02 March 2007

"You were wrong... but will you still vote for me?"

I am taking great delight in watching lawmakers try to squirm out of their 90 day commitments, trying, as politely as possibly, to tell the voters they were horribly wrong. I suppose what we're seeing is proof positive that this measure would never have passed the legislature and needed the public's input. There's a strong status quo bias in any institution and it's coming out in spades here... for legitimate reasons I might add.

Jay Ramras has apparently wriggled out of any responsibility altogether and the News-Miner justly chastises him for it:

Rep. Ramras was asked by a member of the Senate State Affairs Committee, which is working on legislation to implement changes necessary to conduct business in a shorter session, for some suggestions on how to remove 30 days from the Legislature’s calendar.

He had none.

Instead, Rep. Ramras, a Republican who represents House District 10 in Fairbanks, offered this to a query from Republican Sen. Gary Stevens of Kodiak:

“I’m not trying to sound cute, but would defer to the institutional wisdom you would bring to this subject matter,” Rep. Ramras said, suggesting that the members of the State Affairs Committee had the experience necessary to figure out the details of the problem he helped create. “I would encourage the committee to look at this as a living, growing thing.”

For the record, I went back and listened to my interview with Ramras from December 2005 and he did have some ideas then, including taking a look at the rules and procedures the various bodies follow. That appears to be the most sensible way to approach this - start the session later, allow less public comment, and so on and so forth. Ramras could have - and should have - come up with a lot better answer.

(The problem with small-government conservatism is that when it finally gets what it wants - less government - it can't handle the consequences, viz. the Bush administration, FEMA, and Hurricane Katrina. Is it because these conservatives are so surprised to have finally got what they want or because their ideas are completely devoid of any philosophical base?)

I am still opposed to the idea of a 90-day session and for all the reasons many of these lawmakers are mentioning. I still, of course, have a bias in this debate, perhaps as significant as that displayed by the lawmakers who are saying they're not afraid to go for longer than 90 days.

It's always fun to watch an organization try to regulate itself, from ethics to policies and procedures.

1 comment:

CabinDweller said...

I was always skeptical of the idea that The Lege could work in with a 90s day session. I mean, there were times they didn't accomplish much in 120 days.

Of course, I remember the argument in favor of the shorter session, which amounted to "Legislators dink around and waste time in the first part of the session and by shortening it, they won't do that anymore, they'll have to be more efficient."