A whole year stretches before us, blank as a reporter’s notebook in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Instead of filling space by looking back, Spin Control peeks ahead, calling up images in the crystal ball with the chant of Bullwinkle the Moose:
Eenie, meanie, chili beanie! The spirits of 2019 are about to speak.
The Legislature will convene on Jan. 14 with calls for bipartisanship on both sides and a pledge to finish “the people’s business” in less than the 105 days allotted for the session. Within 24 hours, Republicans will accuse Democrats of wanting to spend the state’s extra revenue like drunken cowboys at a Dodge City cat house, and Democrats will suggest that Republicans are stingier than a villain in a Dickens novel.
Gov. Jay Inslee will greet lawmakers with a State of the State speech calling for them to “bite the bullet” and approve a capital gains tax to help Washington pay for necessary new programs. Republicans will reply that to help Inslee’s ongoing campaign to control firearms, they will vote for a law to restrict bite-able bullets.
The Washington Policy Center will produce 437 studies, documents, court cases and affidavits indicating that a capital gains tax is an income tax, and therefore unconstitutional in Washington. Democrats will counter that it’s really an excise tax and an income tax is less regressive than the state’s current system, but that doesn’t mean they are willing to vote for one.
In February, Inslee will announce he is seriously mulling a run for president, but will explain in an exclusive interview with the Des Moines Register his trip to Iowa to participate in the annual Bike Ride to Rippey is just part of his normal cycling regimen. A Register poll of likely caucus attendees will have Inslee tied for 20th with “Huh?”
Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, will expand his efforts to make Eastern Washington into the 51st state of Liberty by announcing a competition for the new state’s song. After reviewing finalists, they will choose the theme song from the TV sitcom “Green Acres” in honor of the new state’s future capital.
In March, as part of their effort to fight a law calling for Spokane County to expand to five commissioners, the existing three commissioners will vow to fight the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ten current and former legislators who hope for a new better-paying job promise to file amicus briefs against that case.
In April, Inslee will announce he is meticulously studying a run for president, but will insist in an exclusive interview with the Boston Globe his trip to New Hampshire is merely a chance to investigate acid rain damage from coal-fired power plants. A Globe poll of likely Democratic voters in the New Hampshire primary will show Inslee tied for 19th with “Is it time for another presidential campaign already?”
Rep. Shea will expand his efforts to make Eastern Washington into the 51st state with a plan to make Eastern Oregon into the 52nd state named South Liberty, and to make North Idaho into the 53rd state of East Liberty. The American Legion, which pays scrupulous attention to flag etiquette, will oppose plans for 53 states under the theory that 53 is a prime number and there’s no good way to display the stars on the blue field.
On the 103rd day of the 105-day legislative session dawns, House and Senate leaders will insist they can finish on time despite the fact that they have not yet passed a two-year budget. Two days later they will announce they are shocked – shocked! – to discover they need a special session.
In May, citing the well-known precedent set in “Summertime v. Blues” the three Spokane County commissioners opposed to the five-commissioner law will announce they are taking their problems to the United Nations. Fifteen current and former city council members who had planned to run for the extra seats will demand equal time to address the General Assembly.
In June, Inslee will announce he is studiously examining a run for president, but will tell Rachel Maddow in a special satellite interview from the Capitol Dome that Americans would be much better off if the United States raised the federal minimum wage and pardoned misdemeanor marijuana convictions the way Washington has. In a follow-up poll of card-carrying progressives, MSNBC will report Inslee in a four-way tie for 17th with “Huh?” “None of the above” and “Dude!”
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will be rumored to be the likely pick for an empty cabinet seat in the Trump administration, prompting six Republicans and two Democrats who were supporting the five-commissioner law to announce plans for a congressional campaign. Those plans will be scrapped when President Trump names Jared Kushner to the position.
In August, the Spokane municipal primary will have record low turnout, despite free postage for return ballot envelopes and Uber drivers with drop boxes available to pick up ballots from any voter who calls.
In response to a wolf killing a calf grazing on state land in northeastern Washington, the Department of Fish and Wildlife will spend $39,237 on helicopters, trackers and hunters to find and shoot the wolf. The next day, another calf will be killed on the same land by a different wolf.
In September, Inslee will be listed fifth in a poll of possible Democratic presidential candidates after campaigning all summer on a platform of reducing carbon pollution except for the carbon pollution the comes from smoking marijuana – adding that his state grows the best pot. Political pundits on CNN will be divided over whether Inslee peaked too soon or over-extended the state’s marijuana crop.
In October, Shea will revise his plans for the 51st state to create a 54th state out eastern California, which will satisfy the American Legion because 54 stars can be arranged in six rows of nine or three rows of 10 and three rows of eight. Because it will contain Death Valley, the new state would be called “Liberty or Death.”
In an effort to cancel the five-commissioner law, the three current Spokane County commissioners will announce they are filing a challenge in International Court of the Hague. Fifty-five candidates who lost races for other seats but are sure they can win a district commissioner race will challenge the challenge.
In November, turnout in the Washington municipal elections will hit a new record as a result of putting drop boxes in every Starbucks and state-licensed pot shop, which will dispense a 50 percent off coupon for a purchase when voters deposit their ballots. It will usher a new golden age of harmonious good government in the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley, which will last until February 2020.
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