Recently there has been a lot of hubbub about a bill sponsored by state Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn. It would have allowed/required the “Lord’s Prayer” to be recited in charter schools.
When I saw the bill on the legislative bill list, the first thing I said to myself: This doesn’t have a chance in hell of becoming law. And I was right. The bill is on its way to Statehouse purgatory, i.e. the Rules Committee where it will sit in limbo for the remainder of session.
Now, while I think the bill was a bad idea on a multitude of levels, I can assure you that there was someone in Sen. Kruse’s very rural district who thought it was a great idea.
In fact, I am willing to bet money there are a lot of people in Indiana who think the bill didn’t go far enough and would have like to have seen it go further. I’m not sure how you could do that without setting up some goose-stepping dystopian theocracy, but everybody has to have a goal.
The point I am getting at is that the good thing about representative government is also the bad thing about representative government: It represents everybody.
There are 150 lawmakers who represent the interests of more 6.2 million people. And if you assume the standard line that 10 percent of the population is a little off kilter, then you should expect that 10 percent of the legislation that gets offered will fit that description. I am willing to bet money that Sen. Kruse was probably approached by a number of constituents who thought saying the Lord’s Prayer was a good idea and talked him into introducing a bill. It doesn’t take much.
And it’s not just the Lord’s Prayer bill. I live in a city so whenever I see a farm bill or something related to agriculture, I glance over it and keep going. I am sure my friends in rural areas feel the same way about legislation regarding mass transit. As long as money isn’t coming directly out of their pockets, per se, they tend not to care and vice versa.
When lawmakers are representing Indiana’s diverse interests, you are likely to find all kinds of bills. Now the tricky part is being able to tell your constituents that something is a bad idea and probably isn’t going to fly or when you are being asked to offer up something you don’t believe in. That is when we get into the discussion of whether you are acting as a representative and merely acting on behalf of your constituents or more like a trustee where you are acting in the best interests of your constituents. However, that is another column for another time.
My point here is the next time you go down the legislative bill list and see some crazy piece of legislation that makes absolutely no sense to you, I can assure you that somewhere in Indiana, that bill is like manna from heaven for somebody.