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Eye On Olympia


As Tuesday afternoon fades into evening -- and a likely late night as lawmakers try to beat tomorrow's bill cutoff -- it seems a good time to reflect on the sausage-making that is legislation.

For all the Senate-clashes-over-something stories, many of the thousands of bills that course through the statehouse each year are eye-rubbingly dull. The Senate, for example, is now grinding slowly through Substitute Senate bill 5387: Promoting Economic Development Through Commercialization of Technologies.

A Senate page swings by the press desk, handing out an amendment on an upcoming bill. The amendment would "provide for timelines and practices designed to minimize processing and review times, and for processing prior to completing applications and decision to the extent appropriate under current law."

Up in the Senate gallery, state troopers and security staff are waiting for the arrival of an announced sit-in by anti-war protesters. Forty minutes after they were scheduled to show up with noise makers, only one guy showed up.

"Excuse me Brad Owen, do you have a dollar?..Do you have 50 dollars? How about 100 dollars? Mr Owen, do you have a dollar?"

Security swooped in and led the guy -- who didn't resist -- out of the gallery. Lawmakers seemed perplexed by the message, with one saying that he should have asked Owen for a million dollars and another opining that perhaps the protest had something to do with payday lending.

Even the lawmakers can't seem to pay attention to each other. Sen. Bob Morton, R-Orient, got up a few minutes ago and waxed eloquent on how a four-foot piece of scrap timber can be all-but-worthless to a lumber mill. But to a chainsaw artist, Morton said, that scrap can be the foundation of a masterpiece.

Yet only the unblinking eye of the TVW cameras appeared to be paying any attention. All around Morton, his colleagues stared into their state-issued laptops, talked loudly into their phones or wandered into the wings.

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