Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Senate elites speak their minds

The Senate Government Operations Committee held a hearing today on the topic of whether the Legislature should go part-time. Chairman and Majority Leader Mike Bishop gave strong and earnest support to the concept.

Some of his colleagues on the committee however, had a different view. One member expressed concern for how much work is involved and wondered how we could EVER do this job on a part-time basis. "The time spent in this career as a legislator is so intensive and so time-consuming that unless you walk in our shoes for a week, you never know just how much we do and the sacrifices that our families really make for us to be here."

Another member made it clear that 50-60 hours a week is just not enough time to get all the work done and to fulfill all the demands and requirements of being a legislator. There was also a subtle suggestion that, what with a $40 billion budget to oversee, perhaps we are underpaid!

The topper was a simple statement made by a third member of the committee who shall remain nameless. Keeping in mind our track record over the last five months, this Senator said, "I think we have an effective legislature."


Anonymous said...

How can I ever run for office if it does not pay me a salary? There is no way I can take on a part time job and keep my current job, nor is there any way I could survive on part-time legislative pay.

I fear this will only prevent average people from running for office. I guess if I was really really rich, I could do it, but the benefits right now are not enough to balance out the risks you take for only a 6 year job.

Anonymous said...

A part-time legislature would be a wonderful thing. It was interesting to me to hear the argument that it would limit certain groups from serving and I can't see how many of those same groups aren't prevented now by term limits. Not many can leave their jobs for 2-6 years to serve in the House. I think this argument could be totally erased by paying the part-time legislators what the average citizen of Michigan makes in a year. There's no reason they couldn't live on that amount since the rest of the citizenry is.

Then again, they'd probably oppose this as well because lower pay would preclude their chosen groups from running, i.e. wealthy business owners.

Anonymous said...

I find this idea intriguing. And after all, why not try it? It has certainly served us well historically, and surely all those other part-time state legislatures aren't limited to the wealthy. There are any number of part-time positions available: personally, I've been self-supporting for nearly 20 years, and have never worked full-time anywhere. (By choice!)