And when the law becomes more about political one-upmanship than about righting a particular wrong, watching it made can leave you reaching for the anti-acid.
Which is why watching efforts to undo the harm done in 2007 when the Legislature voted itself a 61 percent pay raise have left many feeling queasy.
It started out simple enough.
When Republicans who campaigned on a promise to repeal the pay raise won a majority in both houses, most folks expected swift and sure action. But it didn’t come.
Instead of simply cutting salaries back to pre-2007 levels and getting on to other issues, legislators decided to prove just how responsible they were to their constituents by letting their constituents get into the process. To accomplish this, legislators proposed an amendment to Alabama’s amendment-bloated Constitution that would tie legislators’ pay to the median household income of Alabamians. Because constitutional amendments must be voted on by the people, this would let the people have a hand in slapping down the greedy.
Thus what was once simple and straightforward became increasingly complex and complicated, and by the time the plan cleared the state Senate, it had been changed to include not only an immediate repeal of the pay raise but provisions that lawmakers who took the raise would have to reimburse the state and that legislators would forfeit pay when unemployment was high.
Looking at what the proposal had become, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh called it “a monstrosity” and vowed to clean it up when it went into a conference committee with the House.
Let’s hope Sen. Marsh is successful.
The pay raise was ill-timed and excessive, and should be repealed. The proposal to base legislators pay on the median household income in the state has merit, although we wonder why it takes a constitutional amendment to accomplish it.
All the rest of the add-ons are there as filler which, as it is with sausage, is included to fool consumers into thinking that they are getting more than they really are.
But look on the bright side. Though what has taken place has been unsettling to watch, it is good that we did, for when it is done, those paying attention will know what they are getting.