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Crouse to resign at end of year

Republican Larry Crouse will retire after 19 years in the Legislature, likely setting off a rush of GOP hopefuls in the Spokane Valley district.

Crouse announced Tuesday he plans to retire as of Dec. 31, halfway through his current term, because of health problems that kept him away from the Legislature for much of the 2013 sessions. . .

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McLaughlin considering move to Spokane Valley

Spokane’s most senior elected official is considering a move to the east.

City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said last week that she may move into Spokane Valley’s 4th Legislative District to run for the House seat held by state Rep. Larry Crouse – if he decides to retire.

McLaughlin, a Republican, can’t run for a third term on the City Council because of term limits.

Crouse, 68, said he likely will decide if he’ll run again early next year. He said he’s had a rough legislative session this year because of his health, but that he doesn’t suffer from any life-threatening illness. Crouse had surgery early this year because of a blocked artery in his leg and later suffered from food poisoning. But he said he’s getting back to normal.

“It has a lot to do with my health,” Crouse said. “If I feel good and feel capable of doing a good job, it’s a possibility that I will run again.”

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2011 WA Lege: Counting the votes

OLYMPIA — With the Legislature a full week in the books, the group WashingtonVotes, has released its annual statistics about the number of bills introduced and passed, the votes taken…and the votes missed.

Topping the list of missed House votes was Rep. Larry Crouse, R-Spokane Valley, which was a surprise initially because Crouse is usually far down in that tally. He missed 143 votes in the just-finished regular and special sessions, because of medical problems.

"In the past 16 years, I don't think I missed that many votes, total," Crouse said Thursday.

He had back surgery last October, and his back started acting up again after the session started. "It was miserable," he said. "It got so bad that I h ad to schedule surgery again. I didn't have a choice."

He scheduled it for  May, which would have been after the session, had the Legislature finished on time. Instead, the surgery fell in the middle of the special session. He made it in several days while recuperating, but otherwise stayed away.

"I was in contact, on the phone, with leadership. If they needed me there, I would be there," he said. As it turned out, there weren't  many 714 roll call votes in the House that were close.

No. 4 on the list of missed votes for House members was John Ahern, R-Spokane, with 66 missed votes.  Ahern returned to the Legislature after a term off, and had better voting attendance in previous sessions.

"I had a couple of family emergencies, two hospitalizations," he said Thursday. First his wife was ill, then his son was in a car accident, and he was back in Spokane for those votes. He said he enterred in the House record how he would have voted, had he been there.

Topping the Senate list was Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, who told the organization many of the 120 votes he missed were a result of being away for the unexpected death of his father. Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, was second with 79 votes. Some were a result of the "unforeseeable conflicts due to the nature of special sessions," he said, while others occured during votes that weren't close and he chose to be off the floor "to meet with constituents who have come to see me." 

Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, missed 36 of the 648 Senate votes cast, and Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, missed 30. But that put them 10th and 13th from the top, respectively.

Some Spokane-area legislators had perfect scores. In the House, Republicans Joel Kretz of Wauconda, Joe Schmick of Colfax; Matt Shea of Spokane Valley, and Shelly Short of Addy, as well as Democrats Andy Billig and Timm Ormsby, made every roll call vote. So did Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville.

Having a perfect voting record in the Senate is a bit more difficult, because senators have to be present to vote by voice when the roll call is taken. The House votes by machine, in a very short allotted time, and it is possible for a representative who is off the floor to leave instructions with a seatmate which button to push.

But representatives do have to be in the chamber that day. They can't call in a vote from Spokane after watching the debate on TVW.

Other fast facts from Washingtonvotes.org: Legislators introduced 2,093 bills and passed 444.

Unmarked cop car bill introduced

OLYMPIA — Police could not park their unmarked cars on private property and do routine administrative work under a bill introduced by two Valley legislators.

The bill, a reaction to the shooting of Pastor Wayne Scott Creach in the Spokane Valley, isn't likely to get a hearing in what's left of the special session. But Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said he wanted to get a conversation started on the issue and have law enforcement raise their concerns during the interim. He expects to reintroduce a bill on the topic in the 2012 session.

The special session, which today finished the 15th day of the 30-day session, was called to finish work on the 2011-13 budgets and any legislation needed to implement those spending plans. Bills that aren't tied to the budget require agreement of both parties' leaders in both chambers to come to a vote.