Monday, February 22, 2010
The unnamed Courier editor echoes a big chunk of The People's Business this past weeekend, pointing out lawmaker initiatives that pretty obviously waste the Legislature's time.
I'm not sure he goes far enough. More than "a few" are pointless, silly, venal or evil. It's worse in an election year (that is, every other year) as legislators trot out the hobbyhorses that they think will attract votes.
The trouble is, that's exactly what they're elected to do: express the will of the people as they see it. By their actions shall ye know them, and if they're not up to the task of office, it's not really their fault -- blame the voters who put them there and keep them there. It's pretty easy to spot the silly, and the incompetent, and the evil when they're running for office, if you pay attention and know what to look for. Dumb legislation ought to get them boosted out after the first term. To the Legislature's credit, only one of the bills the editor mentions, the divorce bill, is making any headway in the process. That's also how the system is supposed to work.
But hold on: The editor concludes that rather than spend any time on other legislation, "it is justifiable to ask them to concentrate on this (the budget) and only this," even after saying "many of these measures ... will be for the good of Arizona's citizens."
Perhaps the editor was otherwise occupied last year, when Senate President Bob Burns (who also appointed himself chair of the Rules Committee and so holds more power over lawmaking than any legislator in AZ history) decided arbitrarily to halt all other legislative processes until the budget went through. The upshot was that the session lasted into August, the bills that squeaked through in the last minutes were ill-considered, and despite two special sessions the budget never got finished anyway. They're still working on it, and they're already months late in getting started on 2011.
These are clear and direct results of legislative inexperience. Burns was elected Pres only because smarter and more experienced pols were termed out. Ken Bennett would not have made those mistakes. Inexperience across the board in the Legislature allowed the debacle to go forward. Here are the results of the term limits you so love, editor: silly bills, wasted time, venal behavior and a bankrupt state.
(Prescott cable subscribers can hear replays of The People's Business on Tuesday at 11:30pm and Thursday at 7am on Access13.)
at 9:05 AM