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Week 5: Love Breaks Out in the General Assembly

Valentine's Day has become a really big deal in the State Capitol.  It started innocently enough with the Senate Clerk, Susan Schaar, spontaneously giving daily reminders to the Senators about how many shopping days were left until Valentine's Day and admonishing us not to forget our loved ones.

Then a woman Delegate decided to have a kissing booth outside her office to raise money for heart research.  Before you knew it, virtually every receptionist's desk became a Valentine display.  Legislators started giving each other and staff Valentines and candy.

This year the leadership floor is a dazzlingly display of red lights, pink stuffed animals, and hearts hanging from the ceiling.

Most astounding are life-sized cutouts of House and Senate leadership --Democrats and Republicans -- arranged behind a large white LOVE sign.  We are bejeweled and decked in hearts.

My views on all this have "evolved" over the years.  At first I was aghast and worried about how the public would view this frivolous display.  Most legislators really are hardworking and serious about doing the public's business.  Making ourselves look ridiculous and juvenile seemed unwise.

Now I look forward to this bipartisan display of caring for each other.  We truly do have friendships across party and regional lines.  Most of us ran for office because we have strongly felt beliefs.  Unfortunately they are often conflicting.  Tempers can flare as we fight for our own constituents and principles.  Partisanship seems on the ascent.

This outlandish Valentine tradition helps us all relax, laugh together, and realize how close our friendships can be.  What could be wrong with that? 

I hope you too have a fun Valentine's Day!