Thursday, May 31, 2007

Evolutionary Politics

It is an evolutionary process. The legislative process, that is.
Every law, every regulation, every filed bill, every idea - is in constant flux, evolving toward something else. I have either heard or read somewhere that there are around 3000 pieces of legislation filed during every Session of the General Assembly. New ideas or the discovered need to tweak current laws are addressed in each bill.
You see, sometimes either current events or the application of the current law can reveal caveats or issues that weren't thought about during the original passage of the bill. And most times, bills rarely end in the same form that they began - due to the process of discussion, debate, public input, amendments, etc. I am a firm believer in the legislative process which has been in place for over 200 years.

I guess that is why I get so ticked off by the media's initial reporting on most bills filed in the General Assembly - they either only read the title and not the meat of the legislation, or they don't take the time to investigate and talk with the sponsors to discover the reasons behind the legislation - before they rush to report. Not all reporters are so quick to opine and I respect reporters who seem at least willing to talk with legislators prior to writing a story. I told Aaron Gould Sheinin @ The State that very thing the other day. My local paper, The Clinton Chronicle, was a prime example of this recently. They chose to report on the "Campus Carry Bill", relying on other media reports for their information (which had it wrong to begin with) and not bothering to contact me to say "Hey, Jeff - what's up with that legislation you filed?" I had to call them - after two weeks of their reporting and editorial columns, not to mention letters to the editor, all based on wrong and poor reporting in other journals - to ask when they were going to bother to call me. Go figure.

And how in the world does the press justify not commenting on Sen. John Land's rant and filibuster against the Worker's Comp Reform bill, when he profits hugely every year by practicing before the Worker's Comp Commission? In my opinion, he should have recused himself from the debate and not voted due to a conflict of interest. If that had been a Republican lawmaker doing the same thing, I believe the press would have hollered loudly!

I spoke recently with an acquaintance, who considers herself a liberal in the political sense, who was discussing something she saw on CNN. She watches all of the cable news channels, so I asked her: "Do you believe everything that FOX News says?" She said "Heck no - they spin it to their view!" I said: "Well, why do you believe that CNN or MSNBC reports accurately on everything they report on?" I can tell you that they don't - they report it how they want it to sound. That is OK for an editorial or opinion column, and for opinion shows like "The Factor." But when you are reporting the news, or holding yourself out to the public that this is news, I would love to see you guys in the press get it straight and let the opinions form from correct information. It is all coming so fast these days with the "McNews" formats that the lines between opinion and facts get blurred. Go Figure again.