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What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

2013 February 2
by robertnew
FRANKFORT, Ky. (January 14, 2013) – (Left) Representative Ryan Quarles, R-Georgetown (62nd District) and Representative Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster (36th District) listen to a presentation on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives on Friday, January 11. Quarles and Shell are two of three House Representatives under the age of 30, all Republicans, and two of eight House legislators under the age of 40.  Seven of the eight under 40 members are Republicans. (Photo: LRC Public Information/Kentucky House Republican Caucus)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (January 14, 2013) – (Left) Representative Ryan Quarles, R-Georgetown (62nd District) and Representative Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster (36th District) listen to a presentation on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives on Friday, January 11. Quarles and Shell are two of three House Representatives under the age of 30, all Republicans, and two of eight House legislators under the age of 40. Seven of the eight under 40 members are Republicans. (Photo: LRC Public Information/Kentucky House Republican Caucus)

A couple of weeks ago Kentucky’s General Assembly started their 2013 session. They started this year with a short session, only meeting 4 days. Being the political junkie I am, I was thrilled to learn that KET had a website that streamed both the House and Senate Sessions. I couldn’t wait to tune in.

On the first day I logged in and watched the House. It went something like this: gavel in, make some announcements, give the representatives a few minutes to make comment and introduce their guests there watching them, file some bill numbers with the clerk, and adjourn. The entire process took about an hour. The next three days followed about the same format.

I was left thinking what the heck just happened? Our state has a huge fiscal crisis facing us. I remember thinking I would be pretty pissed if I were elected to office and had to drive all the way to Frankfort every day for this!

But this is what happens on the surface, the part we see. What was really happening was going on before and after the session. The first day, after they adjourned, the Republican and Democrat caucuses met individually in different rooms and elected leadership. There is also time for committees to meet, which is where the actual bills are written before being brought to the floor.

While I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to watch, I know that may be hard to believe, I know that my Representative and Senator was at work. We need to remember that there is a lot more to politics than what we see on the surface. On the positive side there are groups meeting to write and refine legislation. On the flip side, there are the backroom deals securing votes and meeting with lobbyists (watch “Lincoln” and think of Ben Nelson (D-NE) and the Cornhusker Kickback deal during the Obamacare passage).

That is why it is important for us to be ever vigilant and be an informed voter. In politics what you see is not always what you get.

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