Updated:Washtucna students to see their bill become law (w/gallery)


OLYMPIA -- Washtucna teacher Janet Camp says it all started with a civics lesson.

That project -- having 29 Washtucna School District students draft a bill for the Washington Legislature -- comes full circle today, when Gov. Jay Inslee visits Franklin County to declare Palouse Falls the state's official waterfall.

"We're really excited," said Camp, who teaches fifth- and sixth-graders. "Who would have known, after everything we've done, that just by asking -- and it happened to work out -- (the governor) decided to come."

Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, visited Camp's students last fall and agreed to sponsor their Palouse Falls bill.

Camp said the school worked through Schmick to request that Inslee sign House Bill 2119 at Palouse Falls State Park after it passed unanimously.

The Palouse River plunges 198 feet over a jagged canyon wall just four miles from the confluence with the Snake River.

Students watched the bill's progress during the legislative session, as well as wrote letters and testified at House and Senate committee hearings.

"I was very proud of them," Schmick told the Herald at the end of the legislative session. "They worked really hard at that. I was honored that they allowed me to work with them to get that done."

"This whole thing -- every little milestone -- we have celebrated along the way," said Camp. "Everything has just been a celebration, because we never knew how far we would get."

Camp said all of the district's almost 70 K-12 students will attend the ceremony, where Inslee will read the bill and speak before signing it.

The 29 third- through sixth-graders who drafted the legislation also will participate in an official photo of the signing, scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Camp said students from other schools, including LaCrosse, Kahlotus, and Benje, also are planning to come.

About 150 to 200 people, as well as parents and community members, are expected to attend.

Before the ceremony, Inslee also plans stops in Columbia and Franklin counties, visiting the town of Dayton and eating lunch in Starbuck.

-- Tri-City Herald intern Matt Benoit is a Washington State University student: 509-947-9277, mbenoit@tricity herald.com; Twitter: @Matt_Benoit_

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