OLYMPIA -- Washington legislators, facing what could be a contentious session, paused for reflection and senators held a moment of silence Monday for an Arizona lawmaker critically injured in a shooting spree Saturday that killed six others.
The Senate held a moment of silence for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and the 19 others who were shot. Federal prosecutors have charged the gunman with attempting to assassinate Giffords during a political event in Arizona.
And although there was no sign of heightened security on the Capitol campus in Olympia, it was on the minds of many.
State Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, a Benton County sheriff's deputy, said members discussed the shooting at the morning meeting of the House Republican Caucus. He pointed out that this was a case of one deranged individual and didn't signal a danger to elected officials.
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Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, said because the Legislature likely will be cutting budgets of many popular programs during the session to fill a $4.6 billion hole in the next two years' budget, there will be some who will be upset at the lawmakers.
House Republicans also talked in their caucus about finding a way to help the victims and their families.
"Each and every one of us agrees it was a horrific thing," Klippert said.
As small groups of people protesting various program cuts gathered in a few Capitol hallways, Washington State Patrol troopers stood quietly nearby.
A spokesman said the officers, who provide security at the Capitol, said his agency wasn't answering any questions about security or the Arizona shooting.
Hewitt, the Republican leader in the Senate, said he opposed the installation of a metal detector at the Capitol in 2004. But there was one used for a year, he said.
"I just think this is the people's house, and they should be able to come and go," Hewitt said.
But he said the Arizona shooting did make him think about his own style of dealing with constituents.
"I'm so gregarious and so open, and you have to be careful," Hewitt said.
Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, said his 28 years as a Richland police officer already had made him careful.
"I'm always trying to be aware of what's going on around me," he said.
Hewitt said people who go into politics expect to be in public and accept the risk that comes with elected office. He said he has been thinking about the young girl killed in Arizona who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and had a budding interest in politics.
"It's the people who are innocent victims that get to me," he said.
* Cathy Kessinger: 509-582-1535; firstname.lastname@example.org