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Productive, bipartisan, ‘kum ba yah’ Senate?

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 14, 2013 at 11:12 am |
March 14, 2013 12:28 pm

UPDATED 12:30 p.m.

Leaders of the newly Republican-dominated Senate are crowing about setting a more productive pace and working with the opposition.

Sen. Rodney Tom announces the formation of the Majority Reform Coalition, Dec. 12, 2012 (News Tribune, Peter Haley)
Sen. Rodney Tom announces the formation of the Majority Reform Coalition, Dec. 12, 2012 (News Tribune, Peter Haley)

The GOP-plus-two-Democrats coalition released figures showing the Senate has passed 276 bills so far. “It’s the most bills that have ever come out of the Senate in the last four years,”  Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, one of those two breakaway Democrats, told me a few minutes after the deadline passed Wednesday to send Senate bills over to the House.

Thirty-two percent of them, 89 bills, were introduced by Democrats, according to the tally. ” That’s more bills than any other minority has seen in recent history and well ahead of the next closest year – 2011, when 54 minority bills passed,” Republican leader Mark Schoesler said in a news release, which also quotes Tom saying: “It’s all ‘Kum ba yah’ here in the Senate.”

Democrats acknowledged the figures are correct.

Still, there are some dissenting voices on the extent of both productivity and bipartisanship.

Senate Democrats complained that some of their bills have been stifled, and they made unsuccessful procedural moves in the final days to try to dislodge two of them — Sen. Ed Murray’s proposal to give state financial aid to immigrants who are in the country illegally, and Sen. Nathan Schlicher’s proposed limits on Tacoma Narrows bridge administrative costs that were intended to hold down tolls.

Ahead of the deadline and with the numbers still not final, Democrats provided figures indicating 18 percent of the minority’s bills were approved compared to 35 percent of the majority’s bills.

On the other end of the spectrum, conservative GOP Sen. Pam Roach argued the Senate should have been even more productive, since Republicans have been waiting years to take over and have a backlog of what she says are good ideas.

Senators should have put in late nights and weekends to churn out legislation, she said.

“It was a very slow pace. (Last week,) we started at 10 and ended at 5. We didn’t work any weekends. The people expect us to be here doing their work,” the Auburn senator said. “It isn’t a badge of courage to make sure everybody’s home at night on time and getting a good night’s sleep.”

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