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Del. Ken Plum: Efficiency Over Effectiveness

by Karen Goff February 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm 12 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoAt the time of this writing, the General Assembly seems to be on course for an earlier than scheduled Feb. 28 adjournment date.

For a part-time legislature that in recent years has found it difficult to stay within its 60-day session in the even-numbered years and 45-day session in the odd-numbered years, finishing work ahead of schedule would be unprecedented.

The good news for the Commonwealth would be savings in the money it costs to run the legislature; for many members who have employment obligations and for all who leave their families, an early adjournment would mean a return to normal living. For legislative members running for re-election — all of us this year because all House of Delegates and State Senate seats are up for election this November — adjournment of the General Assembly would mean an early start to fundraising prohibited during the legislative session and campaigning.

Among those who believe the old adage that “the Commonwealth in its persons and property is never safe when the legislature is in session” there is probably a collective sigh of relief when the legislature adjourns sine die (without a future date set).

Adoption of various forms of technology over the past several years has sped up the law-making process. For most members, the process is now essentially paperless. Mammoth bill binders have been replaced with laptops and iPads. The floor voting system that was a series of electric switches when I first went to the legislature is now electronic. Citizens have complete access to bill texts and histories, including member voting records at http://lis.virginia.gov.

A serious question remains as to whether the push for efficiency and early adjournment is in the best interests of constituents. While more than 2,500 bills and resolutions were considered in record time, did the work of the people get done? In too many major instances it is clear that important work was put aside in the interest of efficiency that represents a serious loss to constituents.

Certainly the refusal to take up Medicaid expansion reduced debate, but it meant the loss of health care coverage for nearly 400,000 working poor Virginians and the loss of billions of dollars paid by Virginia taxpayers that will not be returned to the state. Lost, too, is the economic stimulus that would have come from the provision of more health care services in the state.

I am not sure that advocates of the state ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, establishing an independent redistricting commission, or passing common sense gun safety measures will be too impressed with the efficiency of the legislature that came at the expense of their issue not being adequately addressed. Nor will local governments and school boards and colleges and universities that are being severely pinched by reductions in state assistance.

A more significant metric that should be applied to the General Assembly is not how few or how many days the members were at the Capitol but rather how many significant issues faced by Virginians were effectively addressed.

Ken Plum represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. His opinions are not necessarily those of Reston Now’s.

  • Mike M

    Ken, your presumption is that less efficiency would be more effective, yet you provide no evidence of this whatsoever.
    In general, I find that Liberals eschew efficiency in all cases, if they even understand it.

  • Ming the Merciless

    Ken, your ideas are so lame they can’t even get out of committee, and more time talking about them isn’t going to change that.

    One way to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the legislature — get rid of Ken Plum.

    • WhoIsJohnGalt

      That won’t happen when he has Reston Now carrying his water and publishing his dribble week in and week out

      • Karen Goff

        When you are elected to office, you too can have the space here.

      • John Glat

        I’m an architect who believes in the triumph of the individual over collectivism. Perhaps market forces are at work? Maybe KP is paying more for the bandwidth to deliver his message than you are Whois?

        • Ming the Merciless

          Market forces? Ken Plum is paid by the Virginia taxpayers — what does the “market” have to do with it?

          Plus I doubt he pays anything to have his idiotic screeds appear here.

      • Ming the Merciless

        The mindless “progressive” zealots in Reston would vote for a warmed-over corpse if it had a D next to its name. Case in point: Ken Plum!

  • Greg

    Yes, Ken, the work of the people got done. Please take a good, long look at our neighboring representative’s accomplishments. James M. LeMunyon (67th Dist.)

    The socialists, like you, however, are in the minority and got nothing done. No number of costly extensions will help.

    Now, please take a ride around our poorly plowed and even more poorly maintained streets and count how many dangerous potholes you see. Beware of falling debris from bridges and pray to the demon of your choosing when turning as the piles of snow will obscure clear views.

  • Rational Reston

    Nice, a lecture of efficiency from someone who puts forth legislation that doesn’t go anywhere, from someone who never mentions compromise, from someone who constantly points his finger while labeling and disparaging contrary opinions, from someone who champions issues which apparently very few in Virginia care about.

    Go make some more runs at your windmills Delegate Quixote.

  • Karen Goff

    OK – I am going to ask nicely. Please keep comments respectful and refrain from personal attacks, which this is kind of right on the line. You do not have to agree with Mr. Plum, but make your argument respectfully. Thanks.

    • CE

      Thank you Karen. Mr. Plum was a distinguished gentleman.

      • CE

        Ugh, I meant is. Hope and Change.

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