Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Too Many Laws

 


This year’s legislative session has been one of the most counterproductive we have had in recent years—from the rammed in gasoline tax increase, to overspending, to more extreme seat belt penalties, to the brain-dead 1.5 mile limit for driving in the left lane of a highway. These and other violations of our liberty are not only terrible, but they were shoved down our throats by our mostly Republican representatives and senators by ridiculously huge margins. And then, our governor, Kay Ivey, just signed them without giving a moment’s thought about their grave consequences. Hey, Kay, what happened to your veto pen?

For example, look at the left lane fiasco. Much of the time, both right and left lanes are full of traffic. Being forced to cut back into the right lane before 1.5 miles are up is going to entice a great deal of reckless lane changing and accidents, especially when there is limited or no room in the right lane to safely return to it. Functionally, this is turning a four lane highway into a two lane one. Can you say, “Traffic jam?” Have the people we elected, after only a few months, completely forgotten why we put them up there? We did not elect them to pass a bunch of new laws, but to do exactly the opposite—arrest and roll back spending, taxes, and the rampant growth of our state government, and repeal the abusive laws we already have. We the people have said it again and again at political rallies and various events. They had given their word that they would heed our advice.

And what did they do the very next year (this one)? LIAR, LIAR! PANTS ON FIRE! These actions are all the more painful because they were imposed almost immediately after the last election, and now, we have to suffer and sit on our thumbs for three and a half more years before we get an opportunity to vote them out in the next election.

And where are the Tea Party people? Why aren’t there any protests anymore? Why aren’t the people demanding accountability, and for that matter, even impeachment? The burden of too many laws is catastrophic. Having too many laws makes them difficult to enforce. True, the abusive laws should not be enforced anyway, but what often happens is that law enforcement frequently enforces the victimless offenses that produce revenue for the officers and provide warm bodies for the prison industrial complex while neglecting genuine criminal actions. If you want to back that argument up, ask yourself why the United States has a greater percentage of its population in prison than any other nation.

We have a serious problem with our state government. Now more than ever, we must cut it down to manageable size before it eats us alive. But how can we do it when we have to endure three additional sessions before we can even take action at the polls?

When our state constitution was written in 1901, legislative elections were held every four years, just like they are today. But regular legislative sessions were also pegged at every four years (quadrennially). And they were limited to a maximum of 60 days—that’s 60 days for a period of four years. The people were not subjected to four regular sessions and a number of special sessions before they had the opportunity to replace those who proved to be corrupt.

Unfortunately, in 1939, the Alabama electorate recklessly ratified regular sessions every two years (biannually), and later in 1975, annual sessions. But elections remained only once every four years. That is too much time for politicians to rip the people off before they get replaced. As a result, we have suffered massive increases in government abuse and corruption.

There is a simple way we can mitigate this problem: We could require that our legislature meet only just prior to the primary of a general election. This will allow the people to enforce accountability while their minds are still fresh. Corrupt officials would no longer be able to force the voters to wait for lengthy periods and then forget their misdeeds.

Regular sessions would begin in January, last no more than 60 calendar days, and occur only in years of general elections. A regular session must always be followed by a primary and a general election—no exceptions. And no more than one special session (maximum 30 calendar days) shall be allowed between elections.

If we must have annual sessions (which in my opinion are way too many), then we must hold those elections every year. If we choose biannual sessions (my preference), then we must hold legislative and gubernatorial elections every two years (Many other states do this.).

Or we could stick to our four year election cycle. But if we do, then only one regular session shall be allowed, and only during the election year—and only one special session during the four years.

In addition, we must stop electing people by pluralities. We must always require a runoff in every election where no candidate receives a majority of the votes.

We also need ballot access reform. If a person is a legal voter and over the age of 30, then he should not be barred from ballot access in a general or special election. He should not be required to collect signatures or pay a fee to get on the ballot. He should be allowed to run as an independent or in whatever party he chooses.

These reforms would also apply to county and municipal elections.

This will still not guarantee accountability, but it will be a huge improvement over the system we have now.

Unfortunately, getting this proposal into practice is likely to be problematic. Since it is our legislators who make the laws, they are the ones who would have the task of making these reforms. But politicians, most of them aspiring to be self-serving rulers, are not likely to be generous enough to allow more competition from the people—that is—until the people become bold enough to demand these reforms.

 

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