Mary Lau: The End of Every Legislative Session Comes with Its Own Sense of Relief

Sometimes, it’s just that it’s over, other times there’s elation and others just numb exhaustion.

The 2021 Legislative Session was probably a mixture of all these emotions. This session followed two special legislative sessions and each had its own drama. The difficulties manifested due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and the inability of the public to really participate in the process. The Democrat majority leadership did work with the Legislative Council Bureau to come up with a “plan”. This plan made use of the existing internet viewing of the various meetings, added phone call in for testimony and also included Zoom capabilities for committee meetings and floor sessions. The proverbial fly in the ointment was that many committee chairs did not allocate enough time for fully vetting bills, limiting certain testimony to as little as two-minutes. This style of session continued throughout the two special sessions as well as the regular session. Many newbie legislators have never worked with trade association advocates, hired lobbyists or even members of the public enough to fully understand complex issues. But then again, many seasoned legislators also used this as an opportunity to avoid fully vetting the bills too.

Improper vetting, slamming and jamming and partisanship always results in “unintended consequences” some of which end up in court. A good example of the was the recent violation of the constitution by the Democrat leadership in order to avoid the two-thirds constitutional requirement for tax increases. They lost in court and are having to restore the money that was taken unlawfully; which should have taught them something, but guess again. Now they are trying another end run around the constitution with a creative law and interpretation regarding initiative petitions. This destruction of the constitution has happened before, and, as a result, unlawful laws stand unless someone sues in court. As you know, RAN signed on to Senator Settelmeyer’s suit along with the Senate Republicans, NTA, NFADA and a private business. However, having prevailed in protecting the constitution several of the Senate minority voted on a mining tax this session which included a “deal” that may change the publics’ right to petition their government – another hole in the constitution.

A glaring inequity has become the norm when it comes to elected officials. The lamentations about sessions being anti-business are becoming more and more concrete as social agendas, national policies and re-elections become more important as the public that votes them into office. You always hear it is for the children, or my constituents want this, but rarely do you get to the point where the true social costs and economic damage gets considered.

It’s easy to take a shot at someone’s perceived wealth due to the fact that they have a business. And, setting the records straight, yes there are tech companies, big box stores, multi-state and multi-national interests and that is across the spectrum from retail, manufacturing, trucking, gaming, pharma companies and pharmacies to name a few. I have to admit that my business classes that included case studies regarding the forming of McDonalds, among others, was fascinating. No one can really fault a Jeff Bezos for the wealth that came out of his garage book selling business, Jobs same story, as with Gates. Sam Walton was fired by JC Penney’s because he didn’t understand retail – oops – thus came Walmart. Sy Redd created this little company called Sircoma later to be known as IGT.

I see no reason to vilify success, and I do resent the opinion that business as a whole may be bad or takes advantage of employees. RAN’s membership includes thousands of other locations, many of which are mom-and-pop businesses that started at their kitchen table, garage or back of a napkin planning as engaged by SWA. What is inaccurate and even ignorant is the idea that anyone in business is somehow wrong. There’s plenty of lip-service from elected officials but how many truly listen? How many have sat down and jelled an idea into a thoughtful concept? Taken that same concept to the written business plan phase? Used personal credit cards to form, or even keep a business alive? Borrowed from friends, family, neighbors, home equity loans —- you get the picture. How many elected officials made appointments with SCORE volunteers to see how to keep the wheels connected while they form, sustain or grow a business? Answer – so very few that it is concerning.

The business of governing needs help. It used to be that once people had grown and stabilized their business then they could consider running for office to actually give back and serve their constituents. Now, it’s people with little or no real-life experience and theories of how business should be governed.

We need more business savvy legislators. Owners themselves or businesses friendly employees need to run for office. We also need critical thinkers that don’t just show up at a caucus meeting to find out if they are free to vote for or against a particular piece of legislation. State (or elected policies) should not be on a punish/reward and/or popularity contest. It should be based on the highest and best good for the public. Period!

Think about it!