Notes From Olympia: April 21, Week 15 of the 2023 Legislative Session
This edition focuses on upcoming budget details, what happens after Sine Die and a look at “The Kick” of 1913.
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)
This edition of “Notes From Olympia” will serve as our final weekly newsletter, signaling the end of the 2023 legislative session.
What Is Next?
- Look for an email early next week, which will include final budget details, bill status updates and a recap of the last days of the legislative session.
- We will share an update covering Gov. Inslee’s actions mid-May.
- Our “Notes From Olympia” will continue periodically during the interim to keep you abreast of early learning policy developments.
Which Governor was associated with “The Kick” incident in 1913?
Conference reports for the2023-25 biennial budgets will be released by Saturday of this week and voted upon prior to legislative adjournment. Specifically, the Operating budget details will be released Saturday, April 22, at noon. Because these actions will occur after this week’s newsletter publication, we plan to send out an email early next week including the final budget details as well as a recap of the last days of the legislative session. When completed, the budget summary will be available on Start Early Washington’s resource page.
With the Legislature poised to adjourn “Sine Die” Sunday, April 23, this week focused on finalizing actions on outstanding bills while budget writers and the amazing staff worked to put together the Operating, Capital and Transportation budgets.
As of this writing, only one active early learning related bill has not advanced to the Governor’s desk – 2SHB 1550, related to Transitional Kindergarten. We will include a status update in a post-session email. You can also check the status of specific legislation on the legislative website or via Start Early Washington’s bill tracker on our resource page.
As a reminder, you can track the status of gubernatorial bill signings on this webpage. The final day for Governor Inslee to act on bills that reach his desk is May 16.
After gubernatorial action, attention turns to state agencies as they start implementing the policies and related funding included in the enacted bills. Implementation planning can take weeks to months, depending on the issue or program and the extent external parties are involved in development. Additionally, state agencies are beginning to develop decision packages outlining their policy and funding priorities for the 2024 legislative session. The legislative cycle is always in motion!
“The Kick” incident involved Governor Ernest Lister and First Lady Mary Alma Lister. This is the same Governor Lister mentioned in last week’s newsletter who moved his family out of the Governor’s mansion due to the home’s frigid temperatures.
Governor Ernest Lister (1870-1949)
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
Governor Lister, a Democrat from Tacoma, was elected in 1912 by fewer than 1,000 votes. At the time of his election, the State Senate comprised 25 Republicans, 8 Democrats, 8 Progressives and one Independent. The House held 48 Republicans, 30 Progressives, 18 Democrats and one Socialist. In the House, the 18 Democrats joined with the 48 Republicans to elect a Republican speaker as the Democrats felt they shared more in common with the Republicans than the Progressives. From the start of his term, Governor Lister faced a rocky relationship with the Legislature, identifying more with the Progressives’ agenda than his fellow Democrats. (Note for future trivia – it would be interesting to look at when our state stopped electing candidates from the Progressive Party).
So, what was “The Kick?” First, some backstory. In the early 1910s, the funding and building of highways became a prominent issue as more Washingtonians purchased automobiles. During the 1913 legislative session, the Legislature and Governor could not reach agreement on the level of funding needed to address the growing demand for roads (sound familiar?).
In late February 1913, the Legislature passed a $1.5 million levy for road construction which the Governor promptly vetoed. An effort to override the Governor’s veto failed. At this point, it was Day 54 of the legislative session and legislative leadership wanted to deliver a highway funding bill to the Governor as soon as possible so the Governor would be forced to act on the bill before the Legislature left town. (Annual legislative sessions did not begin until 1980; in 1913, sessions were only 60 days long).
This is where it gets interesting. Remember, this was the time of actual paper delivery. After both chambers passed a new road funding bill between 5 – 6 p.m., an attempt to deliver it to the Governor’s office was thwarted as his office door was locked. That evening, a legislative ball was scheduled and legislative leadership hatched a plan to deliver the bill during the event. The Governor attended the ball – briefly – but dodged the delivery. (By now, you may have an image of someone avoiding a subpoena).
Next, the House Speaker directed the Chief Clerk of the House and the Chair of the Highway Committee to attempt delivery at the Governor’s mansion that same evening. When they arrived at the home, First Lady Mary Alma Lister answered the door and said the Governor was unavailable. The Chief Clerk and Committee Chair made a few more attempts, finally dropping the bill inside the mansion when Mrs. Lister answered the door. Mrs. Lister promptly responded by kicking the bill out of the house and it landed on the front porch. Hence “The Kick,” which spawned an editorial cartoon by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
(Photo Credit: Washington State Archives)
Governor Lister did consider the bill delivered, and he took to the Senate Floor the following day to issue a veto and to chastise the Chief Clerk and Committee Chair for their rude demeanor toward his wife, using some choice words for the time. However, after the Speaker retorted with criticism of the Governor, the parties settled down to negotiate a compromise resulting in a $1.25 million highway appropriations bill. It is important to note that this package included funding for the Snoqualmie Pass (!), but Governor Lister did veto money for the Columbia River Bridge in Vancouver, an ongoing topic of discussion to this day.
I specifically included this “end-of-session” related trivia because it encapsulates many themes discussed in the past few newsletters — leveraging legislative rules to one’s advantage, heated tempers and ultimate compromise. Happy Sine Die!
(Photo Credit: Washington State Archives)
Sources: History of the Washington Legislature 1856-1963 by Don Brazier, Wikipedia and Washington State Archives.
A Parting Construction Update …
It was both fitting and symbolic that workers made significant progress in demolishing the Irv Newhouse Building this week. The new, larger building should be open at the end of 2024.
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About the Author
Director, Policy & Advocacy, Start Early Washington
Erica Hallock serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for Start Early Washington. She has worked in early childhood, health and human services policy in both California and Washington state.More About Erica
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