The state Legislature explained in 140 characters


OLYMPIA — As I was walking out of the House of Representatives chamber last week, a social services lobbyist stopped me to compliment me on something I’d written.

“That was a great tweet.”

Now I know my work here is done. Forget these verbose columns of 650 words. The pinnacle has been reached with a single 140-character tweet @CallaghanPeter.

Without revealing which bit of prose (and I mean bit) got her eye, here are some recent tweets that are in contention, all dealing with the special session of the Legislature.

We begin with the agony of delay after Gov. Jay Inslee sent them home for two weeks after the regular session.

“The anticipation of waiting 2 weeks for WA Leg’s special session is certain to make it even MORE special — as if that’s even possible.”

Then, after doing not much for the first few weeks of special session, the House met to actually pass a few bills:

“WA House will have floor session today. Question is, after all these days of inactivity, will they know how to find it?”

The underground Legislature is made even more frustrating by the absurd contention by Inslee and legislative leaders that once they begin negotiating a final budget, a Cone of Silence must settle over them. Saying anything constitutes “negotiating in the press.” Yet that didn’t stop both sides from having press conferences to assert, without details, that they were right.

“Dueling press conferences in Oly mean that politicians think public should have full access to partisan rhetoric but not on details of talks.”

It reached ridiculous levels after House Democrats decided to release and adopt a new compromise budget, and the coalition of 23 Senate Republicans and two Senate Democrats — known as the Majority Coalition Caucus — pounced.

“WA Majority Coalition Caucus just had press conference to say nothing because they’re not gonna negotiate in press. Why hv presser then?”

My frustration boiled over the more I thought of the idea of having a press “conference” to announce that they are not announcing anything … or saying anything … or answering any questions.

“Not negotiate in press? Session started moving when the House D’s presented a new plan in public. Senate MCC should give it a try.”

“MCC leaders have now become the Stepford Wives of politicians. Stand, look pretty and say absolutely nothing.”

At least they were in Olympia and in the fray. After Seattle Times reporter @Jim_Brunner tweeted about Ed Murray’s comments at a Seattle mayoral forum Thursday, I wondered:

“Shouldn’t the Democratic leader of the state Senate be in the state Senate today? Stuff is kinda starting to happen.”

For much of the session, distractions were needed. One came after MCC leader Rodney Tom gave a candid — for him anyway — interview with the Seattle online site Publicola. Among the revelations was that the maverick Democrat was endorsing a conservative Republican in a special election in the Tri-Cities. Tom said other candidates could be worse than Republican Sharon Brown.

His back-handed compliment made me wonder:

“Will we see this Rodney Tom quote on Sen. Sharon Brown’s brochures? ‘I don’t think she’s a crazy Tea Party whack job.’”

Finally, I noticed again that Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place, makes sausage as her day job.

“Rep. Walsh, a sausage maker, is only one who can really know the adage about sausage and laws being 2 things u don’t wanna watch being made.”

Peter Callaghan can be reached at


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