Kudo and Uh-Oh
Regarding the lottery, State Senator Johnny Key said in a recent Baxter Bulletin "I was not a supporter, but I think the voters were clear in their vote, so now our job is to implement the lottery system that is going to have the best effect and do the least damage when it comes to government being involved in that kind of business."
Of course, the voters were clear on term limits too, but somehow that issue keeps getting revisited (as with a proposed amendment a couple of years back that would weaken term limits). And despite dire warnings from 20 year legislators about what would happen without 20 year legislators, things have gone, well, no worse than before. Even in the article Key mentions that it was the "smoothest session in some time" last go-around.
The people were mis-informed by a complicit state print media when they voted in that lottery proposal. It is going to be a disaster which heaps funds in what is already one of the most over-funded areas of state government. In a representative democracy, people count on their representatives who study issues in more depth to separate good ideas from bad. All they voted to do with this amendment was empower the legislature to create a lottery if they thought it was a good idea. Within the framework of the passed amendment, its is a terrible idea.
Some legislators are so anxious to spend the money they are going to con from the poor suckers of this state that they are in a hurry to abdicate their responsibilities in a representative republic. There is no need to blunder into this fiscal ambush.
On the other hand, Speaker Steve Harrelson's excellent blog draws our attention to the intent of representative-elect Duncan Baird to not accept any gifts from lobbyists. In effect he is going to try to have a personal "not one cup of coffee" rule like the one proposed by former State Senator Jim Holt. It was not a popular idea with other legislators and Speaker Harrelson's post gives us some idea why as he discusses the difficulty in staying gift-free in an environment where free meals and gifts permeate the culture.
You show up at an event to learn about an issue, and they are serving a meal. You open your mail box, and it contains an unsolicited gift. (Maybe he can re-gift some of the best stuff to a hard working blogger?). Kudo's to Baird for even making the effort. We hope he gets a little help in the way of stricter ethics rules which tamp down on gift-giving to legislators.