February 8, 2011
Legislature should focus on priorities
Foolishness seems as prevalent as ever in the state Legislature, in spite of the urgency of dealing with a $5 billion shortfall — or whatever the newest high mark of the hour is.
We could start with our own 5th District Rep. Glenn Anderson, who filed a bill giving the Legislature the right to dissolve up to eight counties across the state, if they are deemed to be overly dependent on state funds. The bill is expected to go nowhere, yet Anderson is getting his day of fame for having put forth the idea. But the bill is at least an educational opportunity about the state budget and is worthy of thought.
Many other bills being filed this year are less than that. Remember, each bill costs time and money as it makes the rounds on committee agendas, is reviewed by attorneys for correct and legal language, co-sponsors are solicited, etc. It’s the business-as-usual attitude we object to, when it feels like a crisis that is going to impact us all.
Some of those bills that could easily be skipped include establishing coffee as the state beverage; renaming Interstate 5 as The Purple Heart Trail; designating sandstone from the Tenino quarry as the official state rock; designating the great blue heron as the state bird — replacing the current state bird, the willow goldfinch; and designating a state Christmas tree.
Resolutions don’t cost much, but they are a distraction. There seems to be plenty of room for resolutions this year, too, including recognizing the contributions of people who bring the arts to schools; the many resolutions “Honoring John or Jane Doe” — in many cases former legislators; and even resolutions honoring Martin Luther King Jr., who already has a national holiday in his honor. The only appropriate resolution this year would be to resolve to pass on all other resolutions — or would that become a bill?
We don’t mean to imply that our state representatives aren’t hard at work, but we do believe there is room for improvement. Focusing on budget cuts, changes to layoff criteria for teachers, merging state departments and other urgent business should leave little room for little else.