Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dance of the legislative committees

At its best, perfecting of legislation in committee is a careful dance of delicate moves. When matters are deeply important to people, the role of committee is to listen, not only to the words, but to the intentions and the feelings. It's hard not to get caught up in those feelings, especially when you, yourself, feel deeply about the issues.

It is especially difficult to stay focused on the text of the legislation while hearings and discussion are going on. Sometimes, the words in the proposed legislation doesn't seem to bear much resemblance to the real issues underlying it. Then the choice becomes whether to work with the text as it is--to amend it in order to send it to the Convention--or perhaps to craft a substitute resolution that will reach the intent of its proposers more accurately.

But sometimes, the legislative committee has to face the question of whether it is in a position to work on the legislation at all. I've been wondering that at various points on the Communications committee. With some of our proposed legislation, I have wondered where our role as a legislative committee should end.

The legislative committees are well-stocked with members who are acquainted with the subject matter and who have wisdom to contribute. We have to remind ourselves continually, though, to keep our own knowledge and feelings distinct from our role as legislative wordsmiths. When we do it right, we are able to present legislation that is clear to the Convention, and that will reach the best outcomes for the Church.

But it's hard, like I said. Pray for us that we dance well with one another, and that we not step on one another's toes.

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