There’s an old saying that you should not watch laws and sausage being made since both of them are distasteful to watch. Sausage because raw, ground up meat with its bits of fat, gristle and maybe an occasional beak, snout or hoof is especially unappetizing. Legislative measures are included because getting the necessary votes for a bill’s passage frequently includes “horse trading” as individual legislators and even an entire parties demand items be made part of the measure in order to receive their vote for passage.
Michigan’s Proposal 1 that will be voted on in early May as a way of repairing the roads is what happens when a bill containing the legislative equivalent of gristle, beaks and snouts ends up out in public instead of becoming law behind closed doors. While a big deal is being made of its various pieces that have nothing to do with road repairs, I’m not sure this proposal is any different than what politicians in Lansing or Washington, D.C. have been doing for decades—or even a century or more. For example, the reason our nation’s capital is on the banks of the Potomac is the result of an agreement between Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison on the assumption of the states’ war debt following the Revolutionary War by the federal government, also known as the Compromise of 1790.
So while Proposal 1 is an ugly piece of legislative sausage, we shouldn’t be too surprised by it. It’s politics and the legislative process and it’s normal. The question is, can we live with it?