Monday, January 14, 2008

Legislative Fun and Games...

Back to back posts about public policy... man, I must be getting more serious!

So once again, we begin the three-ring circus in Pierre known as the legislative session. Since we don't believe in career politicians, the session is pretty short... 40 days in odd-numbered years and 35 days in even-numbered years. This year is 35 days, which means less time for those legislatures to play grab-butt with the pages!

Speaking of which, the Legislature finally passed a "Code of Conduct" for themselves this year. Isn't that something? To be able to determine your own rules as well as pay? What other job can you do that BESIDES politics? Anyway, the measure passed resoundingly, with the exception of a few Republicans (including the guy that used to sub for me in Doland, Brock Greenfield) poo-pooing the idea.

Frankly, I'm glad they passed this. A lot of folks say that passing this code of conduct won't prevent such episodes as Dan Sutton and Ted Klaudt. They're probably right, but what I'm glad this thing does is provide some modicum of accountability that our lawmakers can be held to.

That's the key word right there... "Accountability". You go to any profession, be it media (even though I'm not a reporter, per se, I do follow the Code of Ethics set down by the Society of Professional Journalists. When I was a teacher, I had to follow the Code of Conduct set by the South Dakota Department of Education. Doctors, lawyers, even my brother, who is a real estate agent, all have to follow codes of conduct established by the State of South Dakota. If they fail to follow those rules, they are held accountable and can even get stripped of their licenses, certifications, etc. So doesn't it make sense that the folks that are setting up the rules also be subject to the same means of accountability themselves?

Now that the Legislature has established these rules, they're now turning around and trying to do away with the constitutional amendment dealing with term limits. Here's the poop... a legislator can only serve in one particular house for no more than eight years. They can serve in the other house as well as governor, but they are also held to the same 8-year limit for each position. Now soon-to-be term-limited folks like Bill Napoli (R-Rapid City) are whining that the limits "take away a lot of experience."

What arrogance! To think that these folks are the only ones that can do the job! Frankly, I like the idea of "changing the plant water" every once in a while, to get new ideas and new perspectives, instead of the old fuddy-duddies that should have left office but decided to make it a career.

I know what you're thinking... why not let voters do the term-limiting at the polls? Well, because there is precedent with the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, limiting an elected official (i.e. the President) to just 2 terms. What's good for Dubya, Clinton, and Reagan should be good enough for Napoli, Gassman, and Olson!


coralhei said...

Even that 22nd Amendment is a stinker. I was as eager to get rid of Clinton as anyone else in 2000, and I'm now eager to get rid of W., but I'd rather do it through ballots than a fixed rule. If a president or governor or legislator is good enough, the public should have a right to send that leader back to serve as often as they wish. Elections (and recalls for real rascals) are the only term limits we should allow.

Jackrabit1 said...

Interesting thought, Cory, but at the same time... people are creatures of habit. At what point does voting a person in become a habit, even though the person is no longer an effective representative of his or her constituents?

At the same time, these folks can start to feel that they are somehow "entitled" to be in office and then become an "elected tyrant".

Thomas Jefferson said it best, "The Tree of Liberty must be fed with the blood of tyrants." Okay, blood in a figurative sense, but let's avoid the situation all together and enforce these term limits.

pantusso said...


Though I understand your point, you are a bit misguided with your comment. That rule is in place to keep the Hugo Chavez's and the like in check because we know that corruption knows no bounds within the human psyche. Did you ever read "Animal Farm?" We all know that the best ideas can cause irreparable harm to a society. You honestly think the voters would have replace Janklow even after all the damage he did to so many programs in South Dakota just to fulfill his lust for power and greed? The man has gotten very rich off John Q. Taxpayer and the public was none the wiser until he got into trouble.

I am personally very glad we don't even have to consider voting for GW this time. After the last two Presidential elections, I don't particularly trust the voters as the masses are swayed too easily by talk. Those who voted for GW last election are responsible for the travesty this country has become. And you think the 22nd Amendment is a stinker? I think our lawmakers got one right on this one.