Members stand as a State Patrol Color Guard brings in the U.S. and Washington flags at the start of the opening-day floor session in the House of Representatives. (Photos courtesy of Legislative Support Services Photo Department)
The 63rd Washington State Legislature opened its 60-day 2014 session Monday with remarks of bipartisanship and hard work by members on both sides of the aisle. The Senate and House met in their respective chambers, with both Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who presides over the Senate, and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp calling upon members to work diligently and cooperatively in the days to come.
“We have a choice,” Chopp said. “We can either choose to ignore or make progress on critical issues of our time…Life is short, and so is this session. Let’s get to work!”
As Sen. Adam Kline (left) stands by, new Sen. Brian Dansel addresses his fellow members on the Senate floor.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman was on hand in the Senate to give certificates of election to Sens. Jan Angel (26th District), Sharon Brown (8th District) and Brian Dansel (7th District), who won elections last fall to fill unexpired terms for those Senate seats.
The first day of session saw speedy action on the so-called Washington Dream Act (House Bill 1817), as the House passed it 71-23 after also approving in in 2013. Senate leaders in the GOP-led majority coalition indicated the measure isn’t likely to pass this session.
No bills were passed on the Senate floor on the opening day, but there was unanimous support among senators for the Seahawks to beat the 49ers in next Sunday’s NFC championship game in Seattle. Owen, a super-fan who is presiding officer, invited senators to wear Seahawks regalia on Friday.
Although lawmakers are not facing a budget shortfall this year, there are many issues for them to consider, including a new transportation package, education funding, an increased focus on mental health and disability care, unemployment and income inequality. They also are receiving two competing initiatives that deal with gun background checks, I-591 and I-594, although the Legislature is expected to let both measures go to the statewide ballot next fall.
Gov. Jay Inslee will give his State of the State Address to a joint session of the House and Senate Tuesday at noon in the House Chamber. TVW will air the address live.