Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Stop Us Before We Turn Legislators Over to Businesses and Lobbyists

Public anger against the state legislature is understandable. Yet, I wish to warn against those seeking to channel that anger into an agenda that will make the legislature less accountable to the public. These are self-described conservative and libertarian interests who want to make the legislature weaker against business interests. This will make certain business leaders happy, but it will come at a cost to consumers, employees, and the public in general.

There are some business and libertarian interests who want to end the full time professional legislature and revert back to the days of a part-time unprofessional legislature. The legislature handles a range of subjects, from determining laws on business practices to operating oversight reviews of administrative branch functions. A part time legislature is far less capable to perform these duties. In the days of a part time legislature, administrative abuses were far more widespread because it was known the governmental checks and balances of powers were not in place. When the legislature was part time, business interests wrote, introduced, and had enacted the laws that regulated them, and business lobbyists were considered more influential than even legislators. Legislators had neither the time nor the expertise to fully analyze legislative proposals. We should strongly guard against any efforts to return to this kind of “good old days”.

We need a strong legislature that takes its oversight functions seriously and that carefully examines the laws and properly updates them as needed. Citizens should criticize their legislators when they disagree with them, and they should demand greater accountability when they find them lacking. What we should never do is destroy the ability of the legislature to effectively do their job.


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