Ready or Not

This will be my forth session serving in the Idaho legislature. Each
year I’ve spent the night before it starts with more and more to
contemplate and worry about. This year I have more than 10 pieces of
legislation I am hoping to pass or at least see introduced by a
committee in printed bill form. Of course that’s way too many pieces of
legislation for one person, especially a Democrat in a Republican
majority and I know it. But as much of an optimist as I am, I know the
fate of some of these bills.      
     Three of these have a good chance this year because I’ve worked
hard to gain expertise on the issues and have good potential
co-sponsors. In those cases I am addressing problems which a majority
of legislators agree need solving — regardless of what party we belong
    In a case or two this year I have a solution to something that many
of my colleagues will probably not feel is a problem.
    In one case I
think a majority of my colleagues would agree there
is a problem but most are afraid of what their constituents will think
and so will need a great deal of assurance before I have a chance of
seeing this legislation become law.
    There is one draft in my stack of
dull looking black and white
pages which is a great solution which almost all agree is sound and
necessary policy but which we may never get to vote on because House leadership may decide to apply force or obstruction to prevent its
passage. That is the hard stuff, good policy tied up in power struggles
or partisan politics.
    I have two drafts this year which address
technical problems,
and honestly I don’t know if I’ve found the solution but I’m trying and
my colleagues will give me feedback and I’ll work on it more and we’ll
get it right so it works eventually and then maybe next year we’ll pass
it into law. 
    Finally there are two proposals which are not mine. They
are going
to be set out as solutions to problems I agree exist. Unfortunately
they both do more to shift burdens and harm teachers and small business
taxpayers than they actually help them. I will be fighting these. One I
helped stop last year and the other is new.
     So we’ll see how it goes. Tonight I’m fretting about co-sponsors
and surprised at how calmly I’m debating the potential fate of what
I’ve spent this last year struggling to make worthy of Idaho law.      
    Passage of some of these bills will affect thousands of lives, some
will impact over a million people in ways they may feel every day. Without some of this legislation hard
working people will lose their jobs, and farmlands will be buried under
subdivisions; men will sit more years in prison even though drug
treatment is what they really need to become constructive members of

I remember: What we as legislators write and pass into law, we
sentence Idahoans to live with (or without) daily until others repeal
our folly or the courts strike it down. I ask, every day of the
session, may we think carefully where all the burdens fall.