When COVID-19 precautions forced the Legislature into a “virtual” session, several leaders contended that would result in fewer bills being introduced, heard and debated with a focus on top priorities like the pandemic and the economy.
That was clearly wishful thinking, as the 147 legislators have at least 147 different ideas about what constitutes a top priority. It also provided fodder for any critic who wanted to question what legislators were doing and why they were doing it on that particular day in that particular way.
Along with limited time to consider bills in committees, there are added requests to testify from people Zooming in from Clarkston to Blaine and Ilwaco to Curlew.
Some bills are easy targets. Take the bill to designate a state dinosaur, the Suciasaurus, back again after failing to make its way through the 2019-20 session. It’s one of those bills that come with a cute story: a class of fourth-graders learning how government works thought it would be great to add a state dinosaur to the many other state symbols like the state flower, bird, song, waltz, flag, fossil, fish, marine mammal, oyster, amphibian, sandwich, waterfall and tree. (Yes, I made one of those up, but you’ll have to figure out which one.)
The dinosaur isn’t much to look at, just a few fossilized bones found on a beach in the San Juans. One problem with claiming it for Washington is that when the Suciasaurus was running around the Cretaceous Period chomping on herbivores, it was where California now is. Thanks to tectonic shifts, the area where the dino died and fossilized was gradually pushed north until it ended up on the beach.