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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Sunday Spin 3: Going through the motions

As the Legislature’s third special session drags on, it gets harder to find any evidence of actual legislative activity, let alone legislators.

Take Friday morning, when both the Senate and House were scheduled for “pro forma” sessions, which are quick in and outs with a bare minimum of lawmakers present. The Senate managed it in a matter of minutes with Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, and Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, going through the motions.

In the House, however, there were no representatives present at the appointed time.

Chief Clerk Bernard Dean, who is not a legislator, stepped up to the microphone, banged the gavel to open the session, made a motion to adjourn and banged the gavel to close it.

Was it kosher to run the show without a single rep present? It was, Jim Richards, of House Democratic Communications, confirmed. The Speaker can designate any member to preside over the House, and if none is available he can designate the chief clerk, who is elected by the House to that position. 

But if no representative is around, it seems it should be called a “no forma” session and skipped entirely.

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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