by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
In her review of this legislative session, JLF’s Becki Gray had three main takeaways. First, politics was on display: Gray writes:
The governor’s folks respond to efforts to raise teacher pay with “is that a joke?” They call the legislature kidnappers. The legislature makes allegations the governor has committed crimes. Arm–twisting and threats have replaced compromise and duty to constituents. Insults and accusations dominate debate, replacing courtesy and respect. Yelling and trolling is communication now. Intellectual integrity and honesty are replaced with fake news and sound bites.
Second, it is a sacrifice to serve. Gray explains:
This has been one of the longest, hardest, and most contentious legislative sessions in memory, starting in January and finally adjourning after 10 long months. Haggard and tired legislators returned to their districts. But not for long. They were called back almost immediately to comply with a court order to re-draw congressional districts.
…They’ll return Jan. 14 to consider who knows what for how long. Leadership doesn’t “intend” for the January session to take them into the short session, which begins in May.
…They’ll spend time with friends and family, making up for missed birthday and anniversary celebrations, the vacations missed or cut short, and the soccer games and dance recitals that went on without them.
…Legislators say it’s an honor to serve. Sacrifice is a better word.
Lastly, if at first you don’t succeed, sue. Gray writes:
With Republicans holding the majority, Democrats have turned to the courts when they can’t get their priorities addressed in the legislature. Whether it’s overturning the constitutional voter ID requirement passed by a large majority of voters, legislative and congressional maps or capping the income tax, the courts are taking a larger role in determining what’s constitutionally defined as legislative authority. As the line blurs between the three branches of government — and if the courts can usurp what the General Assembly has done— the legislature loses relevancy, voters’ choice is diluted, and the separation of powers that keeps state government in check no longer works. Policies put in place through legislation by a duly elected representative body of 170 members can be erased with one court order.