OLYMPIA -- A bit of drama this afternoon before the Senate broke for lunch, with plans by Democrats to go "at ease" in the afternoon while the Ways and Means Committee holds a hearing on the budget and reform bills connected to it...and possibly come back for votes in the evening or Saturday.
After the motion to go at ease, Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, made a motion to recess until Monday. The difference: under the latter, no votes could be taken through the weekend.
Several Republicans had already headed home for the holiday weekend, and Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, is recovering from surgery. Some Republicans were concerned about orders to return to the Senate on Saturday or Sunday to vote on the budget, and with Hewitt missing, even if they all made it back they could face a 24-24 vote, with Democrats holding most of their members but the three breakaway Ds from an early budget vote casting their lot again with the Republicans.
In case of a 24-24 tie, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, a Democrat, would cast the deciding vote.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown argued passionately against recess. The bills that Republicans had been pushing for could get through the committee and be available for a vote Friday or Saturday, she said. If the Legislature has a chance of getting done by Tuesday, they'll need to move that legislation to the House as quickly as possible.
"This is not about the illness of one member. This is about getting the business of the state done," Brown, D-Spokane, said. "If necessary, I will personally take Sen. Hewitt's vote on that bill."
There's no problem with holding the hearing, Schoesler said. But the threat of being called back on Saturday or Sunday is a problem with some members already home with their families.
"The threat of a call of the house with a holy holiday coming is a very serious issue," he said.
Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, said her 94-year-old mother was being baptized as a Catholic on Saturday in Yakima, and "I hope to heck we get to go tomorrow." Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, said one of her relatives was also being baptized on Saturday. (Note: Catholics traditionally baptize new adult members during their Easter Vigil service.)
Not to be out religious-ed, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said the Democrats two Jewish members had agreed to stay as late as necessary Friday night, which is the beginning of Passover, "willing to forego their very holy day in order to get the business of the state done."
In the end, Owen ruled that the motion to go in recess came first, took precedence, and called for a vote on that. It passed. Unknown yet whether there will be votes late into the evening Friday, Saturday or Sunday.