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Pickleball, dinosaurs, and a state nickname: Lawmakers weigh trio of lighthearted bills

Jan 26, 2022, 10:45 AM
Bills, pickleball...
Could pickleball soon become Washington's official state sport? (Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

During this short legislative session, Washington lawmakers are working to prioritize bills related to a variety of crucial topics. Among the bills under consideration, though, are a handful of more lighthearted proposals.

4th-graders help renew push to get Washington a state dinosaur

State sport

One such proposal is a bill seeking to make pickleball Washington’s official state sport, having already garnered bipartisan support among its 10 sponsors.

Pickleball’s origins can be traced back to former Washington Rep. Joel Pritchard, who was said to have come up with the sport with businessman Bill Bell while at the Congressman’s Bainbridge Island home in 1965. As the story goes, Pritchard and Bell were searching for badminton equipment, but when they couldn’t find enough rackets for a game, they used ping-pong paddles and a plastic ball instead.

“At first they placed the net at badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net,” the USA Pickleball website reads. “As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and soon the net was lowered to 36 inches.”

After inviting their friend Barney McCallum to try out at the game on Pritchard’s property the next weekend, the trio drafted a set of rules, kickstarting decades of growth for the sport as it spread across the globe.

Lawmakers sponsoring SB 5615 are looking to honor the legacy of pickleball’s creators, “and recognize the Washingtonians who created, popularized, and continue to enjoy this sport.”

The bill was approved by the Senate’s State Government & Elections Committee in mid-January, and was scheduled for a second reading in the Rules Committee days later, where it still sits. Should it pass out of the Rules Committee, it would be placed on the calendar for a full vote in the state Senate.

State dinosaur

The push to make the Suciasaurus rex Washington’s official dinosaur dates back years, having failed to gain traction in past legislative sessions. Now, HB 1067 has been reintroduced as part of the 2022 session, as its bipartisan sponsors maintain hope that this may finally be the year it crosses the finish line.

The Suciasaurus rex is named after the first and only dinosaur fossil found in Washington state, at Sucia Island State Park in the San Juans in 2012. The fossil itself is a portion of a left femur of a theropod, a bipedal class of dinosaurs that includes the likes of the Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, and more. Experts aren’t certain which specific theropod it belongs to, but predominant evidence points to a Daspletosaurus, a close, smaller relative to the T-rex.

The Suciasaurus rex is not believed to have originated in Washington state, and some scientists theorize that the Suciasaurus rex actually originated somewhere around California, later hitching a ride on a portion of the western edge of North America that was eventually displaced to British Columbia in the Late Cretaceous period.

Washington would join 12 other states in having a designated state dinosaur, including: Arizona (Sonorasaurus); Arkansas (Arkansaurus); California (Augustynolophus); Colorado (Stegosaurus); Connecticut (Dilphosaurus); Maryland (Astrodon); Missouri (Hypsibema missouriensis); New Jersey (Hadrosaurus); Oklahoma (Acrocanthosaurus); Utah (Utahraptor); Wyoming (Triceratops); and Texas (Paluxysaurus). Washington, D.C., also has its own official dinosaur, aptly dubbed the Capitalsaurus.

HB 1067 got close to passing in 2021, after getting moved out of committee and placed in the Rules Committee. For the 2022 session, it retained in its previous status, and will again be sent to the Rules Committee for consideration.

State nickname

Washington is widely known as the “Evergreen State,” and this session, lawmakers are looking to make it official by designating that the official state nickname with SB 5512.

Washington was first dubbed the Evergreen State by Seattle realtor C.T. Conover in 1889, just months after it became the 42nd state in the Union.

Legislative session kicks off with packed agenda, virtual testimony

“C.T. Conover was a former newspaperman who had gone into real estate,” KIRO Newsradio historian Feliks Banel describes. “To drum up business from out of town, he and his business partner Samuel L. Crawford commissioned a booklet extolling the virtues of this verdant, lush, and forested wonderland.”

“Early Seattle historian Frederic Grant wrote the copy for the booklet, but Conover came up with the title: ‘Washington, The Evergreen State and Seattle, Its Metropolis,'” he added.

Despite the nickname circulating widely, it was never legally adopted by the state. Republican State Sen. Jim Honeyford introduced a bill to do just that in 2009, although it failed to pass at the time. Honeyford is one of seven sponsors on 2022’s iteration, which has already been placed on a second reading in the Senate Rules Committee.

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Pickleball, dinosaurs, and a state nickname: Lawmakers weigh trio of lighthearted bills