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After a Difficult Session, Lawmakers Deserve Some Credit
By Damon Circosta
Published: Aug. 10, 2009
RALEIGH - As the General Assembly adjourns for the year after more than six months in session, there are a lot of adjectives being used to describe the 170 members of our legislature. Given the nature of politics, you can imagine that many of the words used to describe our public servants are less than kind.
After all, every vote they cast and every bill they introduce will have at least some detractors. Passing legislation and managing state government can require some thick skin.
Even in the best of times, being a legislator means taking some flak. The job requires making extraordinarily tough decisions that aren’t always popular. But these aren’t the best of times. Shrinking state revenues and a dour economic outlook mean that our representatives must make even more tough calls than usual. As the battle between increasing taxes or slashing budgets waged on, the folks at the General Assembly were stuck between a rock and a hard place.
As the session has now wound down, there still is work to be done. In the coming months it will be up to members of the legislature to communicate with their constituents, explain their votes and prepare for the possibility of heading back to Raleigh for a special session to rehash our state budget.
As our elected officials come back home, it might be tempting to vent our frustration. Whether you believe your representative should have held the line on tax increases, or found a way to fully fund our schools, we can all agree that deciding these critical issues is no easy task.
It is absolutely important that we hold our elected officials accountable. Representative democracy requires us to carefully examine the job they did for us and vote accordingly. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of electoral politics, let us pause and say a word of thanks to the 170 members of the General Assembly.
Thank you for driving to the capital twice a week to represent us. For many of you it means being away from your family, your business and your friends. We know you signed up for this, but we are glad someone is willing to do it.
Thank you for sitting in those impossibly long committee meetings. We know that a lot of what goes on at the General Assembly isn’t glamorous or ideological. It can be a lot of making sure that statutory language is right. Lawmaking isn’t always a crusade. Sometimes it is plain, old-fashioned work.
Thank you for patiently listening to the advocates, citizens, lobbyists and others in the halls of the legislative building, even though it means that from the moment you walk in the door until the moment you leave you barely have a moment to yourself. You have to keep your mind on thousands of different pieces of legislation. It can’t be easy.
Thank you for working to forge consensus. With so many differing opinions, it can be tough to find common ground. We are glad when that happens, but are also grateful for the times when you stick up for what you believe is right.
Most of all, thank you for carrying on. Humankind has been struggling to find a way to order society since we all huddled around fires outside of caves. Our way of doing things isn’t perfect, and there is much to be improved. But by playing an active role in our government you are carrying on a proud tradition. We may not always agree with you. We might sometimes get frustrated. But the work you do isn’t easy. Thank you for taking it on.