Only two weeks into the New Year, Republican Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch says there's no time left in 2008 for the Assembly to pass comprehensive health care reform or a statewide smoking ban in public places. He also says he's not sure there's time to bother with campaign finance reform, which would help address the problems behind those other issues.
Dealing with such issues would be a strain for a crew who met only 20 days in 2007 and is scheduled to meet sporadically between now and the end of May and then take off the rest of the year. By the way, legislators are paid $47,413 a year. When they are in Madison on business, those who live outside Dane County also get $88 a day in living expenses; legislators who live in Dane County get $44 a day.
Sadly, the real reason is they don't want to approve any public policy that irritates big business and other well-heeled special interests that will spend millions of dollars on campaign contributions to legislators and nasty advertising and other outside electioneering activities between now and the November 2008 elections.
If you need proof, it's no secret how business, manufacturing and other wealthy special interests feel about major health care reform.
Huebsch also says the proposed statewide smoking ban in public places faces an "uphill battle in this house and in the Senate." No wonder. The 52-member Assembly Republican majority has accepted $132,845, or an average of $2,555 each, from tavern owners from 2003 through 2006.
Only in the political arena do cutting work and accomplishing less get you more money and improve your job security.