to the single-issue bill in the above example. The legislature needs tools for evaluating the relevance of proposed amendments, in order to force any deal-making to be public by creating a bundle of single-issue bills.

    When an amendment has been identified as an unrelated issue, it must be separated into its own single-issue bill and then discussions can happen in public on whether or not it should be passed at all, and compromises about whether it should be passed in a bundle with the original single-issue bill.

    Some people may say that multi-issue bills are the result of negotiation and compromise, but in practice the bills are so large that few people know the details of what’s in them, and the practice invites antics such as making demands that few people want to “win” support for something most people want, such that if the other party refuses they look bad for not voting for something most people want, but if they agree they are also stuck with something most people don’t want. While this can still happen with a bundle, the advantage of a bundle of single-issue bills passed together is that each bill in itself is clear about what it does and who supports it, so it’s still possible for legislators to make deals but it’s harder for legislators to sneak something in a bill that people don’t notice.

    Instead, compromises on single-issue bills need to be about the material in that single issue so it’s agreeable to the majority (or sufficient supermajority depending on the rules for the vote). Negotiation and compromise involving other issues can still happen but must be done in the form of bundling the related single-issue bills for a single vote.

    Single-issue bills enable the legislature to make progress on topics that have consensus, instead of catering to extremists and enacting laws that are not in the best interest of the people.

    Importantly, if a bundle fails to pass each of the single-issue bills within it can still come to a vote by itself, and if a single-issue bill has the support of the majority it can pass without the bundle. That means bundles can only be used to achieve compromises that the majority agrees with, instead of being used to subvert a single-issue bill that the majority would have passed anyway by bundling it with something very unpopular.

    Methods to identify unrelated amendments

    This section contains some ideas on how to publicly identify unrelated amendments. Each legislator can think for themselves, of course, but the problem is not whether individual people can identify unrelated content, but whether the majority party can be forced to separate unrelated items into their own single-issue bills and then compromise on them (or not) in public.

    Option 1. A low-threshold vote on declaring an amendment or any portion of a bill (and it can be more than one portion, not necessarily together) unrelated to the single-issue of the overall bill, with the intent of separating it and voting on them independently, or to create a compromise bundle and vote on that bundle with the compromise being public. The low threshold could be if 25% of the legislators agree that there is unrelated content in a bill, that it is ineligible for vote. The legislators would have to identify the unrelated content so it can be separated into its own bill. To ensure this mechanism isn’t used to block bills from reaching a vote, it must be coupled with a vote on the remaining bill. This means when the separation of unrelated content is complete, the legislators who voted to separate an issue out of a bill are automatically recorded as “yes” votes on the remaining bill. This is because if the legislators were going to vote “no” on it anyway, it doesn’t matter to them if the issues are combined or separate, and if the legislators were going to vote “yes” on both issues anyway, they wouldn’t bother objecting. The problem is only applicable in situations where legislators want to vote “yes” on the main bill but someone has added things to it that are unrelated and which they wouldn’t support at all or at least not without a compromise.

    Option 2. Use an AI tool, providing it a summary of the main bill and of the amendment, and getting a relevance score. Another possibility is to run a survey with a random sample of people and whether or how much the two summaries seem related. In this case, there is no commitment to voting for the remainder of the main bill.

    Rather than letting the machine or survey results directly decide what is relevant or not, the legislature can use the relevance score to set the threshold for a vote. For example, if the relevance score indicates the two are highly related, the vote to approve the amendment might be a simple majority vote of 50% in attendance + 1, but if the relevance score indicates the two are barely related or unrelated, the vote to approve the amendment might be an 80% (4/5) supermajority vote.

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