Paul Jacob

A judge halted enforcement of the new law, ending the immediate threat to many employers, so Governor Mark Warner and legislators hoped against hope that all the attention to their big goof would die down. "His preference would be that we resolve this without the cost and disruption of a session," said a spokeswoman for the governor.

However, the problem refused to go away. Businesses were truly concerned. As Attorney General Jerry Kilgore said, "It only serves to hold the confusion and damage to Virginia's businesses in abeyance for a relatively short period of time." Businesses began putting enormous pressure on Governor Warner and the legislators to fix the problem their bone-headed legislating had caused, and for good.

The governor called legislators back to the capitol to correct their mistake in a special session. That session was over in a day and legislators are now back home. Thank goodness.

But, wait a second . . . can you imagine if this foul-up had happened in a state with legislative term limits? Oh, we would never hear the end of it. Would it have been BIG NEWS! It would have been claimed as proof positive that term limits create inexperienced legislatures totally incapable of effectively conducting the people¹s complex business, blah blah blah.

So, what does it prove now? When a legislature loaded with super-incumbents who have served for decades commits this serious an error? It sure proves that experience as a politician is not the end-all and be-all.

I'll bet you're wondering: How did Virginians even come to discover this legislative blunder?

The legislation had been reviewed by lawyers galore: legislative lawyers, administration lawyers, and the attorney general's office. These experienced attorneys, with special experience in such legislative matters, all completely missed the impact this legislation would have on real-world employers.

But one day Buddy Omohundro, an attorney for a private firm, and only a few years out of law school, was asked a fairly routine question by a client about the law covering weekend time off for employees. Omohundro read the law (always a good start, although so often overlooked by our state and federal legislators) and he caught the problem.

Virginia's abundantly "experienced" legislature is yet one more good argument for term limits. If these are the experienced professional legislators, bring on the amateurs.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.