LAKE MACBRIDE— Nothing has changed in the form of our state government. People get confused about this, due to an enthusiasm for the House of Representatives. There are three branches, the executive, legislative and judicial, although house enthusiasts say there are a different three, the house, senate and governor. They have it wrong.
I can understand why some get enthusiastic about the house. After all, it is our most representative chamber in a bicameral legislature. People get so enthusiastic, they sometimes forget about the bicameral part— that for a house bill to get to the governor’s desk for signature, the consent of the senate is required. Ditto in the reverse for senate bills. Behind the scenes, leadership is working on a budget, something they know has to get passed. Unlike the school aid formula, there would be consequences if the legislature ignored the statutory requirement to pass a budget before adjournment sine die. Bills without bicameral support are like so many necklaces and doubloons at Mardi Gras.
If people don’t have a relationship with state legislators, they could. The listening posts and forums are sparely attended, so anyone who shows up more than once is likely to get noticed. A visit to the Capitol? Even fewer constituents do that, garnering special treatment.
Guaranteed about any legislator is that a person will not always agree with their votes. In many cases, voting is predictable, but so much depends upon the specifics of the bill and and what leadership brings to the floor for debate. In more than twenty years, I have disagreed with every representative and senator I have had in Big Grove, although mostly I agreed with their votes. It hasn’t made much difference to which party they belonged, the nature of politics is no one gets what they want all of the time.
Iowa is currently in the filing period for state candidates, and a lot of people kick the tires on a run. Some have no idea what a campaign for the legislature involves. Others know well. I look forward to the March 14 deadline to see how our local races will shape up. With my newspaper work, I will be writing fewer letters to the editor than in previous years in an effort to avoid favoring elected officials and candidates to make an attempt at balanced news writing. I have an opinion, but will be expressing it infrequently in public. That is the price of working as a correspondent for a weekly newspaper.
What I do know and will say is that my public silence should not be mistaken for lack of engagement. Elections matter, and people should strive to be informed. I’ll be following the action in my community, and doing what I can to advance common interests. We all should be doing that… and that is an opinion I’m not concerned about expressing in public.