For today a question of propriety and ethics; if you are elected as a representative of the people should you vote on proposed bills that will regulate your regular profession? Would that vote give you the appearance of being self-serving and taking care of self first?
Sometimes minor issues can be turned into major campaign issues when they are blown all out of proportion by political operatives. Sometimes a freshman legislator may not see the potential for controversy in a bill that is so non-controversial as to pass without a single nay vote.
For example a legislator is a plumber and co-sponsors a bill, “To allow plumbers and electricians required to pursue certificates of continuing education in order to maintain licensure to take a four-hour OSHA refresher training course every five years rather than a ten-hour training course every five years.” Should the plumber be a co-sponsor of the bill and should he vote to approve the bill or should he abstain or not vote on that particular bill?
How far should our plumber go in taking a position that has the appearance of being self-serving? In this case the proposal did not need his vote and was non-controversial. How would you advise a freshman legislator in the future, would you advise him to refrain from getting into this position?
The wording for the above bill is taken directly from the records of our state legislature SB-480, a bill that passed with a vote of 145 in favor and 6 not voting. The co-sponsor of SB-480 was local electrician and State Representative Tim Ackert a freshman legislator. While the bill received strong bi-partisan support and was considered an improvement to existing law perhaps under the circumstances Mr. Ackert should have refrained from voting on this particular bill.
Mr. Ackert has done a creditable job as a freshman legislator making appearances and being available to listen to constituents. Like all freshmen without much political experience he is learning on the job.
While SB-480 was not his finest hour it was an opportunity to learn when to step aside in the interest of appearance and propriety. In this case no harm, no foul is the call here.