Honeyford presides over Senate during first full day of voting

OLYMPIA… Sen. Jim Honeyford made his initial appearance Monday evening as presiding officer of the state Senate since his election earlier this year as Senate vice president pro tempore.

“It was an honor to help conduct the people’s business from a new vantage point – the front of the Senate chamber – and I look forward to serving in this role more as we go throughout the session,” said the Sunnyside Republican, who has had several other leadership roles during 22 years as a legislator.

Honeyford presides when neither the lieutenant governor, who doubles as president of the Senate, nor the Senate’s president pro tempore, who like Honeyford is a member of the Senate’s majority coalition, is available. He was chosen for the post by the Senate on the opening day of the 2017 legislative session.

Monday was the first day set aside solely for voting in the Senate chamber this year, and it wasn’t long before the Senate president pro tem handed the gavel to Honeyford. Over the next 90 minutes he presided over the passage of more than a half-dozen pieces of legislation, before returning to his desk on the floor of the Senate chamber to ask for support of a bill he had introduced.

“This was a great opportunity to get a feel for the flow of the debates and the voting. The full Senate has a limited number of days to act on bills, and the presiding officer needs to keep legislation moving through efficiently,” said Honeyford.

The first bill brought for a vote after Honeyford took the gavel was a measure having to do with the collection of blood samples for the purpose of determining an alcohol or drug content. Two senators changed their votes during the roll call on the bill, which is unusual – requiring them to stand and be called upon by Honeyford. During debate on the following bill, two other senators had their microphones quit temporarily, leading Honeyford to call a timeout after the vote while the audio system was rebooted.

“It’s important to make sure every senator who wishes to speak and vote in accordance with our rules is able to do so,” he said.

The Senate has until 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 8 to act on legislation that received committee approval and are not budget-related bills that are exempt from session deadlines.