Since it's an election year, I don't expect much from our various legislative bodies, what with all the fundraising, cocktail parties, trips to the Minneapolis airport men's bathroom, political conventions, campaigning, looking into the baseball steroid scandal, trying to locate the rocker that Ron Paul fell off of, political junkets, extended summer vacations, DUI traffic stops and subsequent appearances in court. Still, hope springs eternal, and maybe a few things can get done. Who knows?
Our state Legislature must dig itself out of a budget mess it helped create by going on a tax-cut spree that coincided with increases in expenditures. Legislators were apparently somehow under the assumption that the boom that the state was experiencing at the time would go on forever, or at least until they were out of office.
The legislators need to know that we all understand that society needs things that can only be paid for through taxation. We need police and fire protection, roads, schools, prisons and so on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that we don't need that are also paid for through taxation.
I cringe at the concept of publicly funded art. In fact, the very thought of publicly funded art would probably send me screaming into the street were it not for the possibility that I might encounter a piece of publicly funded art out there, which would then send me screaming back inside.
Hey, maybe I could turn it into some kind of workout. Start at City Hall, run down to the Main Library, catch a glimpse of "What the Hell Were You On?--in Red" and then run back to City Hall to demand a refund.
Our legislators also need to realize that the economy is going to have down periods. It will generally trend upward, but it will occasionally lag. How freakin' hard could it be to soften the slope of the tax-cut curve a bit so that we don't face these jolting times?
You want to cut taxes; knock yourself out. But don't cut them by 20 percent one year when you know there's a very real chance that you'll have to raise them by 10 percent the next year to cover a budget shortfall. Just cut them by 10 percent in the first place. That way, you can brag to the Republicans that you cut taxes, and the level-headed voters can see that you have a little common sense.
Also, what's with the number of bills before the Legislature? As I write this, there are 152 bills before the House and 85 before the Senate. (There are also numerous memorials and resolutions, which carry no actual weight, but use up actual time, energy and paper.)
For example, House Bill 2009 deals with (and I'm not making this up) "child bigamy; custody and parenting time."
It reads: "Unless the court finds that there is no significant risk to the child and states its reasons in writing, the court shall not grant a person sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child or unsupervised parenting time with a child if the court finds sufficient evidence to believe that the person has engaged in the practice of child bigamy as prescribed by section 13-3609 and will continue to engage in the practice of child bigamy in the future."
I read that and honestly thought that "child bigamy" meant something other than the obvious, sort of like "animal husbandry." I figured it couldn't possibly mean what it says; otherwise, HBO is going to have a series called Little Love.
So I checked the Arizona Revised Statutes and, sure enough, there are definitions, including one saying that it's considered child bigamy if a person "is at least 18 years of age, (already) has a spouse and marries a child."
Really?! We need a law to tell us that such a person needs to have his ass beaten? One of the six different definitions of child bigamy is: "If the person is 18 years of age and marries a child if the child already has a spouse." Is the child committing the bigamy in that case?
Then there's HB 2126 that deals with "dual-flush toilets," and Senate Bill 1067, which is described as "escape; definition." We need to define "escape?" It's the worst pop tune ever, also known as "The Piña Colada Song."
And HCM 2003 strongly urges the Congress of the United States not to merge into one big country with Canada and Mexico (one of the big fears among RonPaulistas). Like that was actually going to happen.
Let's imagine: The U.S. Senate is about to vote on this, because Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (who believes that the Internet involves tubes and pipes) thinks that if Canada were part of the United States, it would shorten his commute time from Washington to Anchorage. Just as it's about to pass, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. says, "Wait, we can't do this! The Arizona House of Representatives strongly recommended against it."
To which Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, says, "Whew! That was a close call."
Our state legislators should keep it short and simple: Balance the budget, cut the crap and then go home. Otherwise, you'll have a conference committee trying to determine what to do if a child bigamist wants to use a dual-flush toilet.