The pros and cons of special legislative panels

May 14, 2013

This legislative session, Illinois lawmakers have proposed creating about two dozen special panels. These task forces would examine topics ranging from how schools are funded, to government transperancy to high school students' drug use.  

Lawmakers say forming a group of experts helps them understand complicated issues, and how to best solve problems. But Kent Redfield, a political scientist at the University of Illinois Springfield, says lawmakers also use them to delay making tough decisions.

"If you've got powerful interests on both sides of something and they're not coming to an agreement, then it's a way of recognizing the issue, but essentially putting it off."

Legislators are also not required to follow the recommendations task forces make. Still, Redfield says they can be useful because they bring attention to complex or emerging issues.