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WA Lege Day 101: More than just a survey course

OLYMPIA -- As the Legislature moves toward temporary adjournment today, the Senate is likely to take up the 2011-13 Transportation Budget now that a key question has been resolved.

The Senate began debate on the budget bill Tuesday afternoon, but quickly stopped when Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, proposed an amendment to require anyone seeking a new drivers license to present proof that they were a legal resident of the state. (For previous post, click here.)

Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, objected, saying essentially that's a policy change that should be made separately, not tacked onto a budget bill, and that it's outside the scope of the bill that is written as a plan for spending money on road and bridge projects. Her point of order had to be reviewed by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who decides such points as president of the Senate.

This morning Owen ruled Brown was correct and Benton's amendment was out of order. Previous rulings have declared that budget bills "are not an appropriate place to develop substantive law". Requiring new license applicants to show proof of legal residence was the subject of a separate bill that didn't pass the Senate previously, he added: "Out of order."

The Senate quickly adjourned and the parties went into caucus. When they return, expect some votes.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.