by Alicia Freese May 21, 2013 vtdigger.org Vermont lawmakers introduced 713 bills this session, ranging from decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana to naming a state native insect. Fewer than 14 percent of them passed in both the House and Senate. That might sound like a lot of legislation for 180 people working for four months to produce, but their bill-making is on pace to be pretty average this biennium.Lawmakers generally introduce a flurry of legislation during the first year of the biennium, and then the pace slows during the second year. William MaGill, the first assistant clerk for the House, said it’s typical to see 700 bills introduced during the first year and 300 during the second. During the previous five bienniums, the number of bills introduced ranged from 1,100 to 1,047, and the percentage of bills that passed hovered between 17 and 19.6 percent.Dwarfing those figures is the number of drafting requests the Legislature’s lawyers receive. This year, the 16 attorneys fielded 1,349 requests ‘this includes bills and resolutions but it does not count an untold number of amendments.The House introduced 544 bills this year, and the Senate produced 169. The House passed 81 of its own bills, and 63 of those bills also passed in the Senate.The Senate passed about a third of the bills it introduced. Of those 51, the House backed 35.That leaves Gov. Peter Shumlin with a stack of legislation 98 pieces high. He’s signed a few of them into law already, and he hasn’t given any indication about whether he’ll veto any bills.Among the 713 bills6 bills about marijuana;4 bills about dogs;3 bills about skiing;2 bills about drones;2 bills about libraries;1 bill lowering the maximum noise level of motorboats;1 bill prohibiting wiretapping unless all parties agree to it;1 bill prohibiting docking the tails of horses and bovines except under certain circumstances.A number of high-profile issues ended up in Shumlin’s stack ‘’death with dignity,’driver’s licenses for migrant workers, marijuana decriminalization. There were also plenty of bills ‘campaign finance, for instance ‘that ate up a lot of legislative time but didn’t make it to the governor’s desk.Some of the bills that never made it off the shelf still drummed up discussion ‘a total of 10 pieces of legislation, for instance, addressed firearms or ammunition and helped bring the national conversation about gun control to the state level.And then there were bills that didn’t gain any traction at all. Some of these more marginal pieces of legislation reveal the idiosyncratic concerns harbored by Vermont’s lawmakers.Lawmakers showed a particular proclivity for making it easier for veterans and the elderly to hunt and fish.One bill would have set aside five moose permits for Vermonters who have served in the Armed Forces.Another would have allowed people 65 years and older to use all-terrain vehicles to hunt on state lands. A third would allow people in nursing homes or in the care of health care professionals to fish by obtaining a ‘therapeutic group license.’Lawmakers also showed a penchant for designating state things ‘dogs, vegetables, reptiles. There was a push for making the state native insect the tri-colored bumblebee and a bill to designate the Governor Aiken bucktail streamer as the official state fly-fishing lure.There are some among the legislative ranks who think lawmakers should be more discriminatory about drawing up legislation.At the start of the session, Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, offered an amendment to the budget adjustment bill that would have capped the number of bills that individual lawmakers can draft ‘representatives would be cut off after three bills and senators after five.‘Clearly the volume of bills is such that it’s hard to keep up with. I was hoping by highlighting the problem we could at least cut down on the number of bills introduced.’And, the workload this creates for the Legislature’s attorneys, Sears added, is ‘mammoth.’Sears, by his own admission, can be a prolific drafter of bills. He was the primary sponsor of 25 pieces of legislation this year; the average for senators was 5.6.Sears oversees the Senate Judiciary Committee, which, he says, has a high level of bill traffic. By his estimate, from 50 to 60 bills are referred to his committee, while they only have time to take up 10 to 15 of them.