It's good to be chairman
O'Malleywatch has an interesting post today about the power of committee chairmen to kill legislation, more or less at will. I don't know much about the particular bill Martin Watcher describes (it's a bill that would make it a separate crime to commit an act of violence in front of a child) or why Sen. Brian Frosh, the Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman, apparently decided to sit on it for so long. Maybe he has very good reasons or very petty ones. I don't know. But it certainly goes to show how a handful of people who answer only to a small portion of the voters in the state can exert tremendous power over what legislation moves forward.
Their power really goes only one way. Chairmen can't do much to get a bill passed (witness, for example, the failure over the years to get a death penalty repeal bill out of Frosh's committee), but they sure can kill one.