Lessons of a Throwaway Bill (HB 1814)
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Lessons of a Throwaway Bill (HB 1814)

Centuries ago, when the colonists decided to throw off the yoke of British control, they were faced with a monumental task. Create, seemingly from scratch, a new government system that might serve the interests of the people better than most or all previous attempts. Of course, the founding families and their supporters didn’t pull ideas out of thin air. They looked to history.

Of the many gems, strategies, and faintly held hopes inculcated into our fledgling system of government, two concepts became central to our self-perception as a nation. The role of all people in determining our forward momentum (including minority groups), and the need for a balance of power within our government structures. Abrogate these core tenets, and we would have a system failure.

While researching HB 1814 (concerning the re-employment and pension service credit of public employees separated from service due to a vaccination mandate), we discovered that some bills are written without a hope in the world of becoming law. That was a surprise, as was the the increasingly unbalanced nature of our own Washington state government. According to Ballotpedia, since 1992, the Democratic Party has enjoyed a “trifecta” of power 17 times – a trifecta is when one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house.

Is this a bad thing, in a “melting pot” country like the United States of America? Maybe. Our ideological differences and requisite commitment to domestic diplomacy strengthen our nation. When one party dominates our law-making bodies, diversity pays the price.

Across the nation, we have (and have had) unbalanced state governments. Someone recently mentioned that Washington state has had the longest run of Democratic party governors in the nation (since 1985). We wondered, “Is that true?” Turns out, it’s not. Texas beats us, hands down. Just not in this century.

“Wait, wait!” You say. “I must have read that wrong?” We get it. Who thinks of Texas as a hot-spot for the Democratic Party? The answer of course depends on which version of the Democratic Party we’re talking about.

Historically, the Democratic Party was the dominant party of the slave South, the Confederate South, and the Jim Crow South. Prior to 1995, Texas had a “non-Democrat” Governor for only 19 of 149 years. Imagine the effect of that monopoly on Black Americans? Now, imagine what might have happened if Texas politics had been more balanced?

Which brings us back to Washington state’s own governors. Our state used to be brilliantly balanced! Since 1889, the executive branch in Olympia pretty much bounced back and forth, every term, between Democrat and Republican – except for two brief stretches of Republican Governors (1901-1913 and 1919-1933). Then, in 1985, Booth Gardner took office, and the governorship has been controlled by one party (the Democrats) for 38 years … and counting.

Is this good? That’s a matter of opinion! For many, that opinion depends on one’s personal political views. But what if we set “politics” aside? Objectively, with zero trifectas (political monopolies), wouldn’t there be a constant need to listen to diverse voices, consider compromise, and explore new angles? When power is balanced, people have no choice but to work together. Collaborations may be hard work, but surely … they’re worthwhile?

HB 1814 reflects the concerns, ideas, solutions, and sincere thoughts of several elected representatives who care deeply about our shared future. It’s worth your time to read it.

April 7, 2023

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loopeditor Writings and other postings by the Vashon Loop Editors