Whoa, whoa, whoa... Apparently in West Virginia, being a State Senator is a part time job. Which means that a State Senator likely has to work a normal, private-sector job. A job for a company that might have a strong opinion about a particular vote. A company that then might fire the State Senator after they voted in a way the company didn't like... Uh... Conflict of interest much?

What do you think? Is this system broken? How would you fix this?
7
LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Dustin Saunders
Key word being "West Virginia"?  :P

I guess at the end of the day being a law maker (or politician) is by volunteer only, so you are subject to any consequences at your own behest.  And, I'm sure he was at-will with Frontier, and they could make that firing decision if they chose to.

I agree it does come down to creating possible conflicts-- but it looks like even though he recused himself from the debate he voted for the bill.  But maybe you're hinting at what needs to be done, pony up and pay a reasonable wage so that law makers can divest themselves and represent the best outcomes for their constituents.
0
LVL 56

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
It's nice to see he did the right thing!

The other end of the spectrum is Illinois.  Avg Salary $67,000 plus extras like health care, dental, stipends and mileage. The on top of that, they get a big fat pension https://www.illinoispolicy.org/reports/the-cost-of-illinois-lawmakers/

Somewhere in the middle is the answer.
0
LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Dustin Saunders
idk, $67k seems fair to me considering you're pretty much out of work for 6 months out of the year.  The problem with setting it too low, is that you create a wage disparity where people who are lower earners can't volunteer to be lawmakers because they can't support themselves-- meaning the representation is able to be skewed in favor of those who 'can afford it'.
0
LVL 67

Expert Comment

by:Jim Horn
At that salary states are asking for that type of behavior.  

Minnesota state reps get only $31k per year, and if it were any other position you'd never attract anyone competent enough at that salary unless they already have a large source of income and can afford to work a lower paying job, which means 98% of the labor market couldn't do it.    The remaining 2%ers are either trust fund babies or CXO's and lawyers that have an income stream and can be a politician for a couple of years knowing that that experience will mean a much higher paycheck in the private sector once they're done.

I really have no issues with state reps making $100k or higher.
0
LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Dustin Saunders
Oh yeah, you're over in EP right?  

I believe MN State reps just got a 45% raise to $45k-- though I remember hearing that they (the lawmakers themselves) were trying to fight that increase.
0
LVL 67

Expert Comment

by:Jim Horn
Try living anywhere near the Cities on 30 or 45k a year.  Guessing that would be a studio apartment an hour's drive away.
1
LVL 7

Author Comment

by:Brian Matis
I had never even imagined that being a State Senator would be a part-time job. But after thinking about it for a moment, I did see some of the appeal in terms of helping politicians be more in touch with the people--since it's a common critique that politicians are totally out of touch.

Maybe politicians should be paid the median salary for whatever their jurisdiction is?
0

Expert Comment

by:Daniella Barion
I would say like everything in life this can be good and bad. In this case, there 's a conflict of interest between the company and what would be better for the people. I am glad he looked for the community and not for a private interest ( the company and his) But, would all others senator if were in a similar position do the same? I have my doughts.
1
LVL 56

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
I don't have a problem with being in the $65 to $100K range. I do have a problem with paying a pension.  How many businesses have that anymore?  It's a lot for the tax payers to be on the hook for that kind of money (In Illinois).
0
LVL 67

Expert Comment

by:Jim Horn
There's very few employers that would allow someone to be gone for six months of the year and only work half time the other six months, which is the normal time demands of a Minnesota state legislator, so I’m having a hard time imagining what these part-time legislators would do for a career.     When I was in the Army National Guard employers didn't even care for me being gone one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

At those salaries I'm surprised we don't hear more stories about bribery, corruption, and employer conflict of interest.

As a side note when Jesse 'The Body' Ventura was governor he frequently refereed pro wrestling matches.  No conflict of interest there as I don't think it would affect the state if 'Bruno the Midnight Stalker' or 'The Bushwackers' won.   I still think it would have been great if he hired Axe and Slash as his state budget directors.
1
LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:tliotta
I've mostly assumed that most (or all?) states had 'part time' legislators. It's both expensive and very disruptive to live in a legislative district, yet spend perhaps half of the year in the capital. 'Expensive' isn't truly meaningful, since per diem amounts are usually (always?) supplied. Still, splittling life between two places has costs.

Any regular "job" almost necessarily must be given up. Any business might be at least partly abandoned for a couple years or more -- even when not in session back "home", legislative attention must be given to citizens.

In the OP case, I'd be very suspicious of someone at or near a 'C'-level executive position who kept that position upon election. There'd be practically no way to give necessary attention to corporate matters and also to legislative responsibilities and obligations unless the corporate board had its own agenda for having its personal legislator..
1

Keep in touch with Experts Exchange

Tech news and trends delivered to your inbox every month