State pols are just killing time and trying to look busy in Olympia these days, waiting for the inescapable second special session to start in June. We’ll call it the extra-special session, served with Sriracha sauce to give ’em a kick in the pants down there.
Oh, sure, it might seem like the electoids are doing real work during the month of May, such as negotiating in backrooms over school funding and drawing up impeachment papers for Auditor Troy “The Phantom Menace” Kelley.
But we’d put money on them not wrapping up before the summer solstice.
So would they, apparently. Why else would they have their staff do a spreadsheet analysis of South Sound hotel rates in mid- to late June?
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Face it, they’re planning to stick around at least long enough to cash in on their VIP tickets for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
At this rate, we’re just praying they go home before the winter solstice. By then, their 11-percent pay raises will start to kick in.
Let there be pens! There’s no more obvious sign of the Capitol doldrums than the parade of ballpoint pen giveaways in the governor’s office these past few weeks.
Bill signings are a diversion. A bit of bureaucratic stagecraft set to the faint drumbeat of accomplishments from the 105-day regular session. A chance for the chief executive to act excited about cutting-edge new laws, such as allowing lunch breaks for tow-truck operators and creating an electronic reporting system for livestock sales.
In the end, the signature doesn’t even matter. A bill becomes a law 20 days after the Legislature passes it, regardless of whether Gov. Jay Inslee puts his John Hancock on it. (Unless he vetoes it.)
But lobbyists, legislators and regular folks like to bask in the glow of gubernatorial charisma. They want a new pen and a picture to hang on their wall. So the script goes like this:
Fawning admirers surround governor at desk. Governor gives dramatic reading from bill, administers real signature. ( Click go the cameras.) Governor looks up at photographer, tells everyone to smile, poses for fake signature. ( Click go the cameras again.)
Hands are shaken, pleasantries exchanged. Fawning admirers receive lovely parting gifts (did we mention the pens?), and exit stage left.
And so it goes, five, 10 or 20 bills in a row, with the efficiency of a Boeing assembly line and the ceremony of a Daffodil Festival coronation.
If we’re lucky, we might get a clumsy joke, a couple of cute kids, some props or costumes, or the spontaneous singing of a college fight song.
If we’re really lucky, like we were this week, we might get a 1-year-old Schnauzer-Yorkshire terrier named Waffles.
Take my wife, please: Inslee rarely misses an opportunity for a laugh line.
While signing a bill that would help the state’s floral products industry, supporters placed two vases of flowers on his desk. “I want to thank this group that has made the governor never smell better,” he quipped.
And then — “This industry is keeping a lot of husbands in a better position.”
Nor does he miss a chance to flatter small children. While signing a bill that would require financial literacy to help public school students succeed, he said to two girls standing next to his desk: “With faces like this, you could succeed one way or another.”
But he did miss a chance to join in the Washington State University fight song while signing a bill establishing a Wazzu Medical School. State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Cougarland, started clapping and belting out the song. A few others sang along.
Not Inslee. He may be the boss of the whole state, but he evidently sings only for his purple-and-gold alma mater.
Dog day afternoon: And then there was this week’s visit by Waffles the dog. She was the cuddly showstopper while Inslee signed Senate Bill 5501. It will impose a $125 fine on anyone who confines an unattended animal in a very hot or cold car or in other dangerous conditions.
At first, The Nose was deeply moved. We assumed Waffles was the heroic survivor of such an incident. Turns out she’s the pampered pet of Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, who must not have enough glamour shots of his pooch already.
This dog isn’t the victim of animal cruelty at all.
Except for Monday’s bill signing.
For that alone, she deserves a commemorative pen to chew on.
Bill Gates at the Tacoma Dome: It wasn’t a monster truck rally, but it was the next best thing. In a recent interview with the Seattle Times, Melinda Gates opened up with details about billionaire-philanthropist domestic life, including the couple’s attendance with their three children at last year’s Katy Perry concert.
Frankly, it’s the last place in the world we’d expect Mr. Microsoft to show up.
And we don’t mean a Katy Perry concert. We mean Tacoma.