Earlier this year there was a bill that would have replaced our bicameral Legislature with a single body. The idea was to make the legislative process more efficient.

Now we know why more efficient is not necessarily better and why passing that bill would have been a bad idea.

The quick ride of L.D. 1333 through the Republican controlled House of Representatives shows why it’s sometimes good to have a second legislative body to slow things down, ask some hard questions and give things a little thought.

L.D. 1333 proposes to shake up the state’s individual insurance market, using structures tried elsewhere to bring competition here and, its backers say, to lower insurance rates. The bill also raises questions about its potential impact on older residents, people with serious illnesses and those who live in rural areas.

Rather than try to answer those questions, the Republican sponsors of the bill have dismissed them, pushing the bill through the House on what amounts to a party-line vote, and going so far as to claim that the Democrats in opposition were just trying to stand in their way. The Republicans hold a majority in the House, so they could do that.

Republicans have a majority in the Senate, too, but that body has a different culture and instead of ramming the bill through, members took the time to read it and talk about it.

Amendments were drafted and some of the biggest concerns voiced by the American Cancer Society and others were addressed.

The bill that was approved by the Senate was tempered with ideas from the Democrats and passed with the votes of three Democrats and an independent.

But when the House got the bill back on May 12, members acted as if they learned nothing from what occurred on the other side of the State House; they refused to adopt a single amendment to ease the concerns of Democratic constituencies.

The House Republicans act as if the legislation that they conceived and drafted without input from the committee process is perfect the way they wrote it. If so, it is a rare piece of legislation because we’ve seen few proposed laws that couldn’t be improved with more thought.

The majority’s arrogance is not just a problem inside the House, where partisan bitterness is now on full display. It has spread to the budget-writing Appropriations Committee, which refused on a straight party-line vote to take up an issue regarding the fiscal impact of the bill; it was the committee’s first divided vote since the start of the legislative session. With a two-thirds majority needed to pass a budget, squandering bipartisanship on the Appropriations Committee could end up looking like a major blunder that will cause damage to the state.

The Republicans have a majority and that gives them the right to lead, but they also have a responsibility to listen to the other side.

In the end, any health care bill that passes this Republican-dominated Legislature will be very different from what would have been passed by one with a Democratic majority. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad bill — but it’s hard to believe it wouldn’t be a better bill if the Republicans had used the legislative process to improve it instead of using their majority to jam it through.

The Senate has one more crack at the bill on Monday, and in the interest of bipartisanship, senators from both parties should consider sending it back to the House with minor amendments that would answer more of the minority’s concerns.The majority calls this an unnecessary delay, but what’s the rush? The law would not go into effect until 90 days after it is signed by the governor and it would not be materially affected by a few more days of debate.

It may not be the most efficient way to pass a law, but it’s the best way and it’s the way Maine people want their government to work.