There are days when you really have to wonder about what government, in any shape or form, truly accomplishes anymore. Today - the last day of the 82nd Texas legislative session, otherwise known as Sine Die – is one of those days.
As it stands, legislators in Texas will be called back for a special session because they have yet to finalize a budget. They have come to a standstill regarding the $27 billion budget deficit. Of course, they all knew what the economic situation was like long before they arrived in Austin for this session. But after their obligatory 140 days of work (every 2 years), they still have no solutions.
I you had a bill or piece of legislation that died in committee, or was left pending ... guess what? You get to wait 590 days or so ... before you get to start the process all over again. More money, more time, and less accomplished – again. And more often than not, it has absolutely nothing to do with what is right for the constituents.
Republicans and Tea Partiers nationwide proclaim the need for “less government”. Republicans have a majority in the Texas House and Senate. My question is, can anything less be accomplished by government than already occurs? Were the founding fathers aiming for representation by population? Or representation by campaign contribution?
But wait – there were some things accomplished this session. It’s a rather interesting list indeed.
Let’s take a sample day in the life of Texas government. On any given day, there are a whole host of bills that pass, taking up valuable time, money, and effort on the part of legislators. For example:
HCR 134: Declaring Lamesa the Legendary Home of the Chicken-fried Steak.
HCR 136: Commemorating April 2011 as Safe Digging Month.
SR 746: Commending the Austin Downtown Founder Lions Club on the occasion of its 95th anniversary.
SR 816: Recognizing April 24, 2011, as Texas Meningitis Awareness Day at the State Capitol.
And these were but a few of the bills filed on that very same day:
HR 1445: Congratulating Edgar and Elizabeth Brown of Dallas on their 70th wedding anniversary.
HR 1447: Congratulating the Artie Henry Middle School band on earning the 2010 Sudler Cup.
HR 1448: Congratulating nominees for the 2011 Excellence in Teaching and Unsung Hero Awards, sponsored by the Midland Chamber of Commerce Education Committee.
HR 1449: Congratulating Roy and Marylyn Byrd of Lamesa on their 50th wedding anniversary.
HR 1452: Honoring Stewart Title in San Antonio on the 100th anniversary of its founding.
HR 1454: Congratulating Delbert and Carolyn McDougal of Lubbock on their 50th wedding anniversary.
HR 1456: Commemorating the 128th Doans May Day Picnic on May 7, 2011.
HR 1457: Congratulating Austin Wayne Self on his victory in the opening event of the 2011 NASCAR Texas Super Racing Series.
Now imagine that you have actually proposed a bill that could affect Texans favorably. Maybe you waited 15 hours before the bill was presented in committee. Maybe you found yourself waiting even longer than that. I suspect that most people can’t (or won’t) stick around until the wee hours of the morning to provide testimony in support of or opposition to the bill.
Worse yet, imagine not having your bill heard that day because the legislature was busy making resolutions about three wedding anniversaries. As I have said before, I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up.
Politics has become more about lobbyists and special interests than it is about doing what is right. Lobbyists impose bias on the legislative system, and I really don’t think that was something the founding fathers had envisioned as being integral to the democratic process. There is absolutely no way that a legislator can remain unbiased when they are taking thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from special interests and lobbyists.
So is it less government we need? Or perhaps more efficient government? Or better yet, government that does what it is supposed to do – work on behalf of the constituent and not the special interest groups?
In the meantime, just remember that your tax dollars have been hard at work this session. The legislators did declare Lamesa the Legendary Home Of The Chicken Fried Steak. That should help Texans immensely over the next two years.
Photo credits: Wikipedia