BOUNTIFUL — When it comes to government, patience and tears are stronger than facts.
That’s one of the biggest lessons learned by Rep. Jim Nielson, R-19, during his first term as a state legislator.
Nielson spoke recently to the Bountiful Rotary about what it takes to get a bill passed and why it’s hard to make big changes in government.
“Our government is designed for incremental changes,” said Nielson, who is running for re-election this fall against Lynn Anderson, a democrat. “Every bill goes through a process that makes it so much better than anything I would come up with on my own.”
That process, and the way it inspires legislators to work together, helped Nielson with a bill that proposed a 90-day waiting period for couples with children who were looking to divorce. Though the waiting period was in place for couples without kids, it wasn’t for couples with kids.
When Nielson presented his bill, it was shot down by an opposing legislator’s impassioned story of the benefit speed had in his own divorce.
When another legislator proposed a similar 90-day waiting period in his own bill, Nielson was ready with equally emotional stories from children whose families stayed together due to a waiting period. The second bill passed.
“Emotion always carries the day,” he said.
Still, the slowness can be a challenge. Nielson decided to tackle some big topics during his first legislative session, including the distribution of sales tax. He’s still working on that bill now, and admits that he didn’t get a single one of his bills passed that first session.
“It was interesting to see how difficult it can be to try and get to the substance of things,” he said.
For more information check out the Sept.27 edition of Davis Clipper.