Sen. Ed Murray elected the new Senate majority leader

By | November 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Sen. Ed Murray

Seattle Democrat Sen. Ed Murray will be the new Senate majority leader. He replaces Sen. Lisa Brown, who decided not to run for re-election after holding the leadership post for the last eight years.

Murray is fresh off the victory of Referendum 74, which grants same-sex couples the right to marry in Washington state.

Murray is a longtime advocate of gay and lesbian rights, and he was the prime sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill that voters approved last week. He’ll be the first openly gay majority leader in the state’s history.

Murray was first elected to the state House in 1995. He’s served in the state Senate since 2006, where he chairs the budget-writing committee. In an uncontested election, Senate Democrats chose Murray to serve as majority leader at a private caucus meeting today.

Here is Murray’s statement about the position:

“We have work to do in Olympia – prioritizing education, creating jobs for the middle class, and ensuring Washingtonians have the health care they need. And one of our challenges in a closely divided chamber is to ensure that the Senate is able to fulfill its obligation to govern the state, in tandem with Gov.-elect Jay Inslee and the House. These are not simple challenges, but they are solvable. We can find solutions that work for all of Washington.”

Sen. Lisa Brown released a statement congratulating Murray. “Under Sen. Murray’s leadership, the Democratic Caucus is well-positioned to continue to provide support for the people of Washington,” she said.

UPDATED: Senate passes same-sex marriage bill, 28-21

By | February 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

With Gov. Chris Gregoire and his partner of 21 years standing behind him in the wings, Sen. Ed Murray asked his fellow lawmakers in the state Senate to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. “I realize this is a difficult personal issue because it is about family, and at the heart of family is marriage,” Murray said.

Other senators shared their personal stories, at times getting emotional. Republican Sen. Dan Swecker said he was opposed to changing the definition of marriage. In response, Sen. Debbie Regala said when she married her husband 44 years ago, the ban on interracial marriage had just been lifted. “I am really glad that the definition of a legal marriage has been changed to include mine,” Regala said.

Sen. Kevin Ranker said his father is gay, and many people in his own family refused to accept it. “People dealt with my father’s life by ignoring it, by not talking about it. This silence was worse than outspoken hatred,” he said in an emotional speech.

Republican Sen. Cheryl Pflug explained why she is supporting the bill. Tradition is not always right, she said, particularly when it came to racial struggles in the past. Tradition “is kind to the majority, but not to the minority,” Pflug said.

More than hour into the debate, Sen. Margarita Prentice drew laughter and applause when she said she’s ready to vote. Speaking before the vote began, Sen. Ed Murray said that no matter how his friends in the Senate vote, they’ll still be getting something from him: A wedding invitation.

The bill passed with 28 yes votes and 21 no votes, with four Republicans voting in support of the bill. Dozens of people watching in the gallery erupted into cheers and applause after the vote on the bill, which passed with seven amendments. The House will likely take the up the issue early next week.

After the session adjourned, Sen. Ed Murry said he had anticipated 27 votes, so getting 28 votes was a “pleasant” surprise.

“I was moved by my colleagues’ courage, and the tone of the debate was one of the best I’ve seen in 17 years in the Legislature,” Murray said.

Gov. Chris Gregoire released a statement after the vote applauding the move. “Tonight the Washington state Senate stood up for what is right and told all families in our state that they are equal, and that the state cannot be in the business of discrimination,” Gregoire said.

Sen. Ed Murray gears up for “historic” night; another senator announces support

By | February 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

Standing with his partner of 21 years, Sen. Ed Murray said he is prepared for a “very late” night of floor debate in the Senate on the same-sex marriage bill, which he described as “historic” for gays and lesbians around the country.

Murray’s partner Michael Shiosaki said he never thought today would happen when the couple first met on a camping trip on Mt. Rainer two decades ago. They are registered domestic partners, but Murray said it is not the same as marriage. “That is how society says you are a family,” Murray said.

Several amendments to the bill were on the table so far, including that would ensure that existing laws regarding the rights of faith-based adoption centers wouldn’t change. Murray said there is a possibility that one or two of the amendments may be accepted.

Shortly before the floor debate was set to begin, Sen. Brian Hatfield released a statement saying he would vote yes on the bill. “As private citizens, we are able to have that opinion, but as legislators, our “no” vote on this issue will be seen as loving my fellow man or woman less, based on their sexual orientation and an act of discrimination.  That is something I cannot do,” Hatfield said in the statement. Twenty five other senators have previously said they will vote yes.

The Senate gallery is full of people watching the debate. TVW will be live with coverage at 6 p.m., and we’ll have more on the blog and tomorrow’s edition of Legislative Review.

Rep. Larry Haler: “We have reached the breaking point”

By | January 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

In just a few minutes TVW will be on air with legislators with discussions spanning the topics of the budget, jobs, and higher education.

So far, we’ve spoken with Senators Ed Murray and Mark Schoesler about the budget and Senator Derek Kilmer about job creation.

In our discussion about higher education with Representative Larry Haler, he said “we have reached the breaking point,” regarding cuts to higher education. He said he is in talks with higher education officials and has called for a “zero percent increase” in tuition, or as close to that as is feasible, he added.

All of the interviews today will be on air at 7 p.m. as well.