OLYMPIA — With the 2013 regular session of the Legislature finishing without finishing, there are plenty of questions about what happened, what didn’t happen and how the Senate found time to commemorate National Day of the Cowboy and to honor Margaret Thatcher.
Today we try to answer those questions, though we’re not sure there is an answer to the Thatcher and cowboy thing.
Q: I don’t think I’m alone in being totally confused by the Legislature. First Democrats win the Senate in the election, but then the Republicans control the place when it convenes. And now Senate Republicans are singing the praises of former Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire. What next, dogs and cats living together? Mass hysteria?
A: I wish I could help here, but I’m just as confused as you. This is the same Republican Party that still has “ReVote” stickers on cars and includes legislators who walked out on Gregoire’s first inaugural address. Now the Republicans have morphed into an ’80s sitcom called “GOPy Loves Chrissie.”
Q: There must be an explanation. I mean, it couldn’t be … politics?
A: In the Legislative Building? In the waning days of one of the most political sessions in memory? Naaaa * * * . They must have just come to the conclusion, now that she’s gone, how wonderful she truly was. That, or the fact that she’s not Jay Inslee.
Q: So you’re saying this might have been a backhanded slap at the current governor?
A: Perhaps the Republicans were making the point that Inslee should be brokering a deal that could solve the budget impasse and bring the session to a conclusion.
Q: What do they think he should do?
A: According to the Senate Republicans, he should bring all sides together, find out what they really need in the end result, search for common ground … and then tell House Democrats to surrender on the budget and all remaining issues.
Q: That’s what Gregoire would have done?
Q: So why do they think she would have made a difference this year?
A: Ahhhh, nothing. I’ve got nothing.
Q: How is Inlsee taking the insult?
A: Inslee says he is doing what he can to bring warring factions together in hopes they could finish on time. But last week he let slip that it might make sense to give lawmakers more time to study complex issues like drunken driving and education reform and for the governor to work on his metaphors.
Q: Is that a problem?
A: Last week he worked inside-straight, full plates, spaghetti, Einstein, post-game analysis, autopsies and constellations of stars into a single press conference. Impressive, but Gregoire would have used twice as many in less time.
Q: There you go with the Gregoire comparisons. Is Inslee starting to feel inferior?
A: Absolutely not. After the GOP press conference last week, Inslee’s spokesman bragged that the new governor has done in just three months what his predecessor couldn’t accomplish in eight years.
Q: OK, I’ll bite. What is that?
A: He managed to get the Republicans to like Gregoire.
Q: So special session here we come. Voters should be outraged. The politicians don’t get their work done on time and now all sorts of extra expenses are going to be incurred.
A: Absolutely. Think of all the extra lunches, dinners and drinks the lobbyists are going to have to pay for. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.
Q: I kinda meant tax dollars.
A: Special sessions don’t cost the state that much extra. The only real expense is some printing and the daily per diem for lawmakers. When they’re spending $16 billion a year, that’s budget dust.
Q: I remember last year that some lawmakers refused their per diems during special session to score political points with voters. Will that happen again?
A: Yes, which only adds to the burden on the lobbyists.
Q: Feeling sorry for lobbyists? No thanks. So when will they finish?
A: No later than the fourth Saturday in July.
Q: Is that the deadline contained in the state constitution?
A: No, it’s National Day of the Cowboy. Yeehaw.