On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:
Archive for Democrats
Washington’s legislative leaders will adjourn the 2014 session Thursday, unless a special session extends the deadline. But before they go back to their districts TVW will air back-to-back live interviews with more than 20 lawmakers starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will sit down with Gov. Jay Inslee, House Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan and House Republican leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen.
Other guests include Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. The lawmakers will talk about a range of issues from education to the capital budget to the environment.
Plus, Austin Jenkins, host of TVW’s “Inside Olympia” and reporter for the Public Radio Northwest News Network, and Brian Rosenthal, a state government reporter for The Seattle Times, will stop by to talk about some highlights from the past 60 days and what to expect when the election process begins.
Coverage will be here on the blog, and you can watch live on TVW or via webcast.
As the Legislature approaches the final four days of session, Democratic lawmakers told reporters Monday they’re concerned about parts of their platform, namely disclosure of oil transportation information and the continuation of a real estate fee that raises money to house the homeless.
Lawmakers disagree over two stalled bills that address the issue of oil transportation reporting.
House Bill 2437 would require refineries to provide information to the Department of Energy about how many tank vessels and rail cars transfer or deliver oil to a refinery each week, the volume and type of oil that arrived at the facility, and the route taken by oil arriving at the facility by rail car. The bill passed out of the Democratically-controlled House, but was not heard in committee in the Senate.
A competing bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. Senate Bill 6524 would set up a study on transporting oil through over rail through the state. It passed out of committee but has not yet come up for a floor vote in the Senate.
On Monday, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, criticized Ericksen’s bill as being “just studies.” The oil freight trains “run right through Spokane, where there are schools right next to the rail,” McCoy said. He said that freight also runs through all the communities between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. ”So we need to make sure that they’re safe.”
Democrats also were concerned over the battle over Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge. The fee is a $40 surcharge on certain real estate transactions in county auditor’s offices. The fee, which is scheduled to sunset over time, is applied to building shelters and other housing.
Republican Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, introduced a bill that would extend the $40 fee for another year, which was being heard in the Ways and Means committee on Monday morning. But Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, told reporters the fee should be permanent.
“Homelessness has dropped 29 percent in the state since we’ve enacted that fee,” she said. Nelson said that making the fee permanent would mean that homelessness would not be a wedge issue.
“Where they’re in the middle every year, as we have to make a decision if we’re going to have that fee,” she said. “I believe it shouldn’t have a sunset clause.”
Nelson said a proposed tax on e-cigarettes and ending four tax breaks to help raise money for education are still in play. However, a proposal to ban certain flame retardants from children’s products, such as furniture, has stalled this year, she said.
TVW will be live starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday with interviews from the Capitol rotunda for a special mid-session edition of The Impact with host Anita Kissée. Tuesday marks a key deadline in the 2014 legislative session as lawmakers rush to meet a 5 p.m. cutoff to move bills out of the chamber of origin.
Tune in to watch interviews with Gov. Jay Inslee, Senate leaders Rodney Tom and Christine Rolfes and House leaders Pat Sullivan and Dan Kristiansen. Plus, transportation leaders will stop by to talk about the latest progress on a transportation package.
The show will also include interviews with Sen. Ann Rivers and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, and Rep. Laurie Jinkins and Rep. Monica Stonier of the House Democratic Caucus.
We’ll also cover a range of issues, including the death penalty with Rep. Jay Rodne and Rep. Reuven Carlyle, education with Rep. Ross Hunter and Rep. Bruce Chandler, labor with Rep. Matt Manweller and Rep. Mike Sells, and higher education with Sen. Barbara Bailey and Rep. Larry Seaquist.
Watch live on TVW or via webcast.
On Thursday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have details about a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2017. House Democrats introduced the minimum wage proposal at a press conference Thursday.
We also have highlights from a public hearing on a bill proposed by Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner that would offer colleges incentive funding for increasing the number of degrees awarded to students. Plus, discussion in a House committee over a 24-credit high school graduation requirement.
Watch the show below:
Washington is one of the worst states when it comes to crowded classrooms, ranking 47th in the nation, according to the organization Class Size Counts for Washington Kids.
During a press conference, Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, and Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, announced House Bill 2589 that would prioritize making K-12 class sizes smaller and lay out an implementation plan. The goal of the bill is to reduce classroom size to 17 students by the 2017 school year.
The lawmakers said the changes would cost money, but didn’t specify a funding source.
Parents and advocates with the Class Size Counts group discussed the benefits of smaller student-to-teacher ratios. They say it reduces the achievement gap between low-income and high-income communities, lowers teacher burnout and improves student performance.
Parent Katherine Jones said that if Washington doesn’t make changes soon she would consider moving her kids to another state.
“It’s just not acceptable. When you’re one of 29 students, you cannot get the attention that you need,” Jones said.
Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver the 2014 State of the State Address at noon today before a joint session of the House and Senate. TVW will air the governor’s remarks live.
Immediately following the governor’s speech, TVW will be live with the Republican perspective delivered by Sen. Randi Becker (R- Eatonville). Senators from the Majority Coalition Caucus and Republicans in the House of Representatives also will discuss their top priorities for the upcoming 60-day legislative session at a press conference.
There’s also plenty of legislative coverage online today.
Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina) and Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) will discuss the Early Start Act of 2014, which aims to increase the number of early learning programs in the state. TVW will tape the press conference and air it later.
You can see what TVW is covering by checking out the schedule online.
Washington’s legislative leaders are jumping into a new session Monday and TVW will air exclusive interviews with many lawmakers before they take their seats. You can watch it on TV or our live stream on the web.
Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will be reporting live from the Capitol from 10 a.m. to noon. Opening ceremonies begin at noon, and we’ll be back with more live interviews from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m.
We’ll start the show off at 10 a.m. with an interview with Gov. Jay Inslee, which will replay at 11:45 a.m. and 1:20 p.m.
Other guests include Senators Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, Sharon Nelson, D- Maury Island, Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, and Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. We’ll also be interviewing Representatives Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Pat Sullivan, D- Covington, Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, and Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda.
State capital reporter for The News Tribune Jordan Schrader and AP correspondent Rachel La Corte will stop by the set to discuss the key issues they anticipate will be high on the legislative agenda.
Coverage will be here on the blog, and Legislative Review will air a rundown of the events at 6:30 p.m. on TVW. The show airs every night during the session, providing a 15-minute recap of the day’s legislative highlights.
Legislative leaders from the four corners discussed the upcoming session at the AP Legislative Preview forum Thursday, with some suggesting that a supplemental operating budget may not be necessary this year.
The Legislature writes a biennial budget in odd-numbered years, and a supplemental budget in even-numbered years. In 2013, lawmakers adopted a $33.6 billion, two-year operating budget. During the recession, lawmakers had to make significant adjustments to supplemental budgets, but revenue is expected to stay flat or slightly increase in 2014.
“You could operate without a supplemental budget. There are sufficient funds,” said Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler. “We have to be very careful that we don’t create a bow wave that would go over our four-year balanced budget requirement.”
Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson and House Speaker Frank Chopp disagreed, saying there are investments that could be made this year in areas like K-12 education and mental health.
Chopp said Washington has one of the worst records in the nation for available psychiatric beds. As a result, mentally ill patients are being boarded in beds in the hallways of emergency rooms.
“That’s not right. We should do something about that,” said Chopp. “Luckily the investment we’re talking about would be fairly modest in the supplemental, but I think we need to look at that.”
Nelson said the Legislature should also see if there’s additional progress that can be made in funding K-12 education to meet McCleary requirements.
If the Legislature does adopt a supplemental budget, Schoesler said it must be “gimmick free.” He said he also wants to avoid making “random acts of kindness in K-12″ that he says won’t make a difference in the long-term.
“My concern every year when we go into supplemental budgets is that we don’t start adding to our expenditures,” said House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.
The panel also discussed issues such as pension reform, climate change, workers’ compensation, medical marijuana and transportation. Watch the full video below.
On Wednesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from a busy cutoff day — including a floor speech from House Republican Minority Leader Richard DeBolt in which he resigned his leadership post for health reasons, and heated debate on the Senate floor when Democrats attempted to revive an abortion insurance bill. Plus, floor debate over a flame retardant bill and a social networking measure.
On Monday’s “Legislative Review,” we have details from a floor debate in the House over three alcohol-related bills, including measures that would loosen restrictions for serving alcohol at day spas, dinner theaters and grocery stores. We also have highlights from a press conference in which Senate Democrats say they are willing to use the Ninth Order to bring the Washington Dream Act and Reproductive Parity Act to the floor for a vote. Plus, details from Friday night’s budget debate in the House.
Senate Democrats said they are willing to use a parliamentary tactic called the Ninth Order to force a vote on two bills on the Senate floor. Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray said he believes there are enough votes to pass the Washington Dream Act and an abortion insurance bill known as the Reproductive Parity Act.
“We have a majority of members who want these bills to pass, but the philosophical majority is not being allowed to bring these bills forward,” Murray said. He said “eventually we’re going to have to go to Ninth Order” if the Majority Coalition Caucus won’t move the bills.
The Washington Dream Act would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for state Need Grants to help pay for college. The Reproductive Parity Act would require all insurance companies in the state to provide coverage for abortions if they also cover maternity care. Both bills passed out of the House, but never received committee votes in the Senate.
Murray said by calling a press conference about the issue on Monday, he is hoping to “avoid the theater that sometimes happens around the Ninth Order.” Last year, Republicans and conservative Democrats used the Ninth Order to force a vote on GOP-backed budget.
Democrats would have to use the tactic before the end of the day Wednesday, which marks a key cutoff deadline.
“The votes are there,” Murray said. “There is no reason not to pass the legislation.”
Watch the press conference below:
On Wednesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have details on the budget proposal by House Democrats that pays for education by eliminating a number of tax breaks. We also have highlights from a joint press conference between Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood discussing the Columbia River Crossing, as well as a segment on public reaction to the House Capital budget.
Leaders of the GOP-controlled Majority Coalition say they are hopeful Senate Democrats will extend a proxy vote in the place of ailing Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood) if he is unable to be in Olympia for a close vote as the legislative session winds down.
Carrell returned home last week after symptoms from a pre-leukemia blood condition became worse. He was diagnosed with MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome, earlier this year and is currently a candidate for a bone marrow transplant.
Under Senate rules, it is allowed for somebody to vote for a member of the majority party who is sick or ill. Without Carrell, the Majority Coalition is one vote short of an actual majority.
On Wednesday, Sen. Linda Parlette (R-Wenatchee) said she was hopeful a member of the minority would step in if a vote was close.
“I’m not sure about that. It may depend on the issue. I just hope they will join us if it’s a close vote because I know that we would do the same. I think it has made us more mindful of the difference between having 24 people sitting there and 25 people sitting there. I just think that’s the professional thing to do and I honestly can’t believe anybody not doing that,” she said.
House Minority leader Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis) said he was asked on occasion to offer his vote to a member of the other party who was ill when the House was evenly split.
“It has been a good tradition,” he said.
Democratic Sen. Jim Hargrove has previously said he would serve as a proxy vote, according to KPLU.
Days away from the start of the 2013 legislative session, Senate leaders still disagree on how they will share power on committees.
Senate Republicans will control the chamber with the help of two breakaway Democrats, Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. The coalition has proposed that each party chair six committees, and co-chair three committees.
Under the proposal, Republicans would chair the most powerful committees — including the budget, education and healthcare — while Democrats would get six lower-tier committees.
At the Associated Press Legislative Preview event today, Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray said his members have voted to reject the GOP offer and they don’t intend to name chairs to the committees that the Republicans have offered.
“Offering the smaller committees to Democrats isn’t bipartisan,” Murray said.
Tom, who is the leader of the coalition, said the group is offering Democrats an “unprecedented amount of power,” and they’re still waiting for a response.
“We’re not doing this for window dressing,” said Tom. “We’re approaching this so we can have a vibrant dialogue.”
Tom said the coalition approached committee chairmanship like a business and selected the best qualified person for the job. For example, he said Sen. Andy Hill, the Redmond Republican who has been tapped to lead the budget-writing committee, holds an MBA from Harvard and is a former Microsoft executive.
Murray said he hopes both sides can “negotiate a bipartisan way to govern” before the start of session on Monday.
“We can move forward regardless of some of the complications that exist,” Murray said “The thing to focus on is the end result.”
Senate Democrats on Monday rejected a power-sharing proposal offered by the Republican-led coalition, instead offering a counterproposal that would install a co-chair from each party on all committees.
Republicans dismissed the idea, saying that having co-chairs on all committees “would be a recipe for gridlock, particularly in areas like education and the operating budget.”
Senate Republicans announced earlier this month they plan to control the chamber with the help of two breakaway Democrats, Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. The group, calling itself the Majority Coalition Caucus, will hold a 25 to 24 vote advantage.
The coalition asked Democrats to accept a power-sharing agreement that would give each party six committee chairs. Under the proposal, Republicans would chair the most powerful committees — including the budget, education and healthcare committees — while Democrats would get natural resources, agriculture, trade, financial institutions, higher education and environment.
Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray rejected that proposal, saying it’s clear the Senate is in a “virtual tie” and the committee structure should reflect that.
“We propose a structure of co-leadership and co-chairs of all committees. We would support Republicans and they would support us in a true bipartisan arrangement with true sharing of power and responsibilities,” Murray said in a statement.
Tom, who would serve as the coalition’s majority leader, and Senate Republican leader Mark Schoesler called on Democrats to cooperate.
“It is our hope that the current majority will cooperate with us to ensure a smooth handoff of leadership and allow the Senate to tackle the many pressing needs of our state from day one of the 2013 session,” Tom and Schoesler said in a joint statement.
Meanwhile, Murray and Tom exchanged letters about the upcoming session in which it is clear the two sides won’t cooperate before session. That means the GOP-led coalition will likely have to change the rules of the Senate if it wants to take control in January.
Two fiscally conservative Democrats announced today they are joining forces with Republicans to create a new “majority coalition caucus” that will control the Washington state Senate.
Democratic Senators Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Tim Sheldon of Potlatch stood with five Senate Republican leaders at a press conference Monday to explain how the new caucus will govern. Tom would serve as the new Senate majority leader, and Sheldon would be president pro tempore.
The caucus has proposed splitting power by allowing Democrats and Republicans to each chair six committees, and co-chair three committees.
The powerful budget-writing Ways and Means committee would be chaired by Republican Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond under the proposal. The K-12 education committee would be led by Republican Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island.
Tom said he believes more Democrats will join the caucus, which has pledged to govern under a set of “principles” that include creating a sustainable budget, promoting job growth and reforming education.
“The public is not looking for one-party domination,” Tom said. “They are looking for us to get away from politics and start governing.”
Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray released a statement saying that “any majority in the Senate will be an unstable one.” Democrats held a slim 26-23 majority before today’s announcement; the new caucus would hold a 25-24 majority.
“We don’t believe the Republicans’ take-it-or-leave-it plan offers the right way forward. We remain hopeful that Republicans will be open to negotiations to ensure the full functioning of the Senate,” Murray said.
On this week’s “Inside Olympia,” host Austin Jenkins talks with new Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray about the party’s tenuous majority in the state Senate and speculation about a power-sharing agreement with Republicans. Democratic Sen. David Frockt, the co-chair of a new bipartisan education committee tasked with finding solutions to McCleary, is also a guest on the show.
Newly elected Senate Democratic majority leader Sen. Ed Murray said today that if two conservative Democrats flip sides and align with the GOP to elect their own majority leader off the Senate floor, it would “poison the atmosphere” for years to come.
“It would throw out a 100 years of how the Senate has functioned,” Murray told “Inside Olympia” host Austin Jenkins.
Democrats hold a tenuous advantage in the state Senate. They will either have a 27-22 or a 26-23 majority, depending on the results of a hand recount in Clark County. Republican Don Benton is winning there by just 78 votes over Democrat Tim Probst.
Two fiscally conservative Democrats, Sen. Rodney Tom and Sen. Tim Sheldon, joined forces with Republicans over the budget in a surprise coup last session. GOP leaders have suggested the same thing could happen in the upcoming session, giving them a “philosophical majority.”
Murray said that type of majority would be too “unstable” to lead — especially given that Tom is a more socially liberal Democrat who voted in favor of same-sex marriage and is pro-choice.
“We have to function, we have to govern,” Murray said. “If someone isn’t in control, you have chaos.”
The full interview airs tonight, Nov. 29, at 7 & 10 p.m. on TVW. Also a guest on the show: Sen. David Frockt, the co-chair of a new bipartisan education committee charged with finding ways to comply with the state Supreme Court’s mandate to fully fund education.
Senate Democrats announced their leadership nominees today, with Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam picked to chair the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee.
Democrats said in a press release the budget-writing team was picked to “include differing viewpoints in a narrowly divided Senate.”
Democrats will hold a slim 26-23 advantage in the state Senate if Republican Don Benton wins a hand recount in Clark County, where he’s ahead by just 82 votes.
Two conservative Democrats, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, could shift that balance of power if they vote with the GOP on budget-related issues, as they did during a surprise coup last session.
Recognizing the partisan divide, Democrats proposed giving the minority Republican party additional seats on all policy committees, including the budget-writing and transportation committees — a move that would give Democrats just one more vote than Republicans.
Senate Democrats also proposed creating a new bipartisan education committee that will look for ways to comply with the state Supreme Court’s ruling in the McCleary case. The committee would be co-chaired by Democrat Sen. David Frockt and a Republican picked by the party’s caucus.
Democrats nominated Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Vashon Island, to serve with Hargrove as vice chair of powerful budget-writing committee.
Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, is the nominee to lead the transportation committee, with Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens as vice chair.
Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, was nominated for president pro tem. He would preside over the Senate floor if Lt. Gov. Brad Owen is unavailable.
The appointments have to be approved by the full state Senate. The complete list of Democratic nominees is here.
UPDATE: Outgoing Republican minority leader Sen. Mike Hewitt issued a statement this afternoon congratulating the nominees, but said the GOP may have “additional leadership strategies” in mind. As has been outlined in this Seattle Times story, Senate Republicans and conservative Democrats are reportedly considering a forming a coalition that would force a power-sharing agreement.
Here’s Hewitt’s statement:
“I am encouraged to see that Senate Democrats are now advocating a collaborative approach for 2013; that’s a good start. Speaking as the outgoing leader, however, I know there may be additional leadership strategies that could do a better job of delivering the ongoing reforms the public is demanding. I am confident our new Senate Republican leadership team, which will be elected tomorrow, will be meeting with their Senate Democratic counterparts to discuss how to best serve the people of Washington.”