Eleven Republican state senators filed a bill yesterday, SB 6883, that would bar legislators from collecting a per diem during the coming special session, which I suppose might be taken as a serious attempt to protect the interests of taxpayers, if not for the fact that its last-minute filing ignores both Senate rules and the Washington State Constitution.
ARTICLE II, SECTION 36: WHEN BILLS MUST BE INTRODUCED.
No bill shall be considered in either house unless the time of its introduction shall have been at least ten days before the final adjournment of the legislature, unless the legislature shall otherwise direct by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, said vote to be taken by yeas and nays and entered upon the journal, or unless the same be at a special session.
I heard Sen. Joe Zarelli, SB 6883’s prime sponsor, on the radio this morning attacking majority Democrats for wasting the 60 days they had, yet I’m not really sure how filing a symbolic bill that can’t be considered helps to explicate matters during the busy final days of the regular session? Republicans complain that they have been excluded from crucial budget negotiations, but if this is the sort of “constructive” role they hoped to have played, it’s easy to see why.
Regardless, it doesn’t take an act of the legislature to pass up the $90 a day legislators are reimbursed to cover housing, food, travel and all other expenses incurred during session. So I would hope my friends in the Olympia press corps might ask Senators Zarelli, Carrell, Holmquist, Becker, Stevens, Morton, Parlette, Honeyford, Brandland, King and Hewit if they’re just, you know, grandstanding, or if they’re actually willing to set an example for the rest of their colleagues by voluntarily declining the meager compensation that is their due?