How efficient is your state legislature? Nearly all are more effective than Congress

Posted By: FiscalNote
Members of the Colorado Senate review legislation during session in Feb. 2016. The state's legislature is the most effective at passing introduced legislation. (Photo by Colorado Senate GOP / Flickr)
Members of the Colorado Senate review legislation during session in Feb. 2016. The state’s legislature is the most effective at passing introduced legislation. (Photo by Colorado Senate GOP / Flickr)

While Congress is notorious for moving slow on legislation, some states are hard to keep up with – passing more than half of the bills they introduce each session.

Colorado is arguably the most efficient state at passing legislation. Each session, the legislature introduces about 626 bills and enacts 397 of these, or 63 percent. A close second is North Dakota. The state, on average, passes 553 of the 889 bills it introduces. Idaho has a 62 percent enacted rate, passing about 348 of the 560 bills it introduces.

In terms of volume, New York, by far, introduces the most amount of bills with an average of 12,389 bills per session. However, the state only enacts about 10 percent of them. Illinois and Massachusetts follow with 6,002 and 3,973 bills respectively.

States that are most efficient at passing bills

Some states have a large volume of introduced bills, but they aren't the least efficient in passing legislation. Procedural oddities can affect efficiency, as can the nature of a state's legislative cycle.

State Avg. Introduced Avg. Enacted % Enacted
CO 626 397 63.4%
ND 889 553 62.2%
ID 560 348 62.1%
DE 369 215 58.3%
UT 773 439 56.8%
NV 583 304 52.1%
SD 318 155 48.7%
WY 364 170 46.7%
LA 1519 699 46.0%
NH 801 314 39.2%
GA 932 356 38.2%
DC 729 272 37.3%
NE 620 226 36.5%
MT 650 235 36.2%
TN 3394 1162 34.2%
CA 2415 815 33.7%
OR 1613 518 32.1%
ME 1089 333 30.6%
RI 1625 481 29.6%
VA 2805 762 27.2%
AL 1332 336 25.2%
AZ 1172 278 23.7%
AK 324 75 23.1%
TX 3600 784 21.8%
MI 1832 380 20.7%
KS 652 132 20.2%
WI 840 169 20.1%
NC 1290 243 18.8%
OK 2249 421 18.7%
KY 681 120 17.6%
VT 573 96 16.8%
WA 3140 460 14.6%
PR 803 116 14.4%
IN 1111 159 14.3%
NM 1136 159 14.0%
OH 576 75 13.0%
MS 3230 410 12.7%
WV 1918 210 10.9%
IL 6002 629 10.5%
IA 1560 162 10.4%
MD 2604 260 10.0%
NY 12389 1232 9.9%
HI 2747 254 9.2%
FL 2187 185 8.5%
SC 1892 158 8.4%
MA 3973 313 7.9%
MO 1679 120 7.1%
PA 2193 153 7.0%
NJ 3533 189 5.3%
MN 3453 145 4.2%
CT 2316 38 1.6%

Connecticut is the least efficient at enacting legislation. On average, the state introduces 2,316 bills and passes about 38 of them – leaving the legislature with only 1.6 percent of its bills enacted. Minnesota and New Jersey also have low enacted percentages. Minnesota passes about 4 percent of its legislation – or 145 of the 3,453 bills it introduces. New Jersey passes 189 bills out of the 3,533 it introduces, leaving it with a 5.3 percent enacted rate.

There are a few factors affecting the amount of legislation states pass and the volume of bills each state has during a session. Session schedule, single-party control and committee deadlines all contribute to how efficient a state is at enacting legislation. However, almost all states enact a higher percentage of bills than Congress, which passed 4.4 percent of the legislation it introduced in 2015.