The end of the legislative session is approaching. Time is short, and tempers are a bit frayed. The norm of politeness and friendliness among legislators is now abandoned with some frequency. Case in point: two recent conversations with my Democratic colleague Rep. Cheapstunt (his name has been changed to protect the guilty):
I. The scene: just after yesterday’s State Agencies committee meeting, in which one of my bills, HB 2096, (links opens in PDF file) narrowly failed to clear committee.
ME: Sorry I couldn’t get your vote on the bill. Maybe I could amend it to get your support. Say, didn’t you tell me a while back that you supported my bill?
ME: Ah. What happened?
CHEAPSTUNT: (Grins.) Changed my mind.
II. The scene: earlier today, just after Rep. Frank Glidewell and I presented his HB 2216 bill to the Judiciary Committee and started to take questions about it. Cheapstunt asks one of the first questions.
CHEAPSTUNT: Because the governor opposes this bill, I’d like to know if either of you have met with any of his staffers to work out your differences on it.
(ME and GLIDEWELL, at the end of the table, look at each other and confirm that nobody from the governor’s office has approached either one of us to discuss the bill or otherwise informed us about the governor’s views on it.)
ME: This is the first that I’ve been told about this. Obviously I am happy to meet with the governor anytime. If the governor or his staff wants to tell us how he feels about a bill, he can find us. We’re up in Room 350 most afternoons.
(That’s probably a little more cogently put than what I said, but you get the picture.)
I like Rep. Cheapstunt, despite his inconstancy and his desire in hearings to throw sucker punches. Cheapstunt tends to become more partisan towards the end of the session, but he is hardly the only offender in this respect. In fact, after he announced a few weeks ago that he was going to run for state senate, I told him that I would support him. On the other hand, it’s a legislator’s prerogative to change his mind.