The General Assembly is spending a lot of time this session on issues ranging from gay marriage to business taxes to school initiatives - but our representatives and senators are still addressing a handful of issues that are taking up more time that they deserve.

These bills take away from the time to discuss major initiatives, which legislators especially need in this year's short session.

There are many examples to choose from:

• A proposal to ban programs under which some cities pay residents to turn in weapons that are later destroyed. Gun buybacks might be one small way to combat crime - more symbolic than substantive - but it's not appropriate for the state to engage in this level of micromanaging.

• A proposal to keep those under 18 out of tanning beds. Is this the most serious health problem the state should address? Sunlight causes skin cancer, too. How about a bill requiring teens to stay indoors during summer?

• A proposal to require schools to teach cursive writing. What's next - telling schools what to cut to make room for cursive writing?

The state is attempting to make decisions that other jurisdictions should be making. Let school districts decide what to teach, cities decide whether to have gun buybacks, boards of health rule on tanning. It's not about whether these are good or bad ideas, but about which officials have the best knowledge on which to act.

The first question for any legislative proposal is, "Should we really be doing this?" Too often, legislators skip over that question.