By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator, District 25
After the session, it can be fun to read the reports from groups who follow the legislature and see how they view what we have done and why. (It reminds me of when I served my mission in Holland and read their version of history and found out that they were the ones who won World War II. I did not realize that American involvement was so insignificant!) I learn things about the session that I did not know – and am often amused by what impact these groups felt they had asserted.
I believe we need to find new, better ways to keep in contact with the groups that closely follow the legislative session. Some of my constituents make the trip from Cache Valley; many E-mail me during the session. This type of contact enhances the process. It is easier to understand our differences and reach common ground when such interaction takes place. I am sure all legislators would agree that contact from our local voters has a far greater impact than a paid lobbyist (who may see me several times at the Capitol – with various positions that are sometimes in conflict). E-mail and the internet have made that possible.
I try to walk out in the lobby after each day’s sessions just to see who needs to stop and talk with me. I try to hold public meetings back home during the Legislative Session, and send E-mail messages to those who have asked for feedback or session reports. Still, I don’t think that is enough.
Maybe people feel they are too busy to take the time, but they, ultimately, own this government and are responsible for how it operates. They really need to do more than catch a three-minute report on TV or follow the few “sensational” stories picked up by the press. I frequently speak to groups about what we are trying to do; a favorite question is to ask them to name their state senator or state representative. Most can’t. There are elections coming up this year – party conventions, primaries, and the final election. I plead with everyone to take time to get involved.