To the Editor:

I have been thinking about state Sen. Stacy Campfield's "opt in" proposal for the use of student fees and have concluded that he has an idea that has broader applicability. Therefore, I suggest that the legislature pass a bill requiring all voters in Tennessee to "opt in" to the payment of the salaries and per diem expenses of their state representatives and senators. The compensation of each legislator would be based on the fraction of voters in his or her district who opt in. For example, if only 50 percent of the people in Campfield's district were to opt in, he would receive only 50 percent of the compensation set by the legislature.

We could even go further and ask a nonpartisan organization to poll the voters in every district about every piece of legislation introduced. The legislators would be required to cast their votes based on those polls. The votes would be fractional. If, say, only 50 percent of the people in Campfield's district favored his opt in proposal, he would be required to cast half a vote in favor and half against.

Come to think of it, with this system, we wouldn't need the legislators at all. Although that might improve Tennessee state government, we would have to look elsewhere for comedy.

Jeffrey Kovac is a professor of chemistry and the director of College Scholars. He can be reached at