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Eye On Olympia

Sure, the dome’s nice, but where are the refrigerator magnets?

For years, Republicans and conservative Democrats have been calling on the state to act more like a business, and now it might actually happen.

Every year, tens of thousands of schoolchildren and tourists troop through the state capitol, posing for photos by the dome and peering down from the House and Senate galleries at the lawmakers harrumphing below.

They gawk at the Supreme Court building, peer up at the weight-of-a-Volkswagen chandelier in the rotunda and pose for photos beside the huge bronze bust of George Washington, whose nose gleams from being rubbed so much.

Nowhere in this grand tableau, however, is a place to buy souvenirs. (Update: Whoops — this is wrong. See below.) Anyone wanting, say, an Olympia keychain/shot glass/tiny spoon/magnet or even an Olympia postcard would be well advised to drive several miles away to the Fred Meyer store…in Lacey.

Rep. Sam Hunt wants to change that. The Olympia Democrat has proposed House Bill 1896, which “finds that tourism is encouraged providing a memorable experience and an opportunity for visitors to take something back home with them…” The bill would set up a gift shop in the statehouse, selling souvenirs and made-in-Washington products. The money would help pay for the furnishings in the capitol, where some of the furniture dates back to the 1920s.

UPDATE — and correction: Oh, the shame. I stand corrected. A former lawmaker reminds me that — while there’s nary a refrigerator magnet or snow globe in the collection — the Secretary of State’s office offers a wide array of things with the state seal on them. Most of them related to drinking, as it turns out.

There are wine glasses (different ones) for pinot noir, shiraz, and chardonnay. There’s a double old-fashioned glass ($28), a highball glass (also $28), a liquor decanter ($75), and wine bags in both cloth ($26) and paper ($3).

And for the next morning, there’s a $19 coffee mug.


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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