Only eight people watched from the state Senate gallery as the Senate politely discussed and then passed six bills early this evening. Two reporters, three photographers, two lobbyists and a citizen.
The House gallery was a little busier — maybe a dozen or so. And the Capitol hallways are much quieter tonight than during a regular legislative session, even though the end of the state shutdown is dependent on passage of these 12 bills.
Maybe it’s the heat that’s keeping people home and away from this sausage making.
More likely, it’s other factors.
All the sessions are streaming online, and most of the language is pretty well-known, having come, for the most part, from conference committee bills that passed in May.
And the final bills are being negotiated privately, then posted online shortly before discussion. Once the bills are introduced, no changes will be allowed. So there seems to be less arm-twisting going on, and demonstrators wouldn’t have much influence this late in the game.
“It seems like there’s one lobbyist here from each organization, but people can watch from home now,” said Scott Magnuson, director of the Senate’s information office. “And it doesn’t seem like too much of the language is new.”
That doesn’t mean people aren’t paying attention, though.
“People at home can read the language of the bills online, and then they twitter and text back and forth, without even coming here,” Magnuson said.