It was a good day, for me, at least, although I’m not quite sure why. We voted on several bills today, and they were all fairly non-controversial bills that mostly did good things, or at least not real bad things (one of them was House File 2323, which is a bill that was important to Clinton’s landlord association and which I was happy to support). Then I worked on the judiciary and public safety bills on tomorrow’s debate calendar — some of these bills are controversial but I think that just maybe I was able to help work out a compromise agreement on one of them — but I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out for sure (and I’ll explain the bill and let you know how it worked out tomorrow as well …. ).
I really enjoy that part of this job — taking a bill that has some problems, and that clearly isn’t bipartisan, and taking it apart and trying to figure out how to make it into a bill that does more good than bad, and that will have support from both parties. And while (as I’ve mentioned previously) sometimes people are just bound and determined to run their bill in a fairly extreme version, even knowing doing so will effectively kill the bill in the Senate, often people actually want to pass bills that have a chance of becoming law, and that will do good things for Iowa, and when we can come to an agreement on how to do that, that’s a good day.
But credibility and respect is key to being able to be a viable part of this process, and oh my gosh if there’s one lesson that is driven home almost every day I’m out here, it’s that these are things you have to earn, day in and day out, over time — as in years, not months. So like all the other first-term legislators, I’m trying hard to prove that (1) I can be trusted to keep my word and that (2) when it comes to bills dealing with my fairly limited areas of expertise, I actually usually know what I’m talking about, but that (3) I’m willing to acknowledge that I’m not always right, and to ask for help if I need it.
I’m getting there, but it takes time, and we’re running out of that, this term. Which is why it’s generally accepted wisdom that a legislator can get a lot more done for his/her district in his/her second term than in the first, because he/she has put in the time and has hopefully proven his/her credibility and earned the respect of his/her colleagues (from both parties). And that’s the main reason I’ve decided to run for re-election — I’ve made a good beginning, I think, but I know that there’s so much more to do (e.g., a reasonable gas tax increase, for god’s sake!), and I know that I’ll be in a better position to help get it done, next year. Call it paying one’s dues, call it power, call it politics –whatever you call it, it is what it is, and I plan on using it next term — in a good way, to help get things done that help my district and my state.
Although don’t worry, I realize we have five more weeks of this session, and I intend to work hard to help pass decent education reform and mental health redesign bills. Not to mention all of the budget bills. Right this minute, however, I’m going to sleep, because it is past midnight and I am getting a little loopy, I think. Probably should wait til tomorrow to review this post before hitting the “publish” button. But I won’t.