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Only option was to walk away from meeting

I appreciate John Fannin's kind words for me in his March 2 column. I also agree there are "other ways to express displeasure than simply leaving a Senate meeting."

I know because I tried other means, which were disregarded; leaving the hearing proved the most effective.

The meeting was the Senate Environment, Water and Energy Committee's final opportunity to consider Senate bills this session. It began at 8 a.m. on a Monday. This is relevant because substitute versions of two bills on the voting agenda were not e-mailed to members until 12:45 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. the previous day (a Sunday - we weren't in session that day).

These late substitutions conflicted with the committee's procedures and didn't allow adequate time to study those substitutes or prepare amendments. This compressed time frame also didn't allow the public to provide comments on the changes.

I objected but the votes took place. Then the committee chairman, without warning, brought up a bill that had received a hearing but was not on the voting agenda. Again I objected, to no avail.

The final straw came when the chairman ordered a public hearing on a bill that was not on the agenda. I protested; the chairman replied he'd decided "over the weekend" to hear the bill.

Voicing my objections had consistently failed, so in silent protest I left the meeting. This action was productive; the chairman later apologized to me. Most Washingtonians want - and expect - lawmakers to work together in a bipartisan manner, and the public has a right to open and transparent government. To uphold this obligation, walking out of the committee meeting that day became my only option.

/s/ Senator Jim Honeyford, Sunnyside


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