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Eye On Olympia

Thu., March 26, 2009, 4:27 p.m.

Lawmakers watching their bills die as Senate cutoff looms…

This can be a stomach-churning time for lawmakers trying to shepherd pet bills over the finish line. If you need any evidence of that, ask Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane.

Parker, a freshman who narrowly ousted Democrat Don Barlow in November, was one of the first out of the gate this year when he introduced House Bill 1001. He filed it Dec. 8, standing in the rain on the capitol lawn to meet a handful of veterans who supported it.

The bill would allow the state Department of Veterans Affairs to claim human remains sitting unclaimed or abandoned by family members at funeral homes across the state.

Parker badly wants his bill to become law. And yet it's parked in a Senate committee, where it will soon die.*

"Being that it was the second bill (introduced) this session, and the day after Pearl Harbor Day, you'd think there could have been a hearing by now," Parker complained the other day. So he went to see the committee chairwoman, Sen. Darlene Fairley.

At this point, the two versions of what happened diverge.

Parker says he waited patiently for Fairley, and finally got a moment with her to urge her to move the bill ahead.

Fairley has a somewhat different take on what happened. She said, in essence, that Parker accosted her as she was trying to get somewhere on her electric scooter. She repeatedly described him as a "bully," and said that Parker threatened to complain loudly to the press.

Fairley says there's a simple reason she didn't hold a hearing or vote on the bill: there's a similar version from Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane.

"Marr's bill is alive and well," she said. "It does the same thing. The House sent me millions of bills. I can only hear so many. We're going with Marr's bill."

UPDATE: But wait, there's more: Republicans have apparently launched an effort to horse-trade and save Parker's bill. It ain't over yet.

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