May 29, 2011 in City

Spin Control: List of Legislature non-stories plentiful

I’ll do my best to take the pledge
By The Spokesman-Review
 

If there were a 12-step program for reporters to curb our addiction for stories we know aren’t going anywhere, I’d sign up in a heartbeat after the late, not-so-great legislative session.

“Hi, my name is Jim, and I’m addicted to stupid ideas that I can’t help writing about.”

They’d all say “Hi” back, and I could launch into my tale of woe, about the time and energy and newsprint wasted on things like a bill to legalize marijuana, tax it and sell it in state liquor stores. Yes, there was such a bill. Yes, there was a hearing on it that filled a room with supporters and detractors, and, yes, it was different from the average run-of-the-mill hearing that features lobbyists in expensive suits who might carry the faint aroma of cigars because it instead featured folks with vintage rock-concert T-shirts who carried the not-so-faint odor of some other kind of smokable and patchouli. They were followed, of course, by a phalanx of law enforcement officials in crisply pressed uniforms saying what a cataclysmically stupid idea this was.

Sure, it was an interesting way that the state could maybe raise some money in a year when revenue is in the toilet but … it was not worth killing trees to make the paper that would carry such a story. It was Never. Going. To. Pass.

From now on, I vow not to write about any crazy drug bill short of legalizing crack and selling it at Costco.

Ditto for stories about some huge onerous shift in state law governing the initiative process, like charging $500 to file a proposal or reining in paid signature gatherers. Sure, it draws in Tim Eyman and other initiative entrepreneurs and sets them against the good-government types, two groups who are relentlessly earnest and almost endlessly quotable. But most legislators would rather French-kiss a rattlesnake than vote for major changes to initiative laws.

From now on, I will only write about initiative law changes that require sponsors to deposit their first-born children with the secretary of state and require signature gatherers to submit urine samples with their petitions.

I promise not to be drawn into the periodic silliness between Eastern and Western Washington, whether it’s a plan for the East Side to form a separate state or a plan from the West Side to merge all those empty rural counties on the other side of the Cascades into a single unit so Seattle motorists don’t have to memorize so many names. I promise not to write about anything short of Eastern Washington seceding from the Union and Western Washington posting guards at the passes to make sure no one gets through.

If someone proposes a bill for a state income tax, I vow not to write about it until it gets its first floor vote – and passes. The same for a bump in the sales tax, a tax on lattes, a proposed increase in the B&O tax by Democrats or a plan to eliminate the B&O tax by Republicans.

No more writing about bills that propose a new state beverage, state rock, state bird, state mollusk, state crustacean, state weed or state snowflake at the behest of some school kids. It’s great that some grade-school class in Centralia or Mercer Island or Brewster tries to learn something about how their government works, but the Legislature has bigger fish to fry. And stories about cute kids with cute ideas about cute animals, vegetables or minerals sets off a debate that can draw in more silliness than even the Legislature can handle.

Make coffee the state beverage? Would that be a standard cup of joe, or a triple nonfat latte? What about a local microbrew? Hey, don’t forget wine!

Text me when someone wants to propose a state state-of-mind. I’m not sure what it is, but I won’t be able to resist writing about it, why it favors one side of the state or the other, and the opponents who say it should be something else.

In the meantime, I’m ordering one of the possible state beverages and trying to figure out what they did to us with the budget.

Spin Control, a weekly column by Olympia reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items, reader comments and videos at www.spokesman.com/blogs/ spincontrol.


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