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Speaking of the Politically Correct …

Have we gone too far in political correctness?

In the State House, we have legislation dealing with organ transplants. But. They are called anatomical gifts.

And then the catalog I received in the State House. A toy catalog, full of great things. For "differently abled" children.

Since I’m pretending to be part of the Word Police, how about words used as verbs. Like "partnered." Or "ramped up."

And a factoid isn’t a small fact. It’s an incorrect fact.

The House of Representatives finally decided to enter the modern age of technology and computers, and assigned a committee–a good committee, by the way–to come up with a plan, some ideas, so we can access legislation while we are in the House chamber. Or, even access our e-mail from outside the building. That’s the good news. The bad news? It was called the "automation committee."

Since I’m on what I don’t like today, let me write that I don’t like the way the House of Representatives has operated recently. You may think it’s a democracy, with all 160 of us voting our consciences to best serve our constituents.

No. It’s not like that at all. The Speaker decides what bills come to the House floor for a vote, and what he doesn’t like just disappear.

It’s gotten to such a sad state that his members vote with him just to avoid his displeasure–even if they privately disagree with his decision.

After all, there’s a lot to lose–your office, your committee chair, your extra pay.

Look, personally, I like the Speaker. As a person he’s, well, personable. Good sense of humor. Intelligent. Fun to be around. But he’s a control freak. An autocrat. Dictator.

So, there goes democracy out the door.

It was never more apparent than in the recent budget negotiations. Synopsis. House approved budget; Senate approved another version. Three Representatives and three Senators named to a conference committee to iron out the differences. Budget was due to start July 1. Last July 1, not next July 1!

The appointed conferees ended up with little to do. The big differences were left for the Speaker and the Senate President to decide.

This doesn’t reflect badly on the appointed legislators–they had no control over the matter. They wanted to be part of the decision making, I understand. And, they should have been.

By the time the legislature was getting ready to recess for the year we appeared to be totally inept. The only state without a budget. Still trying to figure out how to come up with $1.3-billion in savings from our $23-billion budget.

With rules meant to be broken–meaning legislators might have to return to the State House to override or sustain the Governor’s vetoes, even though our own rules say we are done and gone and out of there by November 21st. Rules put into place after the media attacked legislators for attending a party, in the state house, during budget season in 2000. The so-called "Animal House" fiasco.

So we can embarrass ourselves again, incur the wrath of our constituents and the criticism of the media.

Of course, constituents are angry, over proposed budget cuts. By Thanksgiving we were spending $1.6-million a day–that’s a day–more than we could afford. And something had to give. We had to cut some line items.

A lot of line items. Unfortunately, popular and necessary things–college and university budgets, school nurses, local aid. But, whatever is cut, it has an advocacy group. Probably a lobbyist, too. And they were all calling, e-mailing, visiting to plead their cases.

I can take the heat. I can explain why we have to make some sensitive cuts. I can explain that tax revenues are down and we can’t continue spending at our old pre-recession levels. I can justify cutting thousands of state jobs. These are business decisions.

I just can’t take looking inept–when the majority of legislators are not inept. And I won’t take the blame for our leaders who failed to act in a timely manner. They are the ones that made us look inept.

My fellow legislators deserve better.

And, so do my constituents.


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