Opinion: Legislators don’t represent real priorities of citizens

Many of us are hoping, praying, for sine die.

It would be different if our legislators showed an interest in passing useful legislation designed to invest in people and communities. Unfortunately, they seem obsessed with forcing us into submission to their own narrow views. Or, at least, the narrow views of their paymasters and out-of-state extremist groups.

While some bills, like the Clean Slate Act and funding the Launch Program, are rare highlights, most of this session has been very little beyond implementing bad culture war policy in response to made-up moral panics.

We worked hard to pass Medicaid expansion by a high margin. Yet the House voted to reject the Medicaid budget. They’re working to repeal the passage of Medicaid expansion. The same people who are perfectly happy taking federal subsidies for their farming and ranching ventures, the same people who are thrilled to take PPP loan forgiveness from government funds, are against the “principle” of federal funding when it benefits the citizens of the state.

We beg for education funding. We know the benefits. Yet it took an outcry for the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee to reverse an “oversight” that left millions in federal grants out of the budget. Even now, what they’ve “allowed” for our already-struggling early education and child care providers isn’t the extent of what we could have.

And let’s not forget our session-long fight against whatever they’re calling voucher schemes these days. It appears that the latest scam is dead for now. But who knows? The Legislature can now just call itself into session whenever it wants, so legislators could try to lull us into a sense of security and renew vouchers later in the year when we’re not on high alert.

The fact that we must be on high alert against whatever the Legislature will throw at us next is telling. We’ve had to battle for our voting rights this session, begging them not to take away our ability to vote by absentee ballot or affidavit. There’s no evidence of widespread fraud in our voting system, but extremists love to create a narrative in service of trying to take away our rights. They’re even trying to get us to vote against our initiative rights.

And the First Amendment? These extremists hardly know her. We’re fighting against book banning and bans on personal expression. I don’t know how these extremists parent, but my son could read whatever he wanted, and then we’d talk about it. He’s an adult now. Sometimes he has ideas that are different from mine. We talk about that too. But these extremists would rather none of us talk about things they don’t like.