In the past week, while watching bills pass or fail in committee meetings, listening to lawmakers support or oppose ideas, and watching the speakers of the two houses read through their cue cards so quickly that no one had a chance to actually say anything, I realized once again how very frustrating the process of making laws is. I spend a fair amount of time at my state capitol each year, though probably not enough. I also enjoy the luxury of watching committee meetings and floor sessions from my computer at home and can even listen to them in my car while driving.
I admit that it is often exciting.
When listening to a debate yesterday morning, I was as impassioned as one legislator became about a pro-life bill. I found myself talking to my radio – much like my husband talks to the television while watching a sporting event. Government and politics are my own version of the Super Bowl, I guess. I feel the joy of victory and the agony of defeat.
Perhaps that’s why I also get very frustrated when legislation is being considered that is irrelevant. It’s is such a waste of time. I believe if the average person knew how much time legislators wasted with petty bills, they would be furious at the equitable amount of tax dollars spent to bring those bills to light.
One example is the “Viagra Bill.” I’ve found that this is carried in at least two states by female representatives in response to legislatures comprised of mostly pro-life men. Yes, you read that right. These women are carrying these stupid bills for the sole purpose of jabbing back at men for passing pro-life laws!
What do the “Viagra Bills” say? Well, the links for both are below and you can read them yourself, but the abbreviated version requires that men have a sworn affidavit from their spouse indicating that they have erectile dysfunction, a waiting period before they can get the medication from the pharmacy, and swearing on a Bible that they will only use the drug when having sexual relations with their respective spouse. You cannot make this stuff up.
This is only one bill, though! Further legislation has included a bill that would require children up to age 12 or 4’9” tall to be in a booster seat while in an automobile (some of these kids weigh more than I do), a bill that would require children up to the age of two to be in a rear facing car seat (while kicking the headrest), a bill that would permit anyone driving in the left lane on the interstate to be ticketed if they weren’t driving fast enough (I could write a novella on this one!), a bill that would mandate which gender of students could use which restrooms in a public school (it’s really not that hard, just unzip your pants and take a look at your anatomy), and a bill that would require teachers to have their dues to teachers’ unions deducted through a bank draft rather than a payroll deduction. As one lawmaker was heard to say this week, “This is not why I came to the capitol. If I’m going to pass laws, I want them to actually make a positive difference in the lives of my constituents. This is just a waste of time.”
I hate wasting time. Don’t get me wrong – I’m pretty good at it. I can waste so much time that I simply don’t have time to wash the dishes or do the laundry. At least I’m wasting that time with a plan in mind – I don’t like doing dishes and the laundry! But I would never intentionally waste the time for which I was being paid with taxpayer dollars by considering stupid legislation.
Unfortunately, some of our state legislators don’t share that sentiment.