Legislation takes different tack

Friday, February 8, 2013

If first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Or, maybe you should try something entirely different.

That's probably the point of several pieces of legislation, proposed at the state and national level.

One, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and pending in the Senate, would deny members of Congress their paychecks if they don't pass a budget.

Another, proposed by Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, would remove the governor, attorney general and other elected officials off Nebraska's state employee health insurance plan.

It could be tit for tat, in that state lawmakers don't receive health or life insurance, but can buy into the state system if they pay the full price, about $300 a month for an individual or more than $1,000 for a family.

If passed, all state legislators, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer and state auditor would have to seek private insurance starting in July 2014, but the sponsor said he would be open to grandfathering eligibility for those already in office.

The real purpose was probably illuminated at the end of the Associated Press story, with noted "Nordquist said elected officials wouldn't be left without coverage because they could choose to use the federal health insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act, like members of Congress will start doing in 2014."

The no-paycheck bills in Congress are more symbolic than anything, since the average median net worth for the 535 members of Congress is $966,000, compared to $66,740 for the average American household.

Unfortunately, the "No Budget No Pay" bill passed by the house -- which would require a budget by tax day, April 15 -- may be unconstitutional because of the 27th Amendment, which prohibits Congress from "varying" its own pay until another House election has passed.

But that April 15 date may be a good idea -- how about setting April 15 as election day, to remind people where the money went and who's responsible?

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