The Legislative Session began on Monday, and it was a dark day. Yes, it was pouring rain, and that certainly made for a dreary day, but the day was truly dark, because the people were officially locked out of the legislative process by a vote of the Majority Democrats in the House and the Senate. If you will notice, I have changed my photo from one that depicts our beautiful Capitol with cherry blossoms and blue sky. Instead, you will see a fence. A very tall fence. And guards that make it difficult to enter the grounds, even for those who work there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for our Washington State Patrol and the National Guard, and I am always ready to offer them my personal thanks. The reason they are there is because of the decisions made by the Governor and the Democrats. This is going to be the photo I use for my newsletters until the people are allowed back into the process as I believe the Constitution demands.
With that background, I’m going to give you another tool to become informed. Using this tool takes a little longer, and those with busy lives might not be able to use it as much, but I want you to take the time to listen to the Senate Floor action on Monday when session opened. At that time, the rules adopted by the Democrats restrict access to the Legislature. They restrict not only the public, but they also restrict legislators themselves. The bill that contains those rules is Senate Resolution 8601 (SR 8601). A link to that bill is here – https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=8601&Year=2021&Initiative=false
The new tool I want to introduce is TVW.org, an organization and website that gives you live access to committees and floor action. This is a poor substitute for being there, and it doesn’t allow personal interaction, which I believe is necessary to the political process. However, it is useful to see what your legislators are saying. Heaven knows, we don’t get the whole story from the media. You need to research it yourself.
Before I give you the links, I’m going to suggest that if you are going to use an hour or two of your time on politics, dial back a little on what you are watching when it comes to national politics and put a little more time into what is happening in Olympia. Not only do the decisions made in Olympia affect you more personally, the process there is something you can weigh in on today. Right now. It requires a bit of strategic action on your part, but you can affect what happens in Olympia to a far greater degree than you can make anything happen in D.C.
Here is a link to Mondays proceedings on SR 8601 – It’s 1 hour long, but even if you listen to a small portion of the debate, you will see the difference between the two sides.
Now I’m going to provide a few insights into how the caucus works together that you may not know. Each Republican Senator has different roles to play in the Caucus. Senator Braun is Republican Leader, so he often speaks for the entire caucus as well as for himself. The same goes for Senator Rivers who is Caucus Chair. Then there is Senator Short who is floor leader. She will make sure the voice of the minority is heard during proceeding. Senator Wagoner is the Whip. It’s his job to make sure that if a member isn’t there for any reason that they are excused.
Each Senator also has a different personality and a different expertise. They will often talk together to decide who will debate a certain angle of a bill that is before them. It wouldn’t be very useful if every one of them say the same thing in the same way. They want to make sure the full Republican message is able to be given on the floor, so each takes one part of the controversy and speaks to that specific issue or they may use a different argument. Sometimes not everyone will speak, because again, repeating the same words over and over doesn’t do anything but cause people to turn off TVW. If you do not watch TVW ever again, please take the time to watch this opening floor session. I think you will see that you don’t get the whole picture from the media.
Another floor session will be taking place today that I believe will open your eyes even further to what is going on. The session will begin after the Governor’s State of the State and the Republican response – probably around 1:30. It’s impossible to know the exact time. But click on https://www.tvw.org/ , click on the arrow that is just to the left of the work “schedule” and then choose WA State Senate Channel from the menu. You can watch the floor debate there. If you choose the WA State House of Representatives Channel, you can watch the floor debate there. They will be debating the same issue. I have a feeling that the issue being discussed will be one that strikes at the heart of many people in this state! (Note: sometimes, there will be no floor proceedings, and TVW will show a blank screen that says “Senate at Ease.” This happens when the two sides leave the floor and go into a closed group meeting called a caucus to discuss their strategy. Keep watching – they will be back. If the notice says “Senate Adjourned”, that means they are done for the day.)
You will notice that there is no yelling on the floor. Emotion and passion, yes. Chaos, no. There are different functions for each of us in the process, and the floor of the Senate is not the place for screaming at each other. It’s not the place for holding a sit-in demonstration or gathering masses of people to take over the room. Legislators will often take part in demonstrations outside the Senate Chambers and they might make headline news by what they say in an interview, but the Senate is a place of deliberation and debate. It’s not only tradition – it’s the way we carry out a constitutional government.
The truth is that right now, the majority is made up of Democrats. They have the votes to pass most of what they want. That is our fault – yours and mine. We failed to persuade enough people to vote for a Republican candidate. I believe that much of the reason is that we’ve let our rhetoric become too offensive. I will address that thought at a later time because I have another 12-hour day of work ahead of me. But I want to leave you with this thought. Would you be persuaded to another viewpoint by someone who calls you names and claims you are evil? I know we Republicans get that all the time – personally, I cease to listen the minute someone calls me names or claims I’m evil because I don’t agree. I know that is something that is emotionally satisfying, but it won’t change a single person’s mind.
I hope this is helpful, and if you missed the first 4 newsletters of this session that contain the links and tools necessary for your voice to be heard, drop me a note at Boistfortpco@gmail.com, and I will get those to you. Please forward or post any of my info, if you think it would be helpful to others.