Stopping by the Washington statehouse today, neither the House nor the Senate seemed in particularly rushed, tense, and agitated sine die mode (this being the norm on the edge of adjourning).
True, their leaders had been making noises about adjourning Wednesday, but leadership always says things like that - gotta get the troops in the adjournin' frame of mind, you know. When we departed the statehouse, inthe midst of a particularly fierce rain, it was in the conviction that final adjounrment today was highly unlikely. After all, the state constitution still gave them another day for the abbreviated session - legislators always use all the time available.
So what do you know? Six hours later, they up and adjourned.
Shouldn't have been such a shock: That early wrapup was of a piece with what had gone before. On the day this term of the Washington Legislature began, a year ago January, it was the most bitterly, angrily divided in decades, maybe ever, with the arrival as well of a new governor whose very legitimacy was ferociously disputed by half the state and just under half the legislature. Mandate? Political chits? You gotta be kidding. Few legislative sessions in any state, ever, may have started less auspiciously.
From that point on, up through its final actions on Wednesday, this term of the Washington Legislature has exceeded expectations and pushed through one important piece of legislation after another - on roads, on medicine, on water rights, on a batch of other matters (even sexual predators, a subject which needed little revision in state law but this year did get a few useful additions). Seldom have Washington's legislators been so able to return home to constituents and point to such an impressive record.
These guys - and this level of productivity involved plenty of members of both parties, even if just one (the Democrats) was in charge - could give lessons.