In their weekly update, the Washington State Labor Council makes a lengthy and earnest plea to have the worker privacy bill considered this session. Readers may recall the proposal was killed after Gov. Chris Gregoire and Legislative leaders referred an internal labor email to the state patrol, which quickly concluded nothing criminal had happened.
The labor council is asking for someone to take responsibility for all of this. From the WSLC web site:
When a powerful legislative leader unilaterally quashes a bill, that leader is expected to explain his or her actions. Part of being a leader is having the courage of your convictions to defend your actions.
You might kill a bill because you personally oppose it. Then it’s your responsibility to stand up and explain why you blocked a vote. If there are consequences, accept them.
You might also kill a bill for political reasons, thinking you are doing your “members” a favor by helping them avoid taking a tough vote that involves powerful constituencies who disagree. Then it’s your responsibility to stand up and explain why you, as the leader, chose sides. Why did you side with those who wanted to block a vote, over those who wanted to allow a vote?
In the case of the Worker Privacy Act, we’re still waiting for somebody to stand up, accept responsibility and explain his or her actions.
Meanwhile, Josh over at Publicola suggests that there is some amount of unhappiness in the House caucus, partially over this issue. I can’t honestly assess the happiness of the House, living down here in my Clark County hermitage, but there seem to be some legitimate criticisms. To be fair to leadership, the risk of a wingnut-type circle jerk in reverse is something that must be guarded against.
It’s not necessary nor desirable that every progressive bill come to the floor. I don’t know jack about the details of legislative procedure, but common sense tells everyone that out of hundreds or thousands of bills only a few will make it.
And that’s why people organize to advocate for legislation. Business does it, labor does it, and left-handed fans of Rosemary chicken do it. And that’s fine, that’s the way the system works.
But it’s also worth recognizing that most regular people have no advocate sending flowers to the floor, and it’s incumbent on everyone in the much-maligned “system” to take into account these folks. Easier said than done, of course, but killing bills that have wide-spread popular support without a vote is not very democratic. Especially when you call the cops.