Aug 20, 2007

Asking reservists and guard members called to active duty to resign from the Legislature is anti-military and wrong

I really hadn’t take a position nor intended to on the Senate Resolution introduced by Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Howell, that calls for an amendment to the state Constitution to allow the effected lawmaker to pick their own fill-in if they are called to active duty in the Reserves or National Guard a for more than a year until I saw the editorial in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

“Bad idea. If a lawmaker can no longer perform his or her duties, he or she should resign. There are the provisions for filling the vacancy.”

I’m surprised at this anti-military position by the editorial board. Perhaps they have never heard of the federal law that covers Re-employment Rights of Veterans Returning to Civilian Jobs. Under the law:

"A person who left a civilian job to enter active duty in the armed forces is entitled to return to the job after discharge or release from active duty if they gave advance notice of military service to the employer, did not exceed five years cumulative absence from the civilian job, submitted a timely application for re-employment, and they did not receive a dishonorable or other punitive discharge. The law calls for a returning veteran to be placed in the job as if they had never left.”

Granted, I understand the situation differs for an elected official, but the principal should be the same. I also disagree with Garcia on how the position should be filled, but I agree with him 100 percent that it should be filled. There is no reason to penalize the lawmaker for serving their country, and to ask him or her to make another sacrifice and resign a position they worked so hard to obtain. Nor should the constituents be penalized for electing a patriotic lawmaker.

I think a district should have someone to represent them, and if not the voters are simply being cheated. In November of 2005 when Rep. Herb Kehrl, D-Monroe, passed away while in office, the residents of the 56th District did not have anyone representing them, other than the state Senator. I think they lost out. The position was empty until Rep. Kate Ebli was elected last November. The governor could have held a special election to fill it, but that would have cost a lot of money.

Senate Joint Resolution F, calls for the called-up legislator to recommend a substitute who meets all the requirements for holding the office, and the appointment would be contingent upon approval by the local political party in the district a lawmaker represents.

I think it should be handled the same way vacant state judgeships are handled with some slight variations. The Governor should appoint someone, and the Senate should confirm them. If could also be the house where the person will sit that confirms the nominee, or the political party could nominate someone.

The debate should be about how the position will be filled not that it should not be filled.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand the logic of your argument. If an elected official is unable to perform their duty, (for any reason) they have an obligation to resign. They should put their constituents above their personal ambition.

And, to delegate that power to anyone, including the governor, the local political party or the legislative body the offical belongs to, that is wrong.

An election is the only fair way to choose a representative. I know there are provisions for US senators which differ from this, but I don't agree that is the correct solution there either.

Sen. Garcia is wrong and the Press and Argus is right. The people should be grateful for the time they were represented by a patriotic politician put in that hypothetical situation and any truly patriotic politican should trust his constituents to fill his shoes with an equally qualified representative.

Communications guru said...

Think you for posting. I will try to clarify my logic and position. In an all volunteer military far too many Americans serve, so why are we going to penalize those that have a sense of duty for wanting to do their duty and serve their country? It’s simply not fair.

Giving people more reasons not to do their duty and serve their country does not make sense, and that is the only thing that’s wrong. I guess that’s why Mitt Romney says his children are better serving their country by getting him elected president than serving in uniform. Let the poor and middle class kids risk their lives and sacrifice and serve in the military.

Chet said...

Being a legislator is NOT A JOB, nor something one is entitled to, which is the underlying assumption here.

It's public service. If you've already signed up for other national public service which requires that you be called up to active duty, that service overrides your duties to the State. While I would agree the time shouldn't count against term limits, I wouldn't give the person called up the ability to appoint a successor (speak of cronyism possibilities). Indeed, Gubernatorial or worse, Party Hack Appointments, are as open to that problem. Current law dictates how positions must be filled within certain time frames, and in a House of 110 members the temporary absence of a member while waiting for an election, the proper way to fill the seat, is not a catastrophe. Keep in mind that an appointment also gives that person powers of incumbency, frank mail budgets, etc., all of which bias the eventual fill-election.

Communications guru said...

I’m not sure being a legislator is not a job, but there is absolutely no reason we should penalize someone for serving their country. The all-volunteer military should not be just poor and middle class kids carrying the load for people who don’t want to serve and do their duty. I understand it’s not a job, but the federal re-employment law should telll us something.

It’s a little more than public service. I agree the person called to active duty should not have the ability to appoint a successor, and that’s precisely where the debate should be; the proper way to appoint a temporary fill in, not that we should have one.