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Our Government. Still Running on Time.

Post # 190, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary

"Laws Should be Hard to Pass, not Easy."

Senate President Jerry Thomas to legislative candidate Bob McKnight

Full disclosure warning. This post may make you angry. For that I apologize. But this message is important for all of us who believe strongly in a Democracy. We were never told governing with checks and balances would be easy. To the contrary, most of us learned in school that to have a free and open participation by all law biding citizens required study, understanding, tolerance, and perseverance. What is this post about?

Our government is evenly split among Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, 50-50, with Vice President Harris breaking tie votes for the Democrats favor. The House of Representatives is split 224 for the Democrats and 214 for the Republicans. There are 3 vacant seats and 2 Independents that vote with the Democratic Caucus. The difference is really between 5 and 10 votes, and that can easily be covered by members failing to vote.

The net effect of this whisker close vote is that every issue really comes down to one or two members of either House might stop legislation from passing. That impasse includes the Budget which will run out of money again unless a Continuing Resolution is passed.

Both parties are divided internally from the left and right. This means that the votes are even closer if those extremes vote as a block and not with their party. Democrats have historically been less committed to their Party, so the Republicans have even more clout in tight votes.

As I described in my book, The Golden Years...The Florida Legislature, '70's and '80's, then Senate President Jerry Thomas (D. Jupiter) once told me, "A bill should be hard to pass, not easy. There are so many affected by government action, laws should be judiciously considered and painfully debated. Only then will we have government limited to public protection and welfare."

Our governance today is messy and at times ugly. But maybe that is what our forefathers had in mind when we have a genuine disagreement about direction. That is why they insisted on incorporating checks and balances in our founding documents. The debates will long and difficult. In the end compromise must rule. If we are true Americans, we will then unite and support decisions made by our majority.

It is America. We are still running on time.



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