Some weeks ago, I received word from a state senator that North Dakota Senate Majority Leader, Rich Wardner, is not a fan of the Bastiat Caucus. This caused me to inquire from some other legislators whether they had heard similar things. They confirmed that they had.
For those who aren’t aware, the Bastiat Caucus was started by Rep. Rick Becker (R – Bismarck) and is described by it’s own web site as:
“…an unofficial, voluntary association of legislators within the North Dakota State House and Senate. Formed during the 2013 Legislative Session, the Caucus provides a forum to discuss the enduring principles of limited, constitutional government, especially as they relate to current legislation and budgets as they are proposed within the North Dakota Legislature.”
Rob Port of the SayAnything Blog recently wrote that he had heard the same rumblings from lawmakers. Apparently criticism exists among some of the Old Guard Republicans towards the younger and more “freshman” legislators that are a bit more outspoken than other House members.
What I cannot understand is why the alleged criticism of the new legislators even exists? After all, they are elected in the same manner as those doing the complaining. Are the younger legislators not there to represent their constituents as well? And if so, why should they be limited by some arbitrary unwritten rule about the number of bills a legislator can sponsor and co-sponsor? Or for how long or often they address the House in floor debates?
Perhaps these Old Guard legislators just feel a tad threatened. After all, the Bastiat Caucus has grown significantly as turnover in the Capitol is fairly high the last two bienniums. If current trends continue, they may well be the majority in the House within a couple more legislative sessions. And if that’s the case, then perhaps these Old Guard legislators should be embracing their inner Bastiat, not fighting against it.