When session is coming to an end, it can get sort of crazy around the State House.

Bills being sent back and forth between the House and Senate…conference committees meeting to iron out differences….each chamber posturing and declaring to the other what must happen…bills being amended by adding other bills to them, in hopes of procedurally being able to keep a bill alive that might not normally make it in time before we adjourn. Basically I’ve seen all sorts of tactics, strategies, etc. come to play as the clock winds down on every two-year session. No one wants to see bills important to the state (or their constituents) die and have to start over again in January 2025.

Tonight though, it got childish. Sadly, it’s happened before and probably will happen again – but I wish it wouldn’t.

In an attempt to delay a vote on a bill that would restructure many of our state agencies, a member decided to pull a VERY rarely used stunt and ask that the reading clerk read the bill to the chamber (watch video above). In 20 years, I’ve seen this pulled twice that I can recall! The bill in question was 100+ pages long and would literally have taken hours for the clerk to read. The House member and a few of her supporters simply did not have the votes to defeat the bill because an overwhelming majority of the House (and previously Senate) supported the restructuring that the Governor and many others had been working on for years.

This sort of stunt wasn’t new to this two-year session though, but is one of the most over-the-top ones pulled the past two years. I have alluded to this sort of stuff last year in this video before an important vote we took then and, unfortunately, many around the state continue to ask me “what the h*ll are y’all doing?”

What we (the vast majority of members – Republicans and Democrats) are doing is trying to write policy. Policy which helps our state and our constituents quality of life. What some (a very small minority of members) are doing are playing games and playing politics to score points back home when voters often just listen to soundbites or fall prey to very disingenuous campaign mailers or ads.

Get ready, you’ll see lots of these in the coming weeks before the Republican and Democratic primaries. My suggestion to everyone is to KNOW your Representative or Senator. ASK him/her anytime you see something that you are curious about. Let him/her explain what that vote meant…not just what you have been told it meant.

Making laws isn’t a simple, easy process. It’s very complex. The process (committee and full House or Senate) allows for many votes that could be used as “gotcha votes” by people who are more focused on trying to portray someone in a certain light than in passing good policy or doing what is best for our state.

Obviously, voters choose their leaders based on what criteria is important to the voter. Some voters are “one issue” voters and if an official votes against that voter’s view on that one issue, that voter may never vote for them. While I don’t agree with that rationale, I can understand it. Other voters may just choose who to vote for because that candidate “is a nice guy/gal” or “my neighbor knows him/her”. Again, that’s understandable as well.

Just be sure you are sending men and women to Columbia who understand that people, not politics, are what we should be our focus. Not games. This is true whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. You deserve a public servant. You deserve someone who has the courage to not only do what’s right for our state, but to also take tough votes that everyone knows are going to be twisted and greatly distorted on a campaign flyer when in reality of those votes oftentimes mean the difference in getting through a legislative process that is more chess than checkers.

Out of 124 House Members, I actually like them all. I can work with almost all of them. We obviously disagree on many important issues and many important details…and sometimes the debates can be lively. What I don’t like though is when some, a small few, pull these shenanigans that honestly either aren’t designed to improve or change a bill (or at least well thought out) and, instead, are simply used as campaign rhetoric that will confuse and mislead the voters in our state.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just going on here in Columbia, it’s all over our country and – even worse – at the federal level.

I’m sure more games are coming tomorrow before we adjourn sine-die. You can count on it.