Eye On Olympia

Long-distance lobbying by the planeload…

In a statehouse where competing interests clash for a limited amount of state cash and legislative time, Spokane-area business groups, universities, city and county officials and community groups have painstakingly learned a key lesson in recent years: it helps to be singing in chorus.

Nearly 80 Spokane-area officials and leaders have been haunting the marbled halls of Olympia for much of this week, pitching local priorities and trying to keep the region on lawmakers' radar.

From a story I had in this morning's paper:

Gone are the big white "I (heart) Spokane" buttons, the receptions heavy on hand- wringing and the public battles for money from the Legislature.

With paid lobbyists, local lawmakers in key leadership posts and a detailed – and long – wish list in hand, the region has gained clout and scored some big wins in recent years.

Admittedly, it helps to have a local lawmaker serving as Senate majority leader. But lawmakers -- including those with nothing to gain by burnishing the Lilac City's backside -- say that other areas would be wise to copy Spokane's strategy: prioritize local requests, be ready to suggest solutions instead of just whining, and turn out in force.

Full version of story is here.

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