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Eye On Olympia

THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 2009, 11:57 A.M.

Barlowparkermarr bill passes…

If you happened to be watching TVW yesterday afternoon, you may well have been left wondering what they're putting in the House coffeepot these days.

What the hell was that?

(Tech note: To replay this segment, refresh this page on your browser first. The video, if you don't have the 29 seconds to spare, shows state Rep. Joel Kretz saying that he doesn't know much about a bill, but he wanted it sent to a committee. "I was hopeful that, if nothing else, I could take credit for the bill," he said.)

Here's the backstory: This was House Republicans' way of protesting the fact that Senate Democrats have spiked what would have been freshman Rep. Kevin Parker's only successful bill this year: a modest proposal to simply allow the state veterans' administration take custody of veterans' cremated remains that have been sitting, abandoned, for years at funeral homes across the state. Parker, R-Spokane, was so eager to introduce the bill that he handed it in weeks before he was even sworn in.

Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane, apparently liking the idea, introduced a nearly-identical bill, SB 5481, weeks later. Not surprisingly, the majority-holding Democrats decided that they liked their guy's bill more. Despite some frantic last-minute lobbying by Parker, they killed his bill.

This greatly annoyed Republicans, who felt Parker had been robbed of a popular bill he'd worked hard on. Hence Kretz's tongue-in-cheek motion yesterday to try to put his name on one of the Democrats' bills. (It was quickly overruled.)

In the end, Parker proved gracious. He gave a short floor speech, calling Marr's version "a wonderful bill" and urging everyone to vote for it. And they did, unanimously.

(If this second segment doesn't load, trying hitting refresh on your browser.)

Case closed? Not quite. The man whom Parker ousted in November, former state Rep. Don Barlow, called this morning to remind me that it was Barlow, in fact, who came up with this idea. (Parker had also mentioned this.)

Barlow says the problem is real, that a surprising amount of veterans' ashes are sitting on shelves at many funeral homes, who are afraid to do anything with them for fear of a future lawsuit.

"We need to do something about those guys," said Barlow, a Democrat. "I'm glad to see that bill's in there."


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