State lawmakers in Tennessee and Georgia are certainly wasting no time wasting time and money.
Less than a month into their legislative sessions, politicians in Nashville and Atlanta have already managed to file 574 resolutions -- while making little headway in addressing actual policy concerns.
Resolutions are how state lawmakers officially honor, memorialize or recognize a person, business, charity or event. They are usually accompanied by a few minutes of hot air on the senate or house floor and a fancy copy of the resolution suitable for framing.
A few resolutions each session, like proposed state constitutional amendments, can impact policy. More often than not, however, resolutions are submitted in the hopes that the people recognized by the resolutions will vote for, or give campaign contributions to, the state lawmakers responsible for the recognition.
Wasting time on these vote-buying dog and pony shows in the legislative chambers rather than tacking real problems is bad enough. What's worse is that state taxpayers are on the hook for the cost of the staff and lawmakers' time, as well as the printing expense related to the resolutions.
In Tennessee, each resolution filed costs state taxpayers about $800, according to research performed by the state Fiscal Review Committee in 2009. That means Volunteer State taxpayers shelled out about $2.7 million to pay for the 3,415 resolutions filed during the last two-year session of the Tennessee General Assembly.
The news isn't much better in Georgia where 2,201 resolutions were filed last session.
It may be easier for taxpayers to stomach the expense of the resolutions if so many of them weren't so silly. For example, the blog Georgia Politics Unfiltered recently reported on a resolution in the Georgia Senate congratulating the University of Louisville on its 2013 Sugar Bowl victory over the University of Florida. Even though neither team was from Georgia and the game was played in New Orleans, State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, still thought it was appropriate to waste lawmakers' time and taxpayers' money on the resolution. (Louisville, not surprisingly, is Alber's alma mater.)
Georgia Politics Unfiltered points out that no resolution was filed in the Georgia State Senate to honor the University of Georgia on its win in the 2013 Capital One Bowl.
Some of the other 350 resolutions filed in the first three weeks of Georgia legislative session recognize:
• The 26th annual Wild Game Supper
• The Georgia Peach Queens
• Ann's Snack Bar
• The Cordele-Crisp County Fish Fry
• Lupus Awareness Day
• The 40th wedding anniversary of Bill and Camille Ronay
• The 176th anniversary of Bethel Baptist Church
• Thrombosis Awareness Month
Tennessee, not to be outdone, has already named a date for "Tennessee Recyclers Day," congratulated pitcher R.A. Dickey on winning the 2012 National League Cy Young Award, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the East Tennessee Technology Access Center and recognized Lin Dunn for coaching the 2012 WNBA championship-winning basketball team.
These honorable mentions can make their recipients feel appreciated, and can even win votes for the politicians who propose the resolutions, but they also impose excessive costs on state taxpayers.
Thankfully, there is an easy answer to combat state lawmakers in Georgia and Tennessee who can't seem to stop themselves from proposing thousands of self-serving resolutions each legislative session: Let them pay for the cost of the resolutions out of their own campaign accounts. That way lawmakers can continue to file as many silly, useless resolutions as they want, but state taxpayers won't have to pick up the tab.