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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

How busy is the Legislature?

A marmot takes a break – from mayhem, perhaps? – in Riverfront Park. 
 (Rajah Bose / The Spokesman-Review)
A marmot takes a break – from mayhem, perhaps? – in Riverfront Park. (Rajah Bose / The Spokesman-Review)

Note to Legislature: Handle the big stuff

In Olympia, one might argue, not very busy.

The State Senate has passed a bill making the Olympic marmot the state mammal. The proposal is now  before a House committee.

As is typical with such proposal, it started with a grade school class that leaned upon a local legislator to propose and pass the bill. In this case, the class is the Fourth Grade at Seattle's Wedgewood Elementary, and the legislator is Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle.

It's not clear from Kathie Durbin's story in The Columbian, but these are often an exercise in teaching students something about how their government, or the legislative process, works. Kids come up with something that would make a cute state something and learn how to turn the idea into a reality.

While this sounds like a great idea in theory, it could easily be argued this year it's a bad idea to practice.


First, the state budget is about $9 billion out of whack, so naming the state mammal or the state anything is something probably better left to another year. Sure, this doesn't cost anything, and it gives the honorables a chance to make nice with 10-year-olds, but shouldn't they be attending to the real business at hand?

B. Even if it passes, this is not a good example of how the Legislature works in most cases. Sure, if the Olympic marmot had lobbyists, who could give contributions to legislators who might otherwise be inclined to name some other fur bearing critter, such as the cougar, the state mammal, or if their was a group demanding equal attention to ampibians, or a coalition for equal rights for invertibrates, or people picketing with signs that proclaim "a marmot ain't nothin' but a varmint," that might be an honest lesson in the process of getting this particular animal a state seal of approval.

And 3, why shouldn't our East Side marmots not be considered for state-ness? Aren't they just as cute? And so what if the Olympic marmot is endangered? Many of the marmots on the north side of the Spokane River got forced out of their homes by Marshall Chesrown's Kendall Yards project.

If you think I'm wrong, feel free to tell me


The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.