Thank you, Randy Wood.
Given the current race to the bottom that is occurring within the Republican primary for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat, and given the various pandering bills that have been prefiled and those that are still to come, I was starting to wonder if there was a single GOP lawmaker left in this state who might be the slightest bit concerned with participating in a government that actually helps regular people.
Wood, R-Anniston, has restored my faith that there is at least one.
While his colleagues are filing bills to let everyone have a gun all the time everywhere or trying to force school principals to play the National Anthem every day or probably figuring out some way to make public assistance recipients run laps, Wood filed a bill that could do some good.
Actually, let me rephrase: It could prevent absolute heartbreak.
Wood’s bill would require daycares to call parents or guardians if a child enrolled at that daycare hasn’t arrived by 9:30 and no previous notification of an absence was given.
The bill’s goal is to prevent children from dying from being left in hot cars by frazzled parents who simply forget that their young one is in the backseat. It is dubbed the Cash Edwin Jordan Act, named for the 11-month-old who died last year.
That might seem like an unimaginable thing — a parent simply forgetting a child is in the backseat.
Unfortunately, it is not.
Every year, it happens several times across the country. There are heartbreaking tales of parents, after long days at work, returning to their cars to discover what they’ve done.
Most often, it’s a change in routine that causes it.
Mom has an appointment and can’t make the usual drop-off, so dad is taking the little one to daycare on the way to work. The everyday routine is the same, except for that change. The car seat is facing to the rear, just as it every day. The baby is asleep in the back, not making a sound. It’s early, the day’s work tasks are running through the sleep-deprived brain.
And the car just drives itself right to work. Like always.
If Wood’s bill passes, now, instead of a parent getting to their car in the evening — or their spouse getting to the daycare only to find out the baby was never dropped off — there will be a phone call from the daycare to the parents.
Just to make sure. Just to avoid a tragedy.
This is how government is supposed to work — finding a reasonable solution to a devastating problem. No frills, no pandering. No press releases or campaign statements.
Just a guy who spotted a problem, discussed it with a few people and came up with a reasonable solution.
Why is this so hard?
Actually, the better question is probably: Why is it so hard for us to elect people who do this? Who simply go to Montgomery, do the will of the people, introduce and vote for legislation that isn’t flashy but serves the people?
Now, I’m not saying that Wood is that person. Looking back through his long history in the House, he’s backed some really dumb bills and toed the party line on other bills that he likely knew were unconstitutional or just plain stupid.
But Wood — and all the rest of them — could be that sort of service-only lawmaker … if the voters demanded it.
If the majority of this state rewarded lawmakers more for bills like the Cash Edwin Jordan Act and less for pandering absurdities like the toughest abortion bill or the toughest immigration bill or the dumbest gun bills. If we rewarded them for balancing the budget, properly funding public education, fixing the broken health care system and addressing the actual needs and issues facing real people in Alabama.
Wouldn’t it be nice?
Just imagine an entire legislative session in which grown people acted like grown people — in which they didn’t make up things to be outraged over or to get voters outraged over. They could get business handled in a couple of weeks.
But I know that’s all a dream. I know this rare glimpse into how our government could operate is a fleeting moment of sanity in what will ultimately become the usual clown show.
But it’s nice to dream.