Top Ten List: A Freshman Legislator's Perspective

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Top Ten List: A Freshman Legislator's Perspective

As I write this column, we are in the final week of the “long” session of the Indiana General Assembly. So many legislative issues are changing daily that it would not be wise to comment on them until the final versions are set, the votes counted and the law is enacted.

Instead, I thought it perhaps fitting to pause and reflect on the whirlwind that has consumed my time since January 7. With the risk of showing my age a little, and with a nod to David Letterman, the following is a top ten list of what I learned in Indianapolis this session.

10. Frequent TV appearances are a great motivator to watch what you eat for dessert. Enough said…

9. It is a long way from Southwest Indiana to Indianapolis, in many respects. I would venture to say that as many legislative issues in Indiana are of the rural/suburban/city split as they are Republican/Democrat or conservative/liberal, although there is obviously some overlap.

8. Our Founders were geniuses in restricting how long the Indiana Legislature may assemble each year. If nothing else, sometimes, a good, firm deadline is as good as it gets when limiting the scope and reach of government.

7. Making law is indeed like making sausage, and the process actually works – at least most of the time. Vetting legislation through committee meetings and having the Legislature vote several times at different stages all have the effect of helping to sift out the bad and the ugly in favor of the good.

6. The Senate and the House are two separate bodies, despite currently being run by the same political party. I have heard it said that the Senate is the equivalent to the British House of Lords – I think I get it now.

5. Speaker Bosma may well be the most gifted politician in the country. Never before have I met one person who can combine such a commanding knowledge of legislation with the people skills of a pastor.

4. Our Statehouse is strikingly beautiful. If the character of Hoosiers, be they politicians or not, matched the splendor of our capital building, we would be in great shape.

3. If a provision in a bill looks goofy, it may well be. Because we meet only a few months a year, issues move quickly in Indianapolis. I learned early on that it is far better to ask a question than to assume anything.

2. It is amazing how alone one can feel on the House floor, despite being surrounded by peers. Votes in Indiana are taken rapidly, sometime with only seconds to make a decision after the final speech is made. There is little, if any, time to seek out additional guidance once debate ends and the vote begins.

1. There is an excellent, active Legislator’s Bible Study and prayer meeting every Thursday. I think this one speaks for itself!

I also wanted to take the time to publicly thank all the constituents of District 64 who have taken the time to come to public meetings, write emails or letters or give the office a call. I sincerely appreciate the input. By next week, Lord willing, I will be in a position to write about how the 2013 long session of the Indiana General Assembly concluded. Hopefully, it will be welcomed news.

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State Rep. Tom Washburne serves as Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Financial Institutions Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Washburne represents the entirety of Gibson County and portions of ¬Knox, Pike, Vanderburgh and Posey counties.