Like any other professional group or secret society, the Washington Legislature has its own terminology.
Knowing the lingo, therefore, is the first step toward breaking into the power structure. As a public service, here are some of the most-used and least-understood terms that lawmakers, staff members and lobbyists will use during the second regular session of the 62nd Legislature that convenes in Olympia Monday.
Act – What legislators do when they are surprised or outraged during floor debate.
Adopt – To formally approve bills, but please, only after they have been spayed or neutered.
Adopted and engrossed – Bills that have been approved but not yet house trained.
At Ease – What none of us are until the Legislature adjourns.
Attorney General’s Opinion – Opinions issued by the state attorney general such as, “Hey, I think I’d make a pretty good governor.”
Amendments – What lawmakers put into bills and gardeners put into soil to make them “better.”
Apportionment – Either the act of dividing the state following the Census or the act of dividing the collections following the big caucus fundraiser.
Bill – Guy who hangs around doing favors for legislative leaders.
Bill Books – What Bill does when leaders need a lunch reservation.
Bill Digest – What Bill does after lunch.
Bumping – Advancing a bill from second to third reading and final passage or, what business lobbyists do with their fists after killing bills.
Floor – Place in House and Senate where lawmakers of opposite parties argue in public.
Caucus – Place in the House and Senate where lawmakers of the same party argue in private.
Checks and Balances – Process by which the three branches of government make sure the other branches don’t get anything done.
Companion Bill – Bills introduced in the same form in the House and Senate so they won’t get lonely.
Cutoff Dates – Days during the legislative calender when lawmakers don’t have to wear long pants.
Debate – What lawmakers engage in to express themselves but change no minds.
Emergency Clause – Person who fills in when Santa is sick.
Ex Officio – Latin term for lawmakers after they lose elections.
Floor Resolutions – Abstinence pledge made by lawmakers at the end of a night out with lobbyists.
Governor – Chief executive of the state or, a device to assure that a machine does not move too fast.
Hopper – Place where lawmakers put bills for introduction. Not to be mistaken with the Hamper, where they place dirty laundry.
Joint Committee – Name given to any group of lawmakers meeting at the corner bar.
Standing Committee – Name given to those lawmakers when there are no more seats at the corner bar.
Leadership – Lawmakers designated by their caucuses to run the Legislature, whether they actually show leadership or not.
LEAP – Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program or, what lawmakers told the governor to take when she asked for quick action on the budget crisis.
Lobbyist – Advocate who represents interest groups before the Legislature.
Special interest lobbyist – What the other side has.
Public interest lobbyist – What your side has.
Reconsider – What voters wish they could do after casting ballots.
Revenue Forecast Council – Special committee of lawmakers and cabinet members who meet quarterly to overestimate tax collections.
Sunset Provision – Designated time of day when Legislature usually starts working, especially on budget and tax bills.
Sine Die – Latin term for final adjournment of session. English translation: “Oh, Thank God.”
Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657 firstname.lastname@example.org blog:thenewstribune.com/politics Twitter: @CallaghanPeter