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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Sunday Spin 2: They vote, therefore they are

Under the stilted language of the Legislature, senators avoid saying the House of Representatives, and representatives avoid saying the Senate when debating bills. It’s usually “the chamber across the Rotunda” or “the other body” or sometimes “that place which is the graveyard of good legislation.”

In speaking favorably about a House bill recently, Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, began “This bill came out of the House --” then paused and amended his intro to “ – it came out of somewhere – 98 to 0.” 

After the bill passed, Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib felt the need to clarify the rule that Miloscia broke, although not the way the senator thought.

“There’s not a problem with mentioning the existence of the House of Representatives as an ontological matter,” he said. Giving the vote count is what’s not allowed.

“The theory, presumably, is you’re voting for a measure because you think it’s a good idea, not because the House of Representatives thinks it’s a good idea.”

Translation: You can mention them, just don’t pay any attention to them.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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