Home Virginia Politics Short Sessions, Low Salaries, Limited Staff: “Government By Lobbyist”

Short Sessions, Low Salaries, Limited Staff: “Government By Lobbyist”


Virginia Capital: Richmond, VirginiaMatt Yglesias visits Phoenix and makes many of the same complaints we do about Richmond:

Specifically, the Arizona legislature combines low salary for members, short legislative sessions, term limits, and very limited staff (one secretary for every two state reps). This is all somehow supposed to keep representatives close to the people or prevent them from entrenching power, but in practice it amounts to a kind of government by lobbyist. […]

But this is something to keep in mind in the federal context when you hear about how this or that area of policy should be left up to the states. However unimpressed you may be by the wisdom of the United States Congress, it’s very difficult for me to think up complicated issues where pushing the issue down to under-resourced state legislators is likely to radically improve policymaking.

While Virginia’s legislature is larger than Arizona’s (good), its salary is even lower (bad). And its session is half as long as Arizona’s in budget years – and just a quarter of Arizona’s in non-budget years (terrible for citizens, GREAT if you’re a lobbyist). Read more about why the Virginia General Assembly needs reform.

  • scott_r

    Back at the beginning of the session VPR had Chip Woodrum and Charles Hawkins on taking calls and this short session issue came up. I asked very specifically if short sessions on nearly no salary weren’t a recipe for government by lobbyist, and their answer was “well, it’s OK, you just get your advice and education from competing lobbyists (interests)”.  Ridiculous.  

    As these special interest legislation drafting shops (I’m thinking of SB 1070) get more and more sophisticated, the ability of our legislators – even ones genuinely interested in good government (as opposed to government by the highest bidder) will be severely compromised.  

  • KathyinBlacksburg

    is exactly what you say.  Tow of Jan Brewer’s top staffers cam straight from the prison industrial complex lobby shops.  And guess who wrote Brewer’s immigration (err fill the private prisons) bill?

  • Glen Tomkins

    George Read was right.  He was the governor of Delaware, one of the delegates to the Constitutional convention.  He proposed just getting rid of the states.  

    It’s what they would have had to do if we were to have an actual Union.  The founders understood this perfectly well, as they had before them the example of the union of England and Scotland in 1707 to form Great Britain.  The Act of Union passed by both country’s parliaments ended their existence as separate countries, and created one new nation.

    But the founders fudged it.  They wanted to pretend that we had a Union, but wouldn’t or couldn’t actually do what they had to do to attain that end, abolish the states.  So they left us this legacy of an unresolved contradiction between the Supremacy Clause and the 10th Amendment.  

    Perhaps they figured the problem would take care of itself, that the states would just wither away as the federal govt evolved into our de facto actual govt.  The latter part of that did happen — even the Tenthers today, especially the Tenthers today, are rabid USA chauvinists.  Unfortunately, the rise of the federal govt to be our actual govt was not accompanied by the states gracefully bowing out.  They have proven too useful to interest groups that want to forum shop, that don’t like the result at the federal level, and so want to create 50 potential veto points.  States’ rights has never, well never sionce 1865, been about letting the states do their own thing.  It’s been about letting the Right have an underhanded tool to use in controlling the Union.

    The rest of us need to band together to get rid of the states before they are used by special interests and the Right as a means of getting rid of the Union, or at least any effective governance of the Union, so that they can be left free in their malefaction of great wealth.

    Let’s not mend the General Assembly, or the Commonwealth in general.  Don’t mend it, end it.