Committee Days. They may as well be called the red headed stepchild of the legislative process.
Right on the heels of the election, smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, and just before legislative session kicks off, it would be easy to overlook them.
However, Committee Days (11/28-11/30 this year), are something to keep an eye out for. The purpose is fairly straight forward: Formally bring all new and incumbent legislators together in Olympia to receive their committee assignments, based upon previously submitted requests by legislators to leadership, for the upcoming session.
Mixed into this is also an orientation of sorts for new legislators and staff as well initial gatherings for each committee. While no bills have dropped yet, this offers the opportunity for work sessions on issues that are likely to be brought up during session, as well as reports from task forces and workgroups that have been working since the close of last session.
The real action though is happening behind closed doors.
This is the time when strategy comes into the mix – deciding who will serve as committee chairs, who is being groomed for leadership positions down the road, balancing party representation on committees and, by doing so, potentially laying out the direction the upcoming session will take. These subtle shifts can have significant implications on the direction the legislature and the work advocacy groups, such as LEV, can accomplish this session.
In addition, these three days provide legislators and advocates a unique time to re-establish relationships with each other and talk candidly about issues without the pressure of specific bills and budgets looming overhead.
For many, this is when the real work begins, almost two months before the session! Look for a recap of the activity, shifts in committee placements and LEV’s take on what that means for Washington’s students next week.