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Spin Control: In case of low rhetoric, break out this boilerplate

Sun., March 16, 2014

OLYMPIA – So the Legislature blew Dodge on time for the first time since 2009. Sure, you’re saying “good riddance” now, but that may change if they avoid a special session and don’t show up until next January.

Political junkies who have been glued to TVW could suffer withdrawals from the speechifying that has been the soundtrack for the last two months.

Should anyone be jonesing for a little legislative eloquence in the meantime, here’s a bit of all-purpose rhetoric. Adopt a serious tone, start anywhere and end when the mood hits you. For real verisimilitude, have a friend yell “Point of Order” when the mood hits:

Mr. Speaker, I didn’t intend to speak on this bill, but I can’t resist the opportunity to address the body on an issue that’s of vital importance to the good men and women of my district and the hard-working folks all over the great state of Washington, who send us here to do the people’s business.

When I talk to my constituents in the diners and the coffee shops, the hardware stores and the supermarket lines, they tell me about their priorities, which must be our priorities.

We must provide for the education of our students, which is our paramount duty, because children are our future and our most precious resource. We must find new programs to help prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century, jobs in science, technology, engineering and math.

We must help the most vulnerable among us and not turn our backs on the people who find themselves in difficult circumstances through no fault of their own because of the Great Recession. We must do more.

Mr. Speaker, we can all agree that taxes are too high, and the Legislature should not reach into the people’s wallets or their pocketbooks and steal their hard-earned money. State government must live within its means, like a family sitting around the kitchen table, figuring out when to pay the mortgage and when to pay the utility bill and what to put away for the children’s college education. We must do away with waste, fraud and abuse.

We must not balance our budget on the backs of the citizens, because after all, Mr. Speaker, what is a budget but a statement of principles?

We must step up and do the right thing for small business, Mr. Speaker, which is the backbone of the economy and a key source of jobs in the state.

The state should not pick winners and losers. We must level the playing field so that all have an equal chance, and we must offer to help those key new businesses by providing them incentives to locate or grow in Washington, because if we don’t, Mr. Speaker, we know there are many states out there just waiting for us to fail. We can’t afford to let them take away our jobs and send them elsewhere. We must instead offer the incentives to businesses and persuade them to relocate here in the great state of Washington.

We must not ignore the will of the people when they tell us they want it to be hard to raise taxes. We must listen to them when they say they want smaller class sizes and cost-of-living raises for teachers.

Mr. Speaker, I must ask the good gentle lady who spoke before me to please remember we are one Washington, not a state divided between East and West, between urban and rural. We must never forget the farmers, who are the backbone of the economy, and a key source of jobs in our state.

But Mr. Speaker, I would remind the good lady – for whom I have the greatest respect and who has worked closely with me on many important issues – that the hard-working people of my district get back 99 cents for every $1 they pay in gasoline taxes and that while there are no ferries in my district, some of my voters’ tax money goes to pay for ferries elsewhere.

Transportation is our vital link to the world, Mr. Speaker, and we must never forget that Washington ranks first in the nation in jobs connected to international trade. It is the backbone of the economy, and a key source of jobs in our state.

Now my good friends across the aisle, and some of our esteemed colleagues in the other body – the place where good legislation goes to die – may object to some elements of this proposal, but Mr. Speaker, the perfect is the enemy of the good. I urge you to put down the amendment, and vote for the underlying bill.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Spin Control, a weekly column by Olympia reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items and reader comments at

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