Legislative Flavor: Hurry up and Wait

“Hurry up and wait” is a phrase used a lot in Olympia. If you ever testified in front of the state legislature (virtually or in-person), it will pass through your mind. You arrive early, find a place to park and where you’re supposed to testify, then wait. You could be the first person to testify on the first bill or the last person on the last bill, but you won’t know until they call your name to come up and speak your piece.

This is another time when capitol watchers are forced to hurry up and wait while legislative compromises get worked out. In addition to parsing the dollars and cents between the House and Senate’s operating, capital, and transportation proposals, there are still serious policy decisions on the table. These bills are going through the reconciliation process between the House and Senate and occurring simultaneously with budget negotiations. Some legislation gets smoothed out very easily, often with a quick conversation and unanimous approval all around. Some bills will die at this point, passing through the House and the Senate but then some fundamental difference emerges that unravels months of effort. Others are titanic political clashes being played out in newspapers and social media all across the state that require a resolution before anyone can leave town. There is also the magic legal phrase –“necessary to implement the budget” — which can resurrect otherwise dead policy proposals, throwing them back into the mix.

Just like with committee hearings, one can never know when legislators will decide to focus on your issues. So while WACD sits waiting for our name to be called, ready to jump on a moment’s notice, we are hyper-aware of the other conversations happening around us as the end of the legislative session draws near. I thought I could end this week’s Legislative Flavor with some of those bills that rate the largest headlines to date yet to be decided. When you can do nothing but wait, letting the surrounding conversations wash over you helps pass the time and informs you of the context we work in.