Monday, June 29, 2015

Time for the game to end

At the end of a game at Fenway, there are two possible soundtracks: “Dirty Water” after a win and a humming funereal do-dah-duh-duh song. This song was probably commissioned by the Red Sox and scientifically proven to drive down blood pressure and prevent people from rioting after a particularly hideous loss. There’s been a lot more of the do-dah-duh-duh this season but after some of the ugly baseball that has been played there, just the fact that a bad game is finally over makes the do-dah-duh-duh a bit reassuring.

The General Assembly wrapped up its session without Dirty Water or the do-dah-duh-duh song — it was more of a “cluck you” as a bill about housing chickens was the proverbial final brick in a building impasse between the House and the Senate. While much of the chattering class was making farmhouse puns and bemoaning the end of the session, I thought it was actually the best possible outcome considering the way that some sessions have gone. Consider the most important bill of the session, the state budget: Governor Raimondo proposed a policy-heavy, investment rich budget and the budget articles were heard and debated over a series of weeks. The governor, speaker and senate president negotiated on specifics and adjustments were made so that the budget passed unanimously in three hours. No one got “everything” and no one looked bad. That was definitely a Dirty Water moment.

In years past, whacky things have happened in the middle of the night at the end of a session. Bills have passed without much discussion and bad laws have been created in the middle of the night because no one can think straight — forget about read legislative language — at 3 a.m. Important issues like the infrastructure plan were left on the table this year, but clearly more work, more due diligence and more research needs to be done to find the best path forward. So while a chorus of chicken littles in the media squawked that the abrupt close of session was equivalent to the sky falling, the leadership seems to be leaning toward a special session in the fall. I think that’s a good thing. Why risk a do-dah-duh-duh when you can come back and hear Dirty Water?

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