We don’t pay lawmakers to make lame jokes

The OlympianMarch 13, 2013 

Stop with the snarky legislation.

First four snippy House Democrats proposed legislation to create a training wage for new legislators that is 25 percent less than what is paid to lawmakers today.

Now three grumpy Republican senators have introduced a bill to cut the state Supreme Court by four justices.

The training wage for new legislators was a hit on Republicans trying to poke holes in Washington’s state minimum-wage law by mimicking legislation backed by small business and restaurant groups that would allow for temporary lower minimum wage for teens.

The smaller Supreme Court idea appears to be a hit on the court for overturning tax-increase constraints on the Legislature, or perhaps it’s a half-baked punishment to the high court for trying to hold the legislature responsible for fully funding basic education, a la the McCleary decision.

Republicans insist the bill to reduce the size of the court is serious, saying that as the Legislature looks to make cuts in other areas of state government, why should the judiciary be exempt?

If passed, the bill would require a public meeting for the current nine justices to draw straws. The four who draw the shortest straws would be terminated, and those judges shall not serve the remainder of their respective unexpired terms. Wow, how serious can these guys get?

While the basic legislative underpinnings regarding the state budget and financial job creation are real policy issues, the manner by which legislators are approaching it is nothing more than sarcastic political showboating. Such sarcasm is best left to late-night talk shows and not the business of the people.

We agree with the concept of looking at other areas of state government for savings, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of the Legislature. With no tongue-in-cheek, we offer those snarky legislators our own list of proposals:

 • Eliminate the House of Representatives and move to a unicameral, or single-chamber, Legislature.

 • Or, as an alternative efficiency measure, reduce the number legislators by half (25 senators and 50 representatives) by redistricting the existing 49 districts into 26.

 • Focus legislative staff resources by restricting the number of bills introduced by a single legislator to three.

 • Require all bills to have bipartisan prime sponsorship.

We don’t expect any member of the Legislature to propose these ideas, just like we don’t expect either of their snarky bills to pass any serious consideration.

But we do expect real workable solutions to the problems facing the state. Prickly political showboating only continues to reinforce the public’s low opinion of lawmakers.

With half of the regular session remaining, let’s hope that this is the last of the snarky legislation for 2013.

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