Where's the Emergency?
The Washington state legislature's intentional use of emergency clauses to avoid citizen initiatives became clear in the following exchange between State Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside) and State Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent). It occurred on January 27 at a Senate hearing concerning the addition of an emergency clause to SB 5097, requiring that 15 percent of total labor hours on state public works projects estimated to cost $1 million or more be performed by apprentices:
Senator Honeyford: "If it's already in existence, then what is the emergency? I see nothing here that's for the public health, safety, peace, support of state government. It's already in existence, so I think we abuse the emergency clause thing, and I think this is another example."
Senator Keiser: "It's unfortunate, but the legislative intent has been several times revoked by actions following the legislature's adjournment through various devices that are now available. I think if we don't have an emergency clause on controversial bills like this, that we will find the same kind of practice being utilized, and I think we need to make, as a legislature, our intent not only clear, but effective."
Senator Honeyford: "With that discussion, it seems like then that this emergency clause is to abrogate, I guess, the rights of citizens to bring some further actions if they're opposing this, and I think that is wrong when we shut out the citizens from the process."
-- Jason Mercier