Washington lawmaker suggests ways to keep Legislative session on track

File Image

Sen. Brad Hawkins wants to modernize the legislative session  schedule to help lawmakers make the most of their limited time at the state Capitol. He plans to spark the discussion by filing two measures in December, ahead of the 2018 legislative session.

One proposal would simply change state law to move each session’s opening day to the first Monday of February, instead of the second Monday in January.

Hawkins said the delay would help avoid three weeks of poor travel conditions in the Cascades for citizens who visit Olympia to see their legislators or lawmakers from Eastern Washington who travel back home to see their constituents on weekends.  The change would create more transition time for newly elected members between the time results are certified after the November election and when the new lawmakers begin the session.

Hawkins’ second idea, a Senate joint resolution, would remove “consecutive” from language of the state constitution that defines the Legislature’s regular session as 60 or 105 consecutive days.  Under the current structure,  the 60 or 105 consecutive day clock continues to run on weekends.  The practice effectively costs the Legislature about 30 of the workdays allotted during a 105 day legislative session and contributes to overtime or special sessions when lawmakers don’t complete their work in the allotted timeframe.