It’s not that I want to reduce the complexities of a series of Washington legislative sessions that lasted 153 days. It’s just that I’m obligated to do so by the unwritten law of oversimplification.
The War on Cars – Was Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn setting transportation policy for the Majority Coalition Caucus in the state Senate? Why else would the caucus stand in the way of a 101/2-cent gas tax to raise billions of dollars to pour miles of new concrete throughout the state? Traffic is likely to get so bad folks might actually think about taking the bus just when there are fewer buses to take.
Peace in Our Time – Forget the Arabs and Israelis. Give up on GOP Sens. Don Benton and Ann Rivers. Gay couples and that florist in Richland? Not a chance. But thanks to the thoughtful work of our legislators, there is a glimmer of hope for peace between livestock and mammalian apex predators. Washington State University is getting $600,000 to search for nonlethal means of ending the ongoing conflict between cows and wolves.
Freedom to Dance Tax-free – Certainly the political momentum toward closing tax loopholes emanates from Seattle. Closing all those corporate tax breaks could fund education and social services, liberal lawmakers argue. But all that fairness shouldn’t get in the way of a night out, so they exempted dance club cover charges from the sales tax.
Loopholes – And how did that War on Loopholes work out? After spending much of the last several sessions lamenting that tax breaks, like diamonds, are forever, Democrats took aim at a handful to boost funding for public education. Thanks to the coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats who controlled the Senate, though, none was eliminated while 16 new ones were created. And what proved loophole-worthy? Special tax treatment for adding fancy interiors to corporate jets and the sale of clay pigeons for shooting ranges.
Nothing – That’s right. Nothing was one of the biggest winners of the 2013 sessions of the state Legislature. With Republicans essentially running the Senate and Democrats in charge of the House, both sides had a veto over the agenda of the other side. In the end, nothing happened, illustrating the popular axiom, “Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There.”
Tim Eyman – Each session, the man who files initiatives for a living usually has his pick of topics that will get voters ready to write checks. Taxes are always good. And despite pledges in the past by ruling Democrats that they won’t raise them, they often do. But this year, mostly because of the restraint imposed by the Senate majority, they didn’t, and Eyman was forced to grade the Legislature A-minus. That leaves him with an initiative about initiatives.
Transparency – Gov. Jay Inslee and leaders of the Legislature said they would not negotiate in public and pledged confidentiality to one another. Then, when they finally reached a budget deal, they said they couldn’t tell the public about it until they briefed their members. Then they passed it and went home, leaving us all to wonder what they did with our money. Transparency? If it’s so important, you should have had enough sense to run for governor or the Legislature.
Swedes – Swedish immigrants helped make this state what it is today with their hard work and intellect. Like, ever hear of some folks named Nordstrom? So what do we do to thank them? Appropriate a ton of dough to help eradicate Noxious Swedes. And do any of us expect they’re really gonna stop at just the noxious ones?
Brinkmanship – It doesn’t work. Period. And nothing proved that more clearly than our Legislature’s ability to finish the budget and have it signed into law a full eight hours before state government would have been required to shut down. What was everybody all worried about?
Gamblers – According to Sen. Tim Sheldon – one of two Democrats who joined with Republicans to take over the Senate – the “Olympia crowd” was taking bets on what day the Majority Coalition Caucus would fold. It didn’t. Looks like the Olympia crowd would have been better off taking Day 153 in the Sine Die Pool.Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657