NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Washington State Legislature adjourns 2016 session Sine Die; special session needed

Not long ago, the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture adjourned its 2016 reg­u­lar ses­sion Sine Die, fol­low­ing the adop­tion of HCR 4417 by the House and Sen­ate.

Though the reg­u­lar ses­sion is now offi­cial­ly over, law­mak­ers can­not head home just yet, as their work is unfin­ished (sur­prise, sur­prise). Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee plans to call a spe­cial ses­sion of the Leg­is­la­ture so that sup­ple­men­tal bud­gets can be com­plet­ed, but he says he wants an agree­ment drawn up tonight — and he’s pre­pared to start veto­ing bills if leg­isla­tive lead­er­ship can’t get some­thing worked out.

Inslee will take action on a num­ber of bills tonight at 10 PM, his office announced. There will be no pub­lic bill sign­ing cer­e­mo­ny. Around 10:30 PM, the gov­er­nor will hold a media avail­abil­i­ty and will dis­close details regard­ing the spe­cial ses­sion that he plans to call. Spe­cial ses­sions can last for up to thir­ty days, but it’s unlike­ly mem­bers of the House and Sen­ate will want to burn up the clock in an elec­tion year.

“It’s leg­is­la­tors’ job to pass a bud­get, yet Repub­li­cans in Olympia seem to think they work in Wash­ing­ton D.C., not Wash­ing­ton State,” said Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty Chair Jax­on Ravens. “They have been more focused on hyper-polit­i­cal attacks on the Gov­er­nor rather than doing their job.”

“Per­haps if they did­n’t waste their time on polit­i­cal stunts like fir­ing Lynn Peter­son or spend­ing pre­cious floor time for a bill to dis­crim­i­nate against the trans­gen­der com­mu­ni­ty, we could’ve got­ten a bud­get done on time.”

The bang­ing of the gavels was pre­ced­ed by sev­er­al retire­ment announce­ments.

Long­time Sen­a­tors Mike Hewitt and Jim Har­grove announced today that they will not be seek­ing reelec­tion lat­er this year, which means some reshuf­fling is about to hap­pen. (Hewitt rep­re­sents a dis­trict that usu­al­ly elects Repub­li­cans to the Leg­is­la­ture; Har­grove rep­re­sents a dis­trict that usu­al­ly elects Democ­rats.)

Also not seek­ing reelec­tion are Sen­a­tors Karen Fras­er (D), Bruce Dammeier ®, and Don Ben­ton ®. Fras­er and Dammeier have opt­ed to seek high­er office rather than run for new terms in the Sen­ate. Fras­er is one of four Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors run­ning to replace Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Brad Owen (also retir­ing), while Dammeier wants to become the next Pierce Coun­ty Exec­u­tive, suc­ceed­ing Demo­c­rat Pat McCarthy.

The Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion stip­u­lates that in even-num­bered years, reg­u­lar ses­sions shall not be of a dura­tion longer than six­ty days, which is why leg­isla­tive lead­ers need Inslee to buy them more time by call­ing a spe­cial ses­sion.

Though leg­is­la­tors were able to agree on rais­es for the State Patrol and oth­er minor improve­ments to pub­lic ser­vices, they did not take any mean­ing­ful steps to address Wash­ing­ton’s chron­ic school fund­ing cri­sis. Instead, the Leg­is­la­ture passed a sym­bol­ic bill which com­mit­ted the next Leg­is­la­ture to work on the prob­lem.

If we had to grade the Leg­is­la­ture on this year’s ses­sion, we’d have to stamp an F at the top of the report card. Our pub­lic schools bad­ly need more fund­ing, and the Leg­is­la­ture has refused to take any mean­ing­ful steps towards mak­ing that hap­pen, despite being sanc­tioned by the Supreme Court.

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