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Spin Control

Archive for May 26, 2011

A look at the late, great 2011 Legislative session

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OLYMPIA — Before I left for Olympia, Photo Editor Liz Kishimoto gave me a camera. A really good camera, with two very nice lenses.

Other members of The Spokesman-Review's prize-winning photo staff gave me some tips on how to use it because, well, it's been a few decades since Press Photography I in Journalism School when students were given a camera and a notebook and told to come back with something in both. Having spent much of that time working with some of the best newspaper photographers in the country (this is objectively true, the S-R has a trophy case to prove it), it's possible to pick up a few things by osmosis.

The thing I learned most was to always carry the camera. The second thing was, it's digital so take lots of pictures. There's a better chance that one will turn out, and you can wipe out the really bad ones so no one else ever sees them. 

Over the course of the session, some were published in the paper, and others wound up online. Here's a slide show from some of the images from the just completed legislative session.

WA Lege: The day after

OLYMPIA — It is the day after the night before at the Capitol. Not quite a ghost town 12 hours after the gavel came down for the legislative session, but very little trace of what was here for the last four and a half months.

There are no lobbyists stalking the hallways, iPhones in one ear while they type on laptops with the free  hand. Almost no legislators, and staff members are packing up offices for what almost everyone hopes will be a long wait before they have to return. (Overheard in the Capitol Dome coffee shop: Migrating legislative staffer to permanent Capitol staffer: “So I told (my boss). Hey, you just voted to cut my pay. Thanks a lot.”)

A smattering of tourists are making the rounds. The most action of the day will probably be the noon concert in the Rotunda by the LaVenture Middle School Concert Band. If they'd only booked in a day earlier, they would've had a much bigger audience.

Next big day on the legislative calendar: June 16, when the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council updates its numbers for state revenue over the next two years.

Gregoire, Lege leaders praise ‘historic session’

From the president's rostrum in the Senate chamber, Gov. Chris Gregoire points to twin screens showing the leaders of the House and Senate gaveling the session to a close Wednesday evening.

OLYMPIA — Shortly after the gavel came down on the 2011 Legislative session, Gov. Chris Gregoire and several legislative leaders used some of the following terms to describe it:

“Truly bipartisan. It's a new trend in  how we're going to do business,” said Gregoire.

“It's hard to say 'What a great session'.. when so many sacrifices were made,” said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane.

“It was one of those times when the Legislatured did what the Legislature should do — solve problems,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla.

“A historic legislative session,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington.

They passed budgets in tough economic times without raising taxes. Republicans got some of the reforms they wanted, Democrats saved some of the social safety net programs that were on the chopping block.

There were a few things that didn't get done, like a transportation fee bill that got hung up in the Senate because it didn't have enough votes, Brown said. And some business tax exemptions that got hung up in the House because folks got tired and ran out of time, Sullivan said. While he wouldn't necessarily agree with the term “hostages” — a term that was used by lobbyists watching the bills and some members, Sullivan did say there wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for them among majority Democrats.

“Having passed a budget that didn't fund some of our priorities, it was difficult to get our members to turn around and pass tax breaks,” he said.

Speaking of the budget, the $32.2 billion general operating budget that was hailed as a model of bipartisanship when it passed the Senate Wednesday had to make it through the House the previous day without a single GOP vote. Same budget, very different partisan opinions. How could that be, the group was asked.

You'd have to ask the House Republican leadership, they said. Unfortunately, House GOP leaders were invited to the press conference but didn't attend.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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