Texas legislator wants to outlaw multi-tasking

When it comes to absurd regulations restricting perceived distractions, federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood may garner the most attention; but he certainly cannot claim a monopoly on really bad proposals.

Texas State Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) is sponsoring a bill that would prevent legislators from sending text messages, e-mails or any other form of electronic communication during a public meeting.

According to the Austin American Statesman, Hunter has concluded, “[I]t’s discourteous if you’re conducting business on a cellular phone or BlackBerry when somebody’s coming in to testify. You need to be focused on those people.” Hunter believes lawmakers should not be “communicating in a public setting with private interests, telling you how to vote, telling you how to think, telling you how to speak without that being open access to the public.”

There may well be abuse of electronic devices by elected officials during public meetings or in private; but it goes on in nearly every city council, county commission and state legislature in the country. However, we are dealing here with lawmakers who constantly are called on to perform constituent services, work on often complex legislative priorities, and who deal with myriad other issues that arise during any given day.

These requirements of their job may at times require them to divert their attention from committee hearings, which can often be mundane, even insufferable. Being able to catch up on some work on a laptop or Blackberry during an unusually boring or lengthy hearing can be a God send; certainly I found this to be the case during my years in the House of Representatives.  Were Mr. Hunter in the U.S. House at the same time I was, he apparently would have tried to ban my congressional multi-tasking.

What’s next, charging a legislator with a criminal offense if he or she fails to devote their full attention to a witness appearing before a legislative committee; or being arrested if they talk to someone or write a note during an “official” hearing?  Rep. Hunter perhaps soon will sponsor legislation requiring that notes written during a hearing be read aloud by the chairman, much like a grade school teacher dealing with an inattentive student.

Rep. Hunter may not be aware of it, but there actually are legislators who are able to “chew gum and walk” at the same time.  Perhaps the Texas legislator is incapable of doing so, and maybe his jealously of those who are able to multi-task has led him to propose his absurd piece of legislation.

It also appears this particular elected official has way too much time on his hands; something always dangerous for government officials.

-by Bob Barr, The Barr code

16 comments Add your comment


April 1st, 2011
7:23 am

“Multitasking” is a euphemism for “simultaneously doing more than one thing poorly.”

Kaiser Soze

April 1st, 2011
8:21 am

A bit of science may help here: The human brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Try it. Try to think of the Gettyburg Address and try to recite the famous poem, “Birdy, birdy, in the sky. Why’d you do that in my eye? I din’t laugh I din’t cry. Gee, I’m thankful cows don’t fly.”

Go ‘head. I dare you. Know what?

U can’t.


Blog Soup

April 1st, 2011
8:44 am

Over at Bookman’s Blog, (the absolute emblematic steroptype of a holding pattern for aeronautical stool samples), the topic is the China Syndrome, where a nucuRar power pRant melts down and burns itself all the way through the middle of the earth to China.)

Of course the idea is idiotic, but that doesn’t stop the poster child for a nowhere man who surrounded himself with yes men. Nothing is beyond his grasp of the idiotic.

Over at Cynthia Tucker’s, she is still wrestling with style and phrasing. Her rhythm is off. It’s like she wants the reader to go into anaphylactic shock, (or something.)

Lucko was okay. A few cartoons ago, His Donald Trump presidential-credentials-being-questioned cartoon was GOLD!!!


April 1st, 2011
9:20 am

So, Bob, do you think then that the judge should let me use my blackberry while on jury duty?

Al Osmann

April 1st, 2011
10:00 am

But this is Texas you are talking about, long line of loonies and lunatic politics. How about this from Gohmert, ‘Terror Babies’ Gohmert: Libya Goal Is To “Deplete The Military” So Obama Can Call Up Private Army’.


April 1st, 2011
10:21 am

Bob … Thanks for explaining why you were an ineffective elected representative. We were all wondering. I guess you texted in your vote too…PRESENT.


April 1st, 2011
11:16 am

Using a blackberry while purportedly in a meeting is discourteous and distracting not only to the “user” but to those around him. Why doesn’t a person who isn’t involved in a meeting just honest enough to get up and leave and do whatever he is doing fully? I see people in legal CLE classes all the time, looking at photos, sending emails and the like, while earning “credits” for learning something. They aren’t learning. They are cheating.


April 1st, 2011
12:18 pm

Kaiser Soze

Since you can’t do it either, don’t forget to include yourself in the “morons” category.


April 1st, 2011
12:19 pm

Banning texting while driving is a good idea. Banning it in a public meeting is Big Brother.

Hillbilly Deluxe

April 1st, 2011
12:33 pm

Texas State Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) is sponsoring a bill that would prevent legislators from sending text messages, e-mails or any other form of electronic communication during a public meeting.

I probably wouldn’t raise it to the level of passing a law but Legislators doing things like that in a public meeting is just plain rude. One the bright side though, it does show the people at the meeting, just how little regard their elected official has in them and listening to their views.


April 1st, 2011
4:49 pm

Social problems require social solutions. Someone need a butt whoppin’ if they ain’t paying attention.

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April 1st, 2011
10:04 pm

Everybody’s talking at me, can’t hear a word they’re saying, only the shadows of my blackberry.

Kaiser Soze

April 2nd, 2011
7:54 am


April 3rd, 2011
9:09 am

I don’t think this is such a bad idea. As a society, we’re moving too fast through the day. Our attention span is lower than our ancestors, and we often don’t know how to prioritize. So I second the motion, and would like to see anti-multitasking extended into everyday life. Let’s stop and smell the roses. Bring back the 1970s before computers and all this tech. crud.

Erin Williamson

April 4th, 2011
9:00 pm

Engaging and well written article! This tops anything I have read lately on the subject at hand. I wonder if this’ll be posted on Twenty-First Tycoon. Although the site has awesome political, business, technology and real estate news, they could use more stuff like this. http://www.21Tycoon.com