Legislators need course in 'real world'

The 81st Legislative Session has come to a close. When it began one item of business on the agenda was the revision and continuation of the Texas Department of Transportation.

Under the Sunset Statutes this agency will be abolished unless continued by the legislature. This item was not addressed so a special session seems certain.

The legislature did address many issues, and these bills are currently awaiting approval or veto by the governor.

Many of the bills awaiting the pen of the Governor are quite different in their final version from the version initially introduced.

Many of the changes are a direct result of lobbying efforts by local government officials.

One of t he bi l ls t hat wa s amended during the process was HB 3390.

As introduced this bill would have required volunteer firefighters to obtain a minimum number of continuing education credits in specific areas on an annual basis.

Now on the surface this might seem to most to be a good idea. However, it indicates to me that our legislators might need some CEU's in volunteerism.

First of all volunteers are just that, volunteers. They get no pay and support their efforts out of their own pocket.

To add a stipulation that would require them to take time from their real jobs and spend more money out of their pockets might well cause some of them to reconsider volunteering.

Secondly, I am not exactly sure what legislators felt they could do to improve on the CEU's that firefighters are already receiving.

Most departments that I am familiar with have monthly drills and provide training for the members. There is also the annual fire school that is conducted each year by Texas A&M.

We are blessed in Milam County to have an abundance of individuals who volunteer their time to protect and serve the public.

I know that not all counties are as lucky as we are, but have found that most rural counties also have many folks who are committed to serving the community.

I am not sure that the legislators are aware of what it is like in the real world.

In their wisdom legislators have deemed it necessary to require just about everyone involved in anything to obtain continuing education.

This helps insure that we are current and up to date. Doctors, lawyers, elected officials, irrigators, plumbers you name it just about everyone has to obtain some sort of annual education.

All elected officials are required to get annual education, and I do have to say that we learn a great deal from our educational sessions.

Especially after a legislative session.

The only folks that I know who do not have to get continuing education are our state representatives. After seeing some of the bills that come through the process in Austin it looks as though many of our reps could use a dose of reality education.

So, w ith a special session almost a certainty, we have to make sure that TXDOT survives.

I would like to propose that continuing education be added to the special session agenda and made a requirement for all state representatives and senators.

Guess we need to go ahead and include all state elected officials.

Courses in municipal and county government would help them understand what life is like in the real world.

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2009-06-18 digital edition

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