You don’t have to hang out long in Olympia to see how prevalent and powerful the state agency lobbyists are, and the influence they exert on Legislators.
It’s not uncommon to see Legislators nodding with blank stares at agency heads while listening to their dizzying bureaucratic speech. State Agencies have a hypnotic drone they skillfully lure Legislators with, and lull them into signing laws that benefit the state--not the citizens.
Yesterday was different, however.
Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) is a freshman legislator with a mind like a trap. He is one of those people with an uncanny ability to listen to the hypnotic drone of bureaucrats and is seemingly unphased by their spell. In fact, he has an uncanny ability to sniff out those shaded half-truths the taxpayer-funded lobbyists say that usually make their sour arguments palatable.
Yesterday, while the House Governmental Operations Committee was being swooned by the smooth talk of a state agency lobbyist Marryanne Guichard, Manweller was preparing a single question that would undermine her entire testimony.
Here is the exchange:
Marryanne Guichard, WA Department of Health
...we are under the administrative proceedures act. We follow that, it has a lot of measures as staff has pointed out to hold us accountable including the povision for the Joint Administrative Review Committee (JARC) to review those rules. So under the existing scheme, we do try to take into account the impact to businesses and minimize that, but still protect public health and safety, and for those reasons, we have varied concerns about this bill.
[Watch TVW video here]
My question is for the Department of Health. You mentioned as a check on this the JARC committee. My question for you is, When is the last time the JARC committee met and recommended that a rule from the Department of Health be overturned, and how many times have they done that?
I’d have to refer to our rules coordinator.
She can come on up.
And she's giving me a look like she doesn't know.
Kelly Cooper, Rules Coordinator WA State Department of Health
Hi I'm Kelly Cooper. I'm with the state Department of Health, um, I actually do not recall the last time that we were before JARC, I know in ... it's been a while ...
Do you know the last time that JARC met?
2009. I'm just concerned that might not be the check and balance that we need.
[Watch the TVW video here]
Representative Manweller is quickly earning a well-deserved reputation of asking pointed, intelligent questions. It is best to come prepared if you are going to testify before him--especially if you represent a state agency.
Matt Manweller is a former board member of the Freedom Foundation.