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Show goes on at Legislature, even if it’s a one-man show

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm with No Comments »
January 19, 2012 2:47 pm

This week’s snow and ice has reduced some legislative committees to skeleton crews.

On Wednesday, the Senate Energy, Natural Resources and Marine Waters committee approved three bills with just one member present, the chairman.

Sen. Kevin Ranker cast the only vote on the three measures, declared them approved subject to signatures, and then said: “We’re going to take a quick break while I have a caucus with myself.”

“Subject to signatures” is the key phrase. Quick civics lesson: As you might expect, one vote alone won’t pass a bill out of committee. It needs a majority of members of the committee. But they don’t have to be there for the vote; they can sign the bill later.

The other members soon showed up, and Ranker says they have signed the bills.

“The reality is these bills aren’t passed until we have the signatures on the nameplate,” he said.

The Orcas Island Democrat said he had previously talked to the members about their views on the issues.

Ranker’s isn’t the only committee to take voice votes with less than a majority of members present. Democratic Sen. Craig Pridemore‘s Government Operations committee did so today with three members after Republican Sen. Pam Roach left, hoping the lack of a quorum would block a vote on a bill.

Turns out for committee action to be halted for lack of a quorum, someone on the committee has to make a challenge. Nobody did.

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