September 21, 2015

Observations of a New Legislator

I am often asked if my most recent occupation as a state legislator is everything that I expected. To be honest, I did not know what to expect. When I ran for office I had no idea what a legislator gets paid, no idea how to draft a law and no idea how to pass a massive state budget. However, since becoming an elected official I have learned many things and have also realized that some commonly held misconceptions about public office are not necessarily reality. Three of those misconceptions involve career politicians, lobbyists and partisan politics.

First, I have been surprised to find that there are more than a few legislators in our state who are not stereotypical politicians. Our government was never intended to be filled with career politicians, but rather with folks who have worked in the trenches like everybody else and are one day called upon on to serve and represent their neighbors in an elected position. These individuals, myself included, are willing to take on the tough issues, act in the best interest of their constituents regardless of what is popular and hold strong to traditional family and solid Christian principles.

Second, another commonly misunderstood area of government is lobbying. Many constituents believe that lobbyists hover around the capitol attempting to influence our votes and the legislation that we pass. That is not the case. Lobbyists are experts in their field and serve as spokespersons for a particular industry or group, communicating the wishes of those they represent to legislators and the public to raise awareness on an issue. Lobbyists are extremely knowledgeable in the specific areas that they represent and, as such, are excellent resources when drafting legislation. I will never sign on to any bill or be prodded into voting for something that the majority of my district and I would not agree with.

Finally, the issue of partisan politics. The media often portrays a lot of head butting and stonewalling between Democrats and Republicans. That could not be further from the truth. Although I rarely agree with my Democrat colleagues, I do not disrespect them. When we pass each other in the capitol we not only say hello, but respectfully address each other as Representative or Senator. We joke in committee hearings and amongst each other and, believe it or not, we meet in each other's offices on occasion. It is actually comical at times to witness Democrat committee members turn on the rhetoric when the camera is rolling, just to get that splash on the evening news.

As you can imagine, my first eight months has been extremely educational. I look forward to continuing to help move this state forward should you grant me the honor of continuing to serve this district in the years to come.