2009 Cappys honor legislators and unforgettable moments

Tonight, with the ceremony of simultaneous gavel dropping in the House and Senate chambers, the 2009 Legislature will come to an end.

Most members are plotting their escape from Olympia before the sun rises Monday.

Even when they are gone, the last 105 days they spent here will not be forgotten. Before everyone leaves, I want to hand out the 2009 Cappys, an award created to honor stand-out performers and unforgettable moments.

Most Valuable Democrat

Rep. Kelli Linville of Bellingham: In her rookie session as House budget writer, she performed with the calm and cool of a veteran. Despite constant pressure, she kept intact her smile and her signature mode of making lobbyists walk with her round and round the Capitol’s third floor if they wanted a meeting.

Runner-up: Sen. Rodney Tom of Medina. When thrust into the media spotlight, the Senate budget committee vice chairman made sense of all of those numbing numbers.

Most Valuable Republican

Rep. Skip Priest of Federal Way: He could have been the state schools chief. Instead he spent hundreds of hours helping redraw the schematic of public school operations. If he finds money to translate that paper into practice he’ll be knighted.

Runner-up: Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield. Another year of reasonable suggestions ignored from this ranking minority member of the Senate budget committee.

Most Disappointed Lawmaker

Rep. Eric Pettigrew of Seattle: He pushed for a sales tax hike in the name of children and for unions at child care centers in the name of underpaid workers. He got neither.

Runner-up: Rep. Hans Dunshee of Snohomish. He lost his bids for Ways and Means chairman and Democratic caucus leader. He’s still hoping his $3 billion bond can pass.

Second Runner-up: Everyone else.

Rodent Of The Year

Olympic marmot: Another creature is gaining beloved status in this state. Lawmakers named the Olympic marmot the Official Endemic Mammal of Washington. Those squirrels will never be looked at the same way again.

The “Big Hurt” Award

Organized labor: Union members had hands slapped, wallets picked and e-mails investigated. Will they remember in 2010?

Best Bill Buried

Pet remains: Seattle Sen. Ken Jacobsen — who else — wanted owners of dogs and cats to be able to spend eternity with the cremated remains of their canine or feline. The Senate killed it, but it could rise from the dead next year.

Children’s Choice Award

Rep. Ruth Kagi: The Lake Forest Park Democrat fought for teaching of children, mentoring of young parents and reforming the state’s child welfare system in a groundbreaking yet orderly fashion.

Rookie Of The Year

Rep. Matt Shea of Mead: Only one of this Republican’s bills passed the House and it isn’t going to the governor. Democrats think he suffers from irritable quote syndrome. He brings clarity of conservative principles to the caucus, a voice for the common man in floor debate and a spark of energy for the party in 2010.

Runner-up: Rep. Mike Hope of Lake Stevens. The local Republican bullied his way against veteran Democrats to pass a law targeting those who assault children.

Best Protest

Tea party: Five-thousand people showed up at the Capitol and shouted “No More Taxes.” Eight days later Democrats dropped plans for a sales tax and income tax. Enough said.

Outstanding Cameo

Mike McCready: When the Pearl Jam guitarist testified how Crohn’s disease changed his life it helped change the law. Now those afflicted with gastrointestinal disorders can gain emergency access to businesses’ private restrooms.

(Al)Most Prescient Award

Marty Brown: Asked on day three of the session if building a college in Snohomish County would qualify for federal stimulus dollars, the governor’s senior adviser said: “That’s shovel-ready because they’re burying it.” (On the 103rd day, lawmakers pledged to put the state’s next university in the county.)

The “Senator Shotgun” Award

Sen. Pam Roach: She’s genetically wired for outrageous. On a bill dealing with marauding dogs, she told how she grabbed a gun, while still in pajamas, to chase a dog that raided her chicken coop. She described the carnage: “Legs and heads all thrown all over” And her restraint: “I would have been in my right to shoot the thing. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it.”

Must Play To Win

Lottery bore you? MegaMillions, too? Hang on because Washington is on track to join 29 other states in the Powerball syndicate. Lawmakers are searching for dollars and view Powerball as a source for millions, assuming we all play.

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