Here at the Bus we’re all about educating. And we know that lots of people are kinda fuzzy about the whole Legislature thing. After all, that’s part of why we’re here, right, to tell you good people what’s going on down thurr in Oly… or up if you’re from Vancouver… or over if you’re from Walla Walla or Aberdeen…

Um, anyhow, part of making sense of anything is knowing what to call it. We’d write a glossary up ourselves but we’re too busy to be bothered, durn it. Instead we’d like to point you towards this useful, informative piece from our friends at the Tacoma News Tribune:

more below the jump

With the Washington state Legislature convening in regular session Monday, we may begin hearing words and phrases that are unfamiliar to the average resident.

As a public service, here is a glossary of some of those terms in hopes of helping voters and taxpayers follow the sometimes-complicated goings on in the Legislative Building in Olympia.

Committees – Groups of senators or representatives who take perfectly good legislative ideas and render them unrecognizable and ineffective. This process is known as “perfecting.”

Caucus – Members of a legislative body who are divided by a common party.

Bicameral – What the Washington Legislature is, as opposed to legislatures that are heterocameral and homocameral.

Effective Date – The date a bill, once passed, becomes law (as opposed to when a law becomes effective which is oftentimes never – see above).

Engrossed Bill – Any bill having to do with unappealing issues such as animal husbandry, sewage treatment and campaign finance reform.

Ethics – What your side has.

Conflict of Interest – What the other side has.

Governor – The state’s top elected official, who proposes budgets she doesn’t support and supports tax increases she doesn’t propose.

Senate Majority Leader – Person who leads Senate Democratic members, at least until she runs for governor.

Speaker of the House – Person on House floor who speaks the least.

Speaker Pro Tem – Person on House floor who speaks the fastest.

Majority Whip – Person who tries to round up the votes of majority party members on important issues, like the budget and when to break for lunch.

Call to order – What the majority whip does to arrange for lunch delivery.

Minority Leader – Person who leads the party with the fewest members. He or she tries to present opposing viewpoints when not doing Sudoku.

Minority Whip – Device used on former state Rep. Richard Curtis in Spokane hotel rooms.

Flash Calendar – See above.

Grandfather Clause – Santa’s dad.

Hearing – Where legislative committees do their work.

Listening – What rarely happens at legislative hearings.

Pages – Young people, usually high school students, who learn about the Legislature while running errands. Are considered equally powerful as the minority party.

Interns – Young people, usually college students, who work long hours for little pay. Are considered more powerful than the minority party.

Lobbyist – Person hired by special interests to advocate for passage of legislation and to keep legislators from ever picking up a check.

Motion – A request that the House or Senate take a certain action. Never to be mistaken for progress.

Joint Committee – Special legislative committee that will consider House Democrats’ bills to legalize marijuana.

Refer – Motion to send bills to the Joint Committee.

Re-Refer – When the Joint Committee holds onto legislation too long. Also known as bogarting a bill.

Special session – What is convened when the Legislature does not finish its work on time or when members are suffering from low self-esteem.

Sponsor – Legislators who introduce a bill or the special interest group that paid to get them elected.

Per Diem – Latin term for daily allowance paid to legislators for living expenses. Actual translation is: “And still they never pick up a check.”

Press Corps – Reporters who cover the Legislature on a daily basis. Not to be confused with press corpse.

Approach the Bar – What legislators do when lobbyists forget to close their bar tabs.

Sine Die – Another Latin term used for the final day of any session. Actual translation is: “We’ve done enough damage for one year.”

Striking Amendment – An amendment that either replaces all language in underlying bill or an amendment that is especially attractive.

Bill – Name of guy who calls lobbyists’ offices asking for campaign contributions.

Veto – Name of guy who shows up at lobbyists’ offices if their campaign contribution checks are late.

WAC – What Veto does to lobbyists whose campaign contribution checks are late.

RCW – Acronym for Restricted Club of Washington, what the UW will be after yet-another round of higher education budget cuts.

Relieved – Emotion felt by voters when Legislature adjourns.

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657



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