Breaking the mold at Washington Capitol — Sheldon bill targets dingy dome

Bill urges cleanup of Legislative Building’s filthy sandstone

Washington’s dingy Capitol dome Thursday offers contrast to this 2012 view.

OLYMPIA – Dark times have fallen on the Washington Capitol, says Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, and it’s going to take plenty of soap and water to make things white again.

Visitors to the Capitol this year have been struck by the dome’s dark pallor as a film of fungus spreads across the sandstone exterior. Sheldon Thursday introduced a bill requiring the state to adopt a comprehensive plan to control fungus, lichen and mold.

“The building is an architectural marvel,” Sheldon said. “The fungus is enough to make you sick.”

Senate Bill 6625 requires the state to study the effect of the Capitol’s grey toupee on the psyche, health and well-being of those who work in its shadow. It suggests the mold may be responsible for malaise, confusion, mental paralysis, an agitated mental state causing arguments over meaningless matters, declining mental acuity and a loss of a sense of humor.

Among other things, the bill would require that visitors be given a survey titled, “You likin’ the lichen?” They would be asked if the filth “inspires confidence in the competency of government to address problems large and small as well as in democratic ideals.”

Every legislator would be offered a guided tour to the top of the dome to see the damage being done by the encroaching fungi. And like every other legislative study, this one would be required to determine whether the creeping ick contributes to climate change.

“I hope the humor won’t be misinterpreted by those responsible for maintaining the Capitol,” Sheldon said. “The Legislative Building is a landmark for the state – a magnificent structure that inspires legislators, staff and visitors alike. But when the dome is covered in slime, what does that say about the people who work beneath?”