On Monday, I had a bill held in committee. When a bill gets held that means it’s done for the session.

But in this case, my bill dying in committee isn’t a bad thing.

A Kind of Boring Bill

Let me provide a little background.

The bill dealt with an issue that’s probably not top of mind: legal public notices. You know — those things that appear in the newspaper like an announcement for a public meeting, a new RFP for a government project or a probate notice.

I tried to address the concerns I’ve heard from folks on both sides of the subject. Past efforts to modify this process usually involved an internet-only solution. But I recognize that there are still people who rely on newspapers for their information, particularly in outlying areas. What I proposed was a bit of hybrid, with notices appearing online plus still appearing the newspaper.

A Bill Nobody Liked

The funny part: neither side liked what I proposed.

Newspapers believed the bill went too far because I cut back the number of times a notice had to appear.

Cities and counties didn’t believe it went far enough because they still had to print a notice in the newspapers.

Throughout the testimony, it was clear that all parties came forward with a positive intent. There was no name calling or finger pointing. Just a thoughtful discussion about what I proposed.

As we reached the end of testimony, a representative of the newspaper industry volunteered he’d been in discussions with one of the county folks. They were committed to working together in the interim to figure out a proposal before the next session.

The representative for the counties agreed, and both indicated they were willing to work with me to find a solution.

Encouraged by what I heard, I asked the committee to hold my bill, and we’ll see what happens next.

Beyond Pass and Fail

The legislative process isn’t always about what passes and fails. Instead, success is often found in the conversations started by the process.

We often get caught up in the headlines and sometimes forget that the dialogue happening behind the scenes can end up accomplishing so much more. In fact, some of the things that look so easy from the outside only happened because people were willing to invest the time to work through issues beforehand.

The road to success in politics only rarely follows a straight path. Most of the time there are detours, road blocks, and missed exits before we get to where we want to go.  

As a result, I know this process can prove frustrating for the folks affected. Why can’t the obvious, good things just happen? Why does it look like we’re dragging our feet or ignoring the requests of our constituents?

I get it, and I appreciate the frustration.

Having the Conversation Matters

We need to do a better job of explaining the ins and outs of what’s happening. Throughout this session, I’ve so appreciated the conversations I’ve had with folks on different issues. Sometimes we’re in agreement, other times we disagree, but I’ve never been disappointed that we had the conversation.

I want the people I represent to know what’s happening. Part of that knowing means sharing some of the sausage making. It’s not always pretty. It doesn’t always make sense. But when you’re working as a legislator in a republic, you owe it to the people you represent to shine a light when they ask questions.

As we get closer to the end of the session, more bills will cross the floor. If you’re following along (you can find our third reading calendar here), feel free to reach out if you have any questions about a specific bill.