There is a lot of national debate...in fact it actually IS the debate: What do these legislators know about really important subjects before they vote on them?
My freshman year Jeannette Haynor was the Senate Majority leader. We were in the majority by one vote. I had just won with something like 250 votes to spare. You could say that the effort of the people in the 31st District gave us that one vote majority. I was that 25th vote.
I wanted to make sure I darn well knew what the bill was before I voted.
One of the things we do in caucus is go over impending legislation. If you have been around awhile you see some of these concepts over and over and you pretty much know from the get-go if it is something you and your district will support.
But, laboring to understand all that was before me I had lots of questions.
Scott Barr was a state senator from the Wenatchee area. He had to be 75. He was a very wealthy guy. I later told him he ought to buy the press over there and we would at least have one that was conservative in the state.
When the House bills began coming over there was yet another batch of bills. In caucus the ranking member on each committee would, after discussion, give a recommendation on how to vote. I complained a bit because we were going over the bills at such a rapid pace and I still had questions.
The venerable Senator Scott Barr, sensing my frustration, turned to me and said: "Pam, in the Senate we have half the members and twice the trust."
Scott never bought the newspaper. And, I never stopped asking questions. In fact, I venture opinions more often than most. Turns out in today's caucus there is not near the discussion and less than half the trust.
We had a transportation presentation yesterday. (Coincidentally, we had been joined by the "Mainstream Republicans" who through former congressman Sid Morrison told us we needed more reasonable...from the left...candidates to win our races.) In that transportation presentation what was not stated was that our transportation ranking member was going to be doing a joint press conference with the transportation chair, Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, on the transportation budget. I guess the senate republicans gave agreement even before presenting to our caucus.
One western WA senator was VERY unhappy about the ferry plans for purchase, to the point of bringing in a tripod and easel to draw boat hulls of choice. I thought...this is the kind of presentation we should be having!!! Let's see what the heck is going on here! My point? NO CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION WERE PRESENTED. Members were left to really debate a plan that had already been accepted by others. This is not the free airing of issues and majority of the caucus approach that Haynor used to present a united front.
My big beef? REPUBLICAN SENATE TRANSPORTATION NEGOTIATORS WORKED ONLY WITH SENATE DEMOCRATS. THEY NEVER ONCE HAVE MET WITH THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS (WHO HAVE TAKEN SOME OPPOSITION TO THE DEMOCRAT TRANSPORTATION PLAN AND HAVE SOME VERY GOOD IDEAS THAT WE SHOULD SUPPORT.)...I know this because I called the House Republican Ranking on transportation and asked him during our meeting!
I happen to like the House suggestion that the land underneath the viaduct be sold to help pay for the Seattle viaduct replacement project. It was never discussed in our caucus. The House Republican plan was never discussed not because there would have been no support ...but because there WOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPORT FOR IT.
Even Congress has more coordination and effort than this!