I received an email in my inbox last week from House
District 15 Representative Brad Wilson which looks curiously similar to an
article by Brad Dee (R), Ogden that was published in the Standard Examiner
The mashup (Brad Wilson in Bold, Brad Dee in red and my
comments [in square brackets and italicized]):
One of the questions I'm often asked by constituents and in particular school children, is how I decide which bills to vote for and which bills to vote against. It can be a somewhat complicated question to answer. Nearly 1,000 bills are filed for consideration each session. Obviously this number represents a lot of issues covering a wide variety of topics that affect many people.
The Legislature considers nearly 1,000 bills every year in the short timeframe of 45 days. I employ a range of strategies to help me get a sense of how the communities I represent feel about the issues of the day. Obviously not everyone is united on a course of action, so one of the most important factors I consider when casting a vote is the feedback from my pre-session legislative surveys.
The ancient Greeks had a system of democracy where every male citizen had the opportunity to cast votes for himself in the assembly. Our system is a set up to be a representative republic where we select one person to speak and vote on behalf of a set number of people. This system has its challenges. Whereas an ancient Greek male citizen had only his own views to consider when voting, your legislators must weigh the views of tens of thousands when casting ballots.
Due to the large number of bills and the complexity of some issues, legislators employ a wide range of strategies when deciding how to vote. One that my colleagues and I use is to send out a survey to constituents asking questions about the hot issues expected to come before the Legislature.
We forecast what we think will be the most pressing issues. For instance in our survey this year, I asked for feedback on budget items, liquor licenses, and immigration reform just to name a few items. Obviously I received a wide variety of responses, but the surveys show how the majority of our constituents feel on a particular issue and can guide my vote on specific bills.
The Legislature considers nearly 1,000 bills every year in the short timeframe of 45 days. I employ a range of strategies to help me get a sense of how the communities I represent feel about the issues of the day. Obviously not everyone is united on a course of action, so one of the most important factors I consider when casting a vote is the feedback from my pre-session legislative surveys. Each year, before the session begins, I compile a list of questions on the hot topics that are expected to come before the Legislature and ask my constituents to let me know what they think. This year I asked about topics ranging from possible budget cuts to liquor licenses to immigration reform.
[1. It is unlikely that a majority of House District 15
responded, 2. responses are very unlikely to be a representative sample and 3.
if you can't tell here, it was a statewide push poll--my biggest topics of
concern are nowhere within this 'survey'.]
Another tool we use when deciding how to vote is our campaign platform and issues that might have been debated during the campaign.
While campaigning, we talk about our views and the issues we will and will not
support if elected. A winning candidate can reasonably assume that he or she
won because the majority of the voters agreed with his or her views on public
policy and that platform can then serve as a measuring stick on how to vote.
[73% of Utahns polled support non-partisan redistricting
and the legislature will not even discuss the concept. 78% of Utahns support
direct non-partisan school board elections but a bill to make them partisan
elections is likely to pass. Meanwhile the governor pre-screens who will be on
the ballot for school board. It is a misnomre to 'reasonably assume that he or
she won because the majority of voters agreed with his or her views'. The
lesser of two evils is the more likely explanation.]
During the session, I do my best to communicate with you and let you know what issues are coming up that will affect our communities. I get a lot of emails and phone calls from people that want us to vote for or against a certain issue and those contacts, particularly from our own constituents, are very persuasive. Sometimes, however, an issue will come up where the constituency is evenly divided or the issue hits so quickly that there isn't time for feedback. [Or the Eagle Forum has me
under duress] Sometimes the facts change with an amendment to a bill or
issues come up that make it reasonable to vote differently than we might
otherwise have done. In those cases, legislators have to rely on their
instincts for what is the best policy call.
[Duly noted, and he is better at being responsive than his predecessors.]
[In a sneaky little bender, this showed up a little out of order at the top of Dee’s op ed].
During the session, I often get e-mails and calls from constituents urging me to vote this way or that way on a particular issue. Sometimes I even get feedback from folks after the fact that think I voted on the wrong side of an issue and wonder what on earth I could possibly have been thinking! The considerations that go into a vote are many and varied, but the most important consideration is you.
I take very seriously the charge to represent you and reflect the values and beliefs of our community. Don't be afraid to reach out and let me know how you feel about the issues of the day. I can't represent you well if I don't know your views.
We take our charge very seriously to represent you and to reflect the values and beliefs of our communities. Don't be afraid to reach out and let your legislators know how you feel about the
issues of the day. We can't represent you if we don't know your views.