Not all lobbyists tell the truth

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2003

&uot;The Ability to Lie is a Liability.&uot;

I saw this saying on a church sign this past Friday, and it reminded me of how some people in politics DO NOT feel about their actions.

A lobbying group representing the nursing home industry sent out a flier this past week stating that I had opposed a bill offered in the Legislature which would give nursing home owners a financial advantage they do not presently enjoy.

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The statement is a lie.

But the worse thing about it is not that the statement is a lie but they, the lobbyists and nursing home owners, do not care whether it states truth or not.

There seems to be a philosophy among many lobbyists that all is fair in love, war and politics.

Lying is just like another day at the office.

Action and conduct by lobbyists like this do not represent the majority of lobbyists but they certainly can damage the reputation of those who make a living trying to enlighten and influence the Legislature.

There are many capable and outstanding lobbyists who work around the Legislature and they serve a real purpose.

Legislators cannot be informed on every subject and on every bill.

The lobbyists are specializing in specifics areas and when their bill or their subject is being considered it is most helpful to get the insight of the lobbyists.

Good lobbyists give you both sides of the issue and they tell you the truth.

Unfortunately there are some who completely slant the information or outright tell you untruths.

These are the lobbyists not to be trusted and when you have been around as long as I have you know who they are.

With respect to the nursing home bills, they were introduced in both the regular session and the special session.

They were sent to various Senate committees, none of which I serve on.

Therefore, I have never had an opportunity to vote on these bills in committee.

Some of the nursing home bills received a favorable report in committee and were then sent to the Senate calendar where they can be considered if the Senate Rules Committee puts them on what we call a special order calendar.

I am not on the Senate Rules Committee, so I had no opportunity to vote for or against these bills at that stage.

The nursing home bills have not been up in the State Senate for a vote by the general membership so I have not had a chance to vote on them there.

So you can see that any allegation that I have opposed these bills is false.

The nursing home industry is taking a big hit on higher insurance premiums and that is unfortunate.

Something needs to be done to help keep down insurance costs if the interests of the patients in the nursing homes are not compromised.

It is not like the nursing home owners are the only ones whose insurance has gone up.

It seems to me that every where you turn there are huge increases in premiums being imposed by the insurance companies.

And everybody wants to blame someone or something for this happening.

The nursing home owners want to blame the trial lawyers for their large increase in premiums.

What about the claims for negligence against nursing home operators or what about justifiable wrongful death actions against nursing homes?

Are the parents or the children or loved ones of those patients who were abused, or worse, by nursing homes supposed to just let such things go by without seeking some kind of redress?

Even though I am not on the committees considering these bills I did attend the public hearings when the bills were being considered, and I can tell you that there is enough wrong to place some blame on almost everyone or every entity involved.

Some insurance companies are over charging, some nursing homes are run poorly while others do a good job, some lawyers bring frivolous law suits while most attorneys act responsibly, and some nursing home owners have made super rich profits in the past while some are now threatened with closure because of high costs.

It is a combination of all of these things that has led to where we are today.

None of these facts justify making false allegations against me or any other legislator.

My father used to tell me that &uot;it is never right to do wrong and it is never wrong to do right.&uot;

The nursing home lobbyists need to learn this lesson.

Until next week, remember &uot;I'll go with you or I'll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing to P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049.