JWA Blog

Legislative Sausage

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The legislative session is filled with mystery for most folks looking at it from the outside.

Some of the mystery, aside from the question of how the legislative sausage is actually made, surrounds what our elected officials do during the interim times. The fact is, many, if not most of the legislative body make huge sacrifices in order to serve. They walk away from businesses, from family, from careers and other obligations to do their part. All of which suggests that the interim should be taken as an opportunity to get back into their personal swing of things.

But that’s not quite how it works.

Being a legislator is a long term, full time or on-call commitment. Session itself is day after day of long hours. Breakfast meetings, pre-breakfast coffee meetings, pre-pre-breakfast phone calls, committee hearings, constituent meetings, 15 minutes at a time. Then, maybe lunch.

You get the picture.

The dirty little secret? Once session is over, most of that pressure doesn’t stop.

In the eyes of a constituent, legislators are their personal fulltime representative. If they have an idea or a need, they want to talk, and expect policymakers to be available. Interim days are often as full of meetings and commitments as the session is, the difference being, work is most often done in-district as opposed to in the capitol. Community leaders, civic groups, citizens with opinions or policy interests, local businesses all seek access, and an ear.

I’m sharing this because its worth noting the importance of the interim and the work most folks never see. I like to look at it like this. If session is where the sausage is actually made, then the interim is where the recipes and flavors are brainstormed ingredients gathered, . Most of the legislative sausage that gets discussed and heard during a session came out of a lot of hard work when the capitol was relatively quiet.

Sometimes, the sausage is great, and everyone likes it. Other times, not so much. Maybe too salty, maybe too sweet, maybe overcooked. Quite often underdone and requiring a bit more “time in the oven”, so to speak. Maybe work on the recipe a bit more.

You get the picture.

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