The Riehl World: A Lawmaker’s Lament

by Richard J. Riehl on April 19, 2012

Garrick PortYou can tell from his most recent mailer that Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Carlsbad, hates his job. He complains about having to work year-round in Sacramento, with little time to ask local voters what they want him to do there. Forced to accept an overblown salary while working full-time on issues that “are not priorities for the hard-working people of this state,” he can’t take a second job in the real world.

So what’s an unhappy State Assembly member to do? Survey his constituents, of course, to see if they agree he and his colleagues are overpaid, out of touch and underemployed.

Mindful of how busy we all are, Garrick boils his survey down to four simple, yes, or no questions and one “positive” or “negative” opinion. If you answer yes to the first question, lawmakers should have full-time careers and be part-time politicians, the next three are easy. Yes, you want a part-time legislature, yes, the legislature passes too many bills, and yes your representative is grossly overpaid. If you think “no” answers are acceptable, check out the answer sheet included or just Google “Congress: job ratings.”After acing the yes/no part of the test, you can find out why you should believe the legislature is having a negative effect on your quality of life. Garrick explains we could be better off emulating large states that have lower-paid, part-time politicians.

He praises Texas for enjoying “one of the fastest and most robust economies in the country.” The Lone Star State also leads the nation for its low cost of labor. One in every ten workers is paid at or below the federal minimum wage. Only 2 percent of California’s workforce earns $7.25 an hour or less.

While trickle-down economics doesn’t seem to be working in Texas, we could give it a try in California if we only had part-time, more business friendly lawmakers.

Calling his Sacramento workplace “nothing more than a bill factory,” Garrick says the 2,719 bills introduced last year were mostly unnecessary. He takes credit on his website for writing fifteen. The only one of his signed into law was a resolution declaring February 6, 2011 “Ronald Reagan Day,” apparently one of his “priorities for the hardworking people of this state.” With a record like that, who can blame him for feeling grumpy in his termed-out year?

Disgruntled, yet not discouraged, Garrick has already formed an exploratory committee to consider a run for the state senate in 2014, when 38th District Senator Mark Wyland is termed out. Maybe he was persuaded to go back to work in the bill factory by a variation of the old Peace Corps recruitment pitch: Serving in the State Legislature—The Worst Job You’ll Ever Love.

Richard J. Riehl writes from Carlsbad. Contact him at fogcutter1@yahoo.com

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