What if Congress and State Legislatures were Split 50/50

I was told once by an Iowa state senator that the only time she remembered getting "real" work done is when the legislature was split 50 percent Republican and 50 percent Democrat.

This got me to thinking, what if there was a constitutional amendment that required Congress and State Legislatures to be 50/50 by the parties?

You could still hold party affiliations, still elect by party in the primary, but the determining factor of governing would be the requirement of equal party/power balance in state and federal Capitols.

One of the moves that helped in Iowa was to have shared leadership and co-chairs of committees.

If we had equal weight and balance, there would be no more "blaming the other party" for not doing anything, since whatever was done would be passed by bipartisan compromise. If the matter at hand was vetoed, all responsibility would fall to the chief executive of the state/country and there would be override opportunity by a 2/3 vote.

It might even take out the need to sign executive privilege declarations.

Here is what the National Conference of State Legislatures says about the issue:

http://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/incaseofatie.aspx

In Case of a Tie......

(Legislative Deadlock, Tied Chambers)

Every even-year election from 1984 through 2010 produced at least one deadlocked legislative chamber. Here is what legislatures suggest to make a 50/50 work.

·      View the situation as a challenge, not a dilemma.  Have the attitude that you are going to make it a success.

·      Use organizations such as NCSL to find out what other states have done who have faced deadlock. Then open up lines of communications with those states.

 ·      If possible, get a mentor in one of them—someone who is willing to help you through the details.

·      Begin negotiating as soon as possible. The negotiations will take time because this is a very stressful and often traumatic period. Have more than one person from each caucus on the negotiation team; this helps generate broader support for the final agreement. Negotiate carefully over the make-up of your committees because they play a very important role in the legislative process.

·      Put people who aren’t intensely partisan or ideological in leadership positions. Cooperation and productivity are more important than who gets the credit for each individual issue.

·      Establish and maintain good communication; it is the key to avoiding problems.

·      Don’t forget a mechanism or an "escape valve" to keep the process moving ahead.  You might need it in case important or critical legislation gets bogged down.

·      Let the public know what’s happening.

50/50. Shared power. Working toward common ground on every issue that comes before the governing body. Might be worth a thought. 

The biggest gap in growth is the gap between knowing and doing. In other words, you cannot grow if you do not do something toward growing. 

 Just as Martin Luther King said, "You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."