The Amarillo Chamber of Commerce has this event every legislative session. It’s called Panhandle Day. Business and civic leaders go to Austin to give our legislators and state officials an idea of what they want accomplished during that year’s legislative assembly.
They visit, slap a few backs, schmooze with each other and our legislators, make their case — and then come home. Meanwhile, our lawmakers go about the business of legislating. Sometimes they follow through on what they pledge to do for us in the Panhandle. Sometimes they don’t. After all, they are barraged hourly by lobbyists from all across the state, each of whom represents the “most important issue in the history of Texas.”
But here’s a thought. Why not issue a report card at the end of the session? The chamber has a legislative committee. Its members could rank the most important issues facing the Panhandle. Then it could determine at the end of the session whether our lawmakers fufilled their promise to be champions for our region, issue by issue.
Did Rep. John Smithee do enough to reform insurance policy in Texas? Did Sen. Kel Seliger fight sufficiently for property-owners’ rights? Did Rep. David Swinford make sufficient headway in developing wind energy, which has become one of his pet issues? Grade these guys A through F.
It builds in another layer of accountability and gives the rest of us a chance to gauge one group’s assessment of how well our legislators are representing our interests.