Good morning on Day 1 of Washington's 62nd Legislature.
On each of the 105 days (and beyond?) of state lawmakers' work in 2011, we'll once again bring you a morning rundown of what to watch for in the day ahead.
Today we watch the culmination of an upstart's surprisingly successful bid to join the elite, a bid that was rocked, maybe even tainted, by revelations that he - apparently unknowingly - benefited from secretive and illicit help. No, I'm not talking about Cam Newton, who takes on Oregon today in the national championship game.
I'm talking about Sen.-elect Nick Harper. His fellow Democrat Jim Kastama is calling for Harper not to be seated in the Senate because of illegal actions by a labor-backed campaign to elect him. Kastama will try to introduce a resolution to that effect today, but Democratic leaders will do their darndest to prevent the resolution from ever coming to a vote.
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Instead, there will be a procedural vote on whether to vote on the resolution. At least three moderate Democrats may be prepared to side with Kastama on the resolution, but it's not clear if they will back him on the procedural motion. If he makes it past that hurdle, he would need near-unanimous support from minority Republicans to prevail.
Opening day is usually reserved for ceremonial pomp and circumstance, but this one's going to be interesting.
Here's what's up the rest of the day:
• Advocacy groups will be massing on the Capitol Campus in a show of opposition to the austere budget cuts being contemplated. State employees are marching to the Legislative Building this morning and visiting all 147 state lawmakers. A coalition of unions, liberal groups and social services advocates will hold what they're calling a "rally to restore good government. They plan to deliver a petition to Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and other legislative leaders asking them to end tax exemptions instead of cutting programs -- a tough political task considering voters have tied lawmaker's hands on taxes.
• Opening ceremonies are at noon after the parties caucus behind closed doors.
• Committees will hear updates on the governor's budget proposal and the status of other hot topics, like federal health care reform and changes at state liquor stores.