Awards ceremony honors ‘epic fails’ of 2021 legislative session
OLYMPIA – The new income tax passed by majority Democrats in the Washington Legislature earned top honors in the first annual Galloping Gertie Awards, presented by the Senate Freedom Caucus to honor the biggest fails of the 2021 legislative session.
The income tax earned the Gertie for Worst New Tax in a Leading Role to Promote Big Government, and picked up two special awards for its sponsors, legislative Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee, who advanced the new tax during the just-finished legislative session.
The awards are named for “Galloping Gertie,” the famed state-highway bridge that briefly crossed the Tacoma Narrows before it collapsed in a 1940 windstorm. A recording of the Wednesday awards ceremony can be seen on TVW, at https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2021041339.
Lawmakers concluded their 105-day regular session Sunday evening after passing an unconstitutional income tax, measures that impose state government control on local law enforcement agencies, and precursor bills for steep new taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. Lawmakers are expected to be called back for a special legislative session on transportation later this year, for final passage of those fuel taxes and others.
“It was the most radical agenda Washington has ever seen, and this was a dizzying session,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who hosted the Wednesday awards ceremony. “It was just as dizzying as Galloping Gertie, the state’s biggest-ever engineering blunder. Those of us in the Senate Freedom Caucus realized we really should do something to recognize everyone who made this nightmare possible.”
Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, said, “We’re calling this the ‘first annual’ Galloping Gertie Awards. But honestly, we would be very happy if we never have to hold an awards ceremony like this one again.”
Other presenters were Sens. Jim McCune, R-Graham, Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, and Jeff Wilson, R-Longview.
Wilson said, “It was as if the Seattle City Council got itself elected to the Legislature and decided the rest of the state should share in the benefits of chaos and dysfunction.”
Padden said, “Taking all these bills together, this was a great session for economic development in Idaho and Montana.”
McCune said, “We’re trying to see the humor in this year’s session. But when the people understand what happened this year, I don’t think anyone is going to be laughing.”
The new income tax on capital gains, likely to be expanded to the middle class if it survives court challenges, earned the special False Narrative Award for legislative Democrats. For his work in promoting the new tax, after an election promise to oppose all new taxes, Gov. Jay Inslee was awarded the Suzi Levine Award for Executive Branch Excellence.
A tie was awarded for the Green Delusions Award for Worst Legislation in the Name of the Environment. Honors went to this year’s legislation creating cap and trade and low-carbon fuel standards programs, which could increase the cost of a gallon of gas by $2 or more.
The Worst Legislation on Public Safety award went to the majority’s “Blake Fix” bill, which addresses the state Supreme Court’s decision overturning drug laws, by turning former felony charges into simple misdemeanors. The special Handcuffs for Law Enforcement Award went to this year’s legislation imposing restrictions on police tactics, which could force escalation.
Majority Democrats also were honored with the Silence of the Mask Award, for running their sweeping agenda through the statehouse at a time when the public was excluded from the Capitol due to COVID restrictions, and for their disinterest in the top issue for the people of the state, bringing balance and reason to lockdown restrictions and getting the state back to work.
Nominees for the Missed Opportunities Award included multiple failures to pass property tax relief, tough DUI legislation, sensible approaches to transportation funding and tax incentives for manufacturers. All were declared winners.