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Across Our State

Winter in Washington

All across our state winter has fallen! The signs are evident. It's white and cold outside. The roads are rutted and alternately slick and slushy.

Chains (if you can find them and you must carry them) are in use on back roads and on the mountain passes. Gloves and boots must be found in pairs before venturing out. Parents and teachers spend half the outdoor time helping the smaller children protect against the icy blast. Troopers spend their time investigating spin-outs and fender-benders. We are all inconvenienced.

It's the continual news topic in western Washington as unusual amounts of snow have been dumped on unprepared commuters and school bus drivers. Every weekday this year there have been school closures and delays listed on the morning newscasts and the students are beginning to worry about making up the school days in the summer.

The businesses that after Christmas traditionally sell off their supply of winter clothing have happily sold out this year. Some businesses have suffered because of travel worries.

Farmers appreciate the build-up of frozen water in the mountains. So do those who ski and otherwise play in the snow. We take the positive with the negative.

Almost forgotten this winter because of the cold and snow was the opening of the 60th legislative session. No one bothered to explain that sessions are counted every two years even though they meet every year. In our past they met every other year.

Now the session after election is the budget-making time and meets 105 days (and sometimes nights). The next year legislators supposedly just adjust some parts of the budget and meet only 60 days.

So this is the year when people come from across the state to ask for money. Some requests are worthy, some are not, but they all are heard. There are no snow days here or delays because of weather. The Senators and Representatives were in session even on Monday, a national holiday. They are here a certain amount of time to conduct the people's business. Every day is full of meetings and committee hearings. Most evenings there are bills to read, testimony to consider, and receptions to attend. There are new people to meet, old friends to see, and a plethora of ideas to explore. Even though the work load is tremendous, the mental stimulation is exciting.

When the roads are safer for travel, I encourage you to come see the people who represent you, listen to the committee hearings, and participate in your government. You can access the schedules at leg.wa.gov or you can call Sen. Jim Honeyford's office at (360) 786-7684. We love to see people from home, and it will give you something to think about besides the winter weather!

Jerri Honeyford, wife of Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), provides her "Across Our State" column to keep local readers informed on what is currently occurring in Olympia.

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