At the beginning of the month, I spent a few lovely days at the state capitol talking to several state Senators and Representatives about some ridiculous bills that have to do with my “situation”. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least and something that every single person in the country needs to do at least once.
This is NOT the stuff that they teach you in your high school government class. You remember government class … you know … the one taught by a coach who wears his shirts two sizes too small, spends the class hour ordering new football equipment online, and always eating Funyuns. I know … we all learned a lot in that class, yet can’t even begin to tell you how a bill becomes law. Well I know now. I saw it first hand and it isn’t pretty.
In fact, when they discuss bills on the “floor”, it is a lot like watching a kindergarten class try to give speeches on the Declaration of Independence. Nobody is really paying any attention and the speaker even seems a little fuzzy on what they are trying to say. The congress people get up and mill around the room while other people “have the floor”. There are side conversations going on everywhere. They get up and go to the restroom. They get up and go get some snacks from the spread that is provided for them. “Hey there Bob, your bill on stopping polution by making people wear face masks so their bad breath doesn’t affect other people is just brilliant. Would you like some Chex Mix?”
Here is my opinion on how this whole “bill into law” thing works. Let’s say that Senator Knowsitall decides that he likes the color purple and he does look rather dapper in purple, so he writes the “Purple Shirts on Wednesdays” bill. He then starts talking to all of the other Senators, especially the ones on the committee that will discuss such a bill, trying to get them to vote for his bill. He talks to Senator Iambetterthanyou about his fabulous purple shirts idea and that Senator is all for it. After all, Senator Iambetterthanyou has a cousin who owns a purple dye factory and he would really benefit from this purple shirt law. The cousin would consider making some generous donations to Senator Knowitall’s campaign for reelection if this bill passes. In fact, the cousin would prefer that the bill be expanded to include the requirement that everybody also wear purple pants and purple hats on Wednesdays. Great !
The bill then goes to committee, Senator Doasisay is the head of the committee and he is running for Mayor of a town that has a large white shirt factory. If this bill passes into law then the town will have a run on their white shirts that can then be dyed using dye from Senator Knowsitall’s cousin’s factory. What a fabulous idea !!!
The bill passes out of committee and passes unanimously on the Senate floor thanks to the “hand shaking” and “back patting” of the three Senators who back the bill. The bill then goes over to the House side where it goes through committee and is unanimously passed on the House floor thanks to promises to vote for other bills in exchange for a vote on the renamed “Everybody Wears Purple on Wednesdays” bill. The bill then travels to the Governor’s office. The Governor already knows that he is going to sign this bill into law because he had a visit from Senators Knowsitall, Iambetterthanyou, and Doasisay about how important this bill is for the state and how much revenue it will bring in. It will also create jobs, feed the hungry, and create world peace. They also informed the Governor that if he didn’t sign the bill into law that there would be a huge backlash from the “Purple loving community” and that they would use a smear campaign against him when he ran for reelection based on his hatred of the color purple. It’s the Governor’s daughter’s birthday and she loves the color purple so he signs the bill and dedicates it to her.
Does this bill make any sense whatsoever? Does it really help anybody other than the Senators who created it? Does it really matter? It’s a “feel good law” not unlike the laws that I am fighting against and I am tired of sitting back and doing nothing. Even if it doesn’t make any difference at all, I have to try to educate the “law makers”. I have to try.
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