Committee observations

January 21, 2010
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If I checked my Blackberry, read the news online, generally just didn’t pay attention, or even got up and left during a meeting, I think that would be rude behavior. But my behavior would be acceptable apparently as a member of our General Assembly.

I’m pretty green when it comes witnessing firsthand the workings of our legislators, so I was caught off guard at how the committee meeting I attended took place. I was amazed at how long it took for the 8:30 a.m. meeting to start. I foolishly thought that I had to be there right on time and that the legislators would value punctuality. I’m sure they are busy and have a lot to do and would want to get the show on the road, but that didn’t happen for another 20 minutes.

Some of the senators in this particular meeting checked their phones, got up frequently, and even stared into space for a period of time while someone was testifying about a bill.

Someone who doesn’t work in government or work with the government may be offended by the behavior if they aren’t prepared for it. To spend your time preparing a statement and then looking up to see what appears to be half the committee not paying attention would frustrate me.

In the private workplace, this behavior during a meeting wouldn’t fly, but as I attend more meetings and hearings, I’ll learn that’s just how it’s done in the legislature.

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