Politico reports that the practice of issuing proclamations and similar matters during sessions of the U.S. House of Representatives may end. Says the story: “Republicans are moving to get rid of House votes on symbolic resolutions and are planning to post their internal conference rules online, two minor yet politically important changes to the party’s operating guidelines. … The GOP next Wednesday is set to adopt a new set of Republican Conference rules that will place tight restrictions on who and what the House can honor, a bid to cut time they consider wasted on the floor.”
This would be a great step forward. Not only do these resolutions, etc. waste time, they serve as taxpayer-funded, continual advertisements for the glory of government and all its trappings. It happens not only in Washington, but in Topeka and other state capitals across the country. It happens at county commission meetings. It happens at city council meetings and school board meetings.
At Wichita City Council meetings, there have been cases where the meaningful business of the council has not started until nearly one hour after the start of the meeting. The hour has been consumed by proclamations, awards, remarks by council members, etc.
While this happens, citizens with business before the council wait. And wait. They’re wasting their time and money. Their attorneys, representatives, or employees may be there with them, racking up legal bills and wasting time and money while listening to the mayor or other official read proclamations.
Sometimes this period before the start of the meeting’s meaningful business is given over to business-like activities that government owns and that compete with private sector business. For example, Sedgwick County Commission meetings feature promotion of events upcoming at the Intrust Bank Arena, which the county owns. Can you imagine being the owner of a business that competes with the arena — and almost any business involved in entertainment, sports, or leisure competes for consumers’ disposable entertainment dollars — and having to listen to these advertisements, paid for by taxpayer dollars?
We need to dedicate these public meetings to public business. Members of Congress, legislators, council members, and school board members, and commissioners need to be respectful of citizens’ time, and of their own and that of the government staff that must attend these meetings.