Citizen Legislature - Bunk

Chris Fitzsimon gets it over at the NC Policy Watch. I have recently said here that the NC legislature is a "old boys" club that happens to allow women. If you don't already have your money, you ain't getting in.

The Fitzsimon File below the break.

The wrong lesson from the summer

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

...some of the conclusions [about Black and his corruption charges] are not only off base, the recommendations made with them would take the state in exactly the wrong direction in response to the scandals now preoccupying Raleigh’s Inside the Beltline world.

The Winston-Salem Journal thinks that the 2006 session makes the case for limiting the length of legislative sessions...

Not sure why limiting how long lawmakers are in Raleigh will make their decisions better, but the whole notion is based on the myth that North Carolina still has a “citizen legislature,” in which average people are able to serve.

That is absurd and limiting the session to four or five months one year and three months the next won’t help much. Not many working class people have jobs they can leave for months on end and as a result the General Assembly is primarily made up of wealthy businesspeople, retirees, or lawyers from big enough firms that they can be in Raleigh for weeks on end.

Ironically, session limits would do nothing to make it easier for average people to serve, but would give lobbyists and legislative staff members more power over policy decisions. The less time lawmakers have to spend on complicated issues, the worse for all of us.

...

The time may have come in North Carolina for what many people refuse to consider, a permanent, full-time General Assembly with reasonable pay so people can afford to serve. We should judge the General Assembly on what they accomplish, not how long it takes them.

...

The bottom line is that we need more debate on important issues facing the state, not less. And we need to make it possible for more people to serve. The worst thing to do would be to put strict limits on legislative sessions to make life easier for the lawmakers currently in office and give even more power to lobbyists. That’s how we got into this mess in the first place.

In this day and age of lobbyist scandal, I think now is the time for Democrats to push for more citizen involvement by making the legislature full-time pay for full-time work.

Comments

Scandal

I wonder whether more regular Joe's and Jane's would make the legislature more scandal ridden, or less? I would like to think less.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Interesting question.

The ordinary Joe or Jane with average wealth in a contested district is probably less predisposed but more susceptible to the influence of money than a wealthy candidate.

It's definitely time for NC

to be looking at a professional legislature. I think that just about everyone agrees, right?

I guess not.

Imagine if we paid our Representatives enough to spend the year legislating. Why, anyone could join.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Full time legislature: Yes

The rest of the government is there full time. It makes little sense for the legislature to work the way it does - 6 months on, 9 months off, 3 months on, 6 months off. And even when they are in town, its only for 3 days a week.

From the Times-News, out Lance's way (old way)

Barry Smith has this comment:

I’m going to offer a suggestion that might surprise a lot of folks who know how critical I’ve been over the years about the work that our state representatives and senators are doing.
I suggest that we give our lawmakers a pay raise.
I don’t mean a measly 3 or 4 percent. I’m talking about doubling their salary.
No, no, I haven’t gone off the deep end. And the biggovernment types haven’t convinced me that the solution to every problem is to throw more money at it. So please hear me out before you go on to something else. It’ll only take a minute.
Consider that legislators haven’t had a raise since 1995. The rank-and-file lawmaker makes $13,951 a year.
In addition, lawmakers get $559 a month for expenses. This is supposed to cover incidental items such as all the travel around their district to meet with constituents and go to events. Some lawmakers maintain a separate phone line for their constituents to call.
If you add up the salary and expenses, you come to a total of $20,659. When legislators are in session, they get an expense check of $104 a day, which is supposed to cover their cost of meals, lodging and other incidentals while they’re in Raleigh.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me