The 2008 Cappy Awards: The best and worst of the Legislature

OLYMPIA – It’s over, for now.

The state’s 147 citizen legislators huffed and puffed their way through an exhausting 60 days won’t return officially until January.

They’ve gone home leaving me to sort through and dish out the 2008 Capitol Awards honoring performances, ones that are memorable and ones that are not.

Best Performance in a Majority Role: Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island

The rookie House leader on transportation scored money for U.S. 2, implanted tolling into our state psyche and advanced efforts to replace the Highway 520 floating bridge. She didn’t do it alone, but she did it in a way that people in both parties won’t forget.

Best Performance in a Minority Role: Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis

Flooding wreaked havoc on lives and properties in his district. He worked diplomatically to secure assistance they needed. For a guy known for his partisan screeds, this marked a change in tone welcomed by his Democrat adversaries.

Outstanding Male Performer: Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip

This might have been his finest legislative session. He won hard-fought passage of bills to increase powers of tribal police, notify authorities upon discovery of human remains and spread high-speed Internet access equally throughout the state.

Outstanding Female Performer: Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island

This was a tough pick. Not everyone liked her fight to keep a UW campus out of Everett. She did deliver new operating rules for ferry officials, helped land money for new boats and ensured deadly stretches of U.S. 2 and I-5 get help. She carried bills to preserve farms and wetland and expanded tax relief for seniors.

Outstanding Newcomers: Rep. Liz Loomis, D-Snohomish, Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo

They were not timid appointees. Now they have resumes to run on. Loomis pushed through tax aid for small businesses, a study of commuter rail service from Snohomish to Redmond and tougher penalties for sex offenders who don’t register. Liias won creation of a Web site for consumers, a loan fund to develop affordable housing and a tax break for small aerospace firms.

Worst Bill Introduced: Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina

His Senate Bill 6900 would have put a tax on car engines based on their horsepower. It never got a hearing, never had a chance. Folks complained loud and long to lawmakers in e-mails and phone calls. They vowed to a person not to let this one resurface.

Big Foot Award: ChangMook Sohn

The mild-mannered economic forecaster was the bearer of a very bad message in February, telling lawmakers they’d have less money to spend. That news prompted Democratic leaders to squash some bills and give others the boot.

Best Special Effects: Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle

She wanted toxins out of toys. Washington Toxics Coalition helped shine a little media light on her cause by bringing a humongous yellow rubber duck to the Capitol. They sang — “It’s so sad, why can’t you be safer” — and put it on YouTube. Her bill passed. You can see it at

Outstanding Cameo: Tyrone Willingham

Three straight losing seasons is painful enough but the UW football coach suffered another loss in the Capitol when lawmakers didn’t fork over money to fix Husky Stadium. There’s always next season.

Nice Guy Award: Rep. Bill Hinkle, R-Cle Elum

Cle Elum’s bow-tied legislator opposed a bill putting a UW campus in Everett. Yet he voted for it in committee. Why? Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter couldn’t attend that day for medical reasons. Hinkle knew Hunter backed the bill so he did as Hunter would have.

Moment of Zen award: Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds

To a room full of gun owners concerned about gun control he declared: “Inasmuch as we do have a lot of folks to testify and participate, I decided to change the format. We’re going to speak in Japanese. Those of you who cannot speak Japanese you may stay or you may leave.”

Session MVP: TVW Crew

You skipped hearings and missed hours of floor debate, but they didn’t. Carrying cameras, setting lights and hoisting boom mikes, they recorded every moment and never lost their cool. Want to relive the session — they’ve got it online and downloadable

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