Writings and observations

Most times, most places, efficiency is a virtue, even a pretty high one. But there are times and places where higher virtues should rule. Legislatures, for example.

Legislators (in many states) tend to place a lot of stock in getting things done swiftly and keeping legislative sessions brief. Or, in Washington’s case – since the regular session is strictly limited by the constitution – avoiding a trailer special session, which could still happen this year. As an expression of avoiding wasted time or money, that’s reasonable enough. But running through carefully-crafted legislation that has been vetted by the public would seem to be a stronger priority.

This comes to mind with the increasing use this year of “title only” (or “ghost”) bills – measures in which only the legal framework and none of the content is moved through the legislature, with the critical content being added at the last minute. It’s about to be happening a lot, apparently, with budget bills.

Representative Ross Hunter, D-Medina, reportedly said “that staff members told him it must be done in order make sure lawmakers don’t get stuck at the end of the session without the ability to pass a budget.”

In other words, if the numbers come out earlier, there might be protests, blowups and loads of proposed amendments. In fact, there probably would be.

But how would those people react if the harsh reality is simply dumped on them as legislators scram out of town? Would that really be better?

Washington’s legislators could be on the verge of finding out.

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