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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: lobbyists

Feeling a little bit too much love from the lobbyists…

Washington’s annual legislative session isn’t just a boon to restaurants and caterers. It’s also a source of great business for florists. Groups and lobbyists like to shower lawmakers with strategically timed big bouquets to grace their House and Senate desks.

But sometimes, apparently, it’s all a bit much. When the House returned from a dinner break a few minutes ago, Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Morris opened things by announcing that the bouquets would be rounded up and removed tonight.

“There’s been an allergy outbreak,” he said. “We’re going to have security come and collect the flowers and store them in your offices.”

Roundup: Nafziger, Davis, Roach…

Ouch: Senate Democratic chief of staff Rich Nafziger, on his personal blog, blasts Gov. Chris Gregoire for continuing to favor budget cuts over a tax increase. Nafziger, tongue firmly in cheek, names Gregoire the recipient of his new weekly Herbert Hoover award. (Vast 1930s’ tent cities of the impoverished homeless, you’ll recall from your Great Depression history, were known as “Hoovervilles.”)

“It is clearly in the Hoover tradition to cut programs to the needy who spend all their money and cut jobs for public employees who join the ranks of the unemployed and curtail spending. Obviously this is better than taxing businesses or individuals who sit on their money, or oil companies who earn enormous profits…” writes Nafziger. (UPDATE: The post has disappeared from the blog.)

But wait, there’s more: Also drawing fire from Nafziger: lobbyists with bloated egos:

“Last week, lobbyists in Olympia were horrified that that the head of a major regulator(y) agency was not able to testify at a committee hearing. Despite his eminence and importance, the poor guy was forced to wait up to an hour and stomped out of the room in anger…” he wrote.

“The fact of the matter that the public hearing process in Olympia could be improved. Citizens are unable to take time off of work to come down make their opinions. Meanwhile, lobbyist earning 7 figure incomes clutter the hearing dockets and roam the halls. This is broken.”

It’s absolutely true that the hearing process favors the pros. I’ve sat in many hearings, listening to politicians, lobbyists and state agency staffers testifying at length, only to have regular-Joe citizens subsequently be told they’ll get only two minutes. (This comes complete with a humiliating little system of warning signs or red lights.) These are often citizens who have never testified before. Many have driven long distances and taken the day off from work. Some carry photos of family members or little hand-written speeches they’ve labored over. And they end up being told — always with a quick apology — to please keep it short.

-Richard Davis: Writes in the Puget Sound Business Journal that instead of keeping jobs, the churn of lawmaking in Olympia “seems designed to stimulate business departures.” Business is unhappy with a proposed ban on calling mandatory workplace meetings to oppose unionization, for example, and proposals to tap the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund to improve benefits. Writes Davis:

And with manufacturing layoffs piling up like pizza boxes after the Super Bowl party, lawmakers are considering job-threatening climate change regulations. They call this stimulus?

-Pam Roach’s advice: In the wake of economic advisor Robert Reich’s congressional testimony that the federal infrastructure dollars should not simply go to professionals or to white male construction workers, state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, has these words of warning for those workers:

The plan is the same. Pay off all debt including the house. Put away an emergency fund. Plant fruit trees. Plant a garden. Store a three month supply of food for your family. Learn to do with less.


 

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

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