UPDATED: McKenna pushes for reforms, says House Speaker is blocking bill votes

By | April 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

Rob McKenna today said a Democratic “failure of leadership” in the Legislature is at fault for protracted budget negotiations, and the Republican gubernatorial candidate urged adoption of reform bills that he says have bipartisan support.

McKenna said House Speaker Frank Chopp won’t allow a vote on the reform bills, despite offers from Republicans who are “ready to move quite a ways” toward a compromise.

“But they haven’t seen once inch of compromise from the speaker’s office,” McKenna said. “He will not allow any vote on any reform bill, even those that have strong Democratic support.”

McKenna said he supports a pension reform bill and 4-year balanced budget bill that were both part of the budget that passed the Senate with the support of Republicans and three moderate Democrats, then stalled in the Democratic-controlled House.

He also called for a number of long-term reforms during a press conference held in front of the newly built state Data Center building in Olympia,  which houses data and IT services. McKenna said the $268 million building is an example of government spending without oversight — rental space in the building costs double the going rate per square footage, McKenna said, and data storage could have been contracted out to “cloud” services for less money.

In addition to contracting out some state services to private businesses, McKenna called for reducing 5 percent of the state’s workforce through attrition, implementing a performance-based pay system, and giving the Legislature more power in negotiating labor contracts for workers’ pay and benefits. He outlined all of his ideas in a policy paper.

Update: Democratic Sen. Ed Murray, who chairs the Senate budget writing committee, issued a statement Monday evening saying McKenna is not part of the budget negotiations and his account of them “is not true and certainly not helpful.” Murray said House Speaker Frank Chopp has been working with budget negotiators daily.

“I’m surprised that McKenna, our state’s attorney general, thinks it’s constructive to insert himself into legislative negotiations as a political candidate,” Murray said.

Watch video of McKenna’s press conference below.

Categories: Budget, Election
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McKenna responds to protesters who want him to drop out of the health care lawsuit

By | March 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

Jessica Gao, host of The Impact, interviewed state Attorney General Rob McKenna today about the lawsuit challenging the federal health care overhaul. The Republican gubernatorial candidate joined 25 other attorneys general in the lawsuit, and says he’s opposed to the law’s mandate that requires everyone to have health insurance.

This morning, protesters gathered outside of McKenna’s office and demanded that he drop out of the lawsuit, which is currently in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Below is a short clip from the interview where McKenna offers his response to the protesters, saying they must be “perfectly content” with allowing the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether or not they have health insurance. Under the law, Americans must be covered by a basic health insurance plan or pay a tax penalty starting in 2014.

The full interview will air Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m.

Categories: Healthcare, TVW
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Inslee, McKenna weigh in on the new Republican budget proposal

By | March 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

Republicans and three Democrats released a new budget proposal this morning that they say offers a compromise by not making any cuts to education, while offering up a number of reforms, including one that would skip a payment to the pension system.

Senate Democratic leaders responded by saying it takes a step closer to their priorities — particularly in regard to education — but it makes too deep of cuts to the safety net, including eliminating food assistance and Disability Lifeline. At a bill signing in the afternoon, Gov. Chris Gregoire said she is mad — and vetoes could be on the way if lawmakers don’t come to a budget agreement.

And now, the two candidates running to replace Gregoire in the governor’s race this fall are weighing in. Click through to read statements from each: (more…)

Categories: Budget
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Congressman Jay Inslee will join Attorney General Rob McKenna in Governor’s race

By | June 23, 2011 | 0 Comments

The Seattle Times is reporting that Congressman Jay Inslee will announce early next week that he’s running for Governor. You can read the full story, which was verified via someone with “direct knowledge” of Inslee’s plans, here.

Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, has already announced his candidacy. When Gov. Chris Gregoire announced she won’t run for a third term, she said she’s support Inslee’s bid for her job.

McKenna announces he’s running for governor in ’12

By | June 8, 2011 | 0 Comments

Attorney General Rob McKenna announced tonight that he’s officially entering the race for governor. During the announcement, at his former high school, McKenna told the crowd that he wanted to create a government that matches the state’s “spirit for innovation.”

McKenna said government has overpromised during good times, then had to make drastic cuts during hard times, according to a news release sent out by his campaign. He wants to turn that around by focusing on creating jobs, reforming state government and improving the state’s public schools.

Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Gregoire said recently that she’ll announce whether she’ll run again soon.

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Florida judge rules federal healthcare unconstitutional in lawsuit McKenna joined

By | January 31, 2011 | 0 Comments

A judge in Florida has ruled the federal healthcare reform legislation to be unconstitutional — this is the case that Attorney General Rob McKenna joined last year with two dozen other states.

The District Court judge issued a nearly 80 page ruling. The law is also being challenged in other courts, and it may be on the way to the Supreme Court.

See what McKenna and Gregoire have to say after the jump. (more…)

State Supreme Court will hear Goldmark-McKenna disagreement

By | July 12, 2010 | 0 Comments

The Supreme Court will hear a disagreement between State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark and State Attorney General Rob McKenna — in November.

The short background: An Okanogan County utility wants to condemn some state forest land to put a power line through it. A district court judge ruled that the utility could do so, but the state — specifically, lands commissioner Goldmark, wanted to appeal. McKenna refused, and Goldmark took it to the Supreme Court (which meant getting another lawyer in the process).

On Nov. 18, oral arguments in the case will be heard in Olympia.

Goldmark said in a statement that he’s pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to take up his case. “It is a critical constitutional question of whether or not the Attorney General has the discretion to make policy for issues under the purview of another statewide elected official.”

Morning update: R71 verdict, new budgeting process and more

By | June 24, 2010 | 0 Comments

I’m headed up to the capitol now for two press conferences. The first, with Attorney General Rob McKenna, will cover the U.S. Supreme Court decision this morning that petition signatures are a public record.

The second, at 10:30, is with Gov. Chris Gregoire. Gregoire is going to announce a new budgeting process. This press conference will be shown later today on TVW.

Check back here in a few minutes for all you need to know.

McKenna: Standing ovation for healthcare lawsuit

By | June 12, 2010 | 0 Comments

Attorney General Rob McKenna is first up (after party chairman Luke Esser) to speak at the state Republican convention. He got a standing ovation in his introduction, when Esser said McKenna has earned liberal scorn by joining a lawsuit over federal healthcare reform.

“Thank you! Wow,” McKenna said. He said the state political landscape will look dramatically different after the November elections.

“We have got to restore the checks and balances in our system of government and elect a new Congress in 2010,” he said, noting that some changes to the healthcare reform bill can be decided by the court, but others will need to be changed legislatively.

McKenna cited the 10th amendment and said it was about guaranteeing that the federal government didn’t overstep its Constitutionally granted power.

He said the healthcare bill is the first time a law has required that citizens buy a specific product. “They talk about 46 million uninsured Americans… who are these 46 million Americans? Who is being targeted … the Census Bureau says that of the 46 million, 9 million of the people are covered by Medicaid already. Another 9 million are in this country illegally,” he said, and not subject to benefits under “Obamacare.” He said another 14 million will be covered by expanded Medicaid, leaving 14 million “earn enough to pay for health insurance and choose not to. They choose to self-insure, effectively,” and now Congress is insisting that those people must buy a commercial product.

McKenna said the Costitution has no shelf life, to which people clapped and cheered, leading to another standing ovation. (more…)

Updated: Reed and McKenna discuss this morning’s Supreme Court hearing on R71 petitions

By | April 28, 2010 | 0 Comments

Below are excerpts from this morning’s conference call with Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna. The two spent this morning arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that petition signatures are a public record. I’ll post the audio — along with the full courtroom transcript — as soon as both are available.

Update: Here is the full transcript.

Rob McKennaMcKenna: My team and I think it went well… When the petitioner’s council got up to talk, Mr. Bopp, the justices jumped in with questions 30 seconds in. For about 30 minutes they asked him a lot of questions, which means they’re skeptical… that all petitions in all cases ought to be nondisclosable…

Secondly, one of the issues we were prepared to argue about was whether or not this case involved a facial challenge to the public records act or only an as-applied challenge… Chief Justice Roberts immediately jumped in and said of course this is a facial challenge… so that was very valuable.

Justice Ginsberg was very valuable, so was justice Scalia….So, overall we felt it went well and we’re happy that since we’re the last case of the term that we’ll know one way or the other by the end of June.

Sam ReedReed: I felt very good about this hearing this morning… it’s an appropriate issue for the U.S. Supreme Court to take up… My impression overall is that what they were weighing is the possibility of somebody being harassed so bad that it overweighs the right of the public in general…

They realized the extent of this case and it wasn’t just this one referendum and this one state in the United States…

What did show up was the obvious inexperience – they couldn’t quite believe it when the Attorney General said some people sign these … to get away from the person that is trying to get them to sign…They really, I think, assumed that someone would have to have a strong personal conviction (to sign a petition)…

McKenna: We wanted to get the point across — and we did — that lots of people sign petitions who haven’t decided how they intend to vote …

Reed: One more overall observation – that is that the weight of the petitioner’s argument seemed to land mainly on the fear of people being upset with you because you signed a petition… Justice Scalia came down very hard on that argument. And he said, and this is a great quote, “Democracy requires a certain amount of civic courage.” (more…)

Sen. Darlene Fairley is retiring

By | April 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

Sen. Darlene Fairley announced yesterday that she won’t run for reelection. Get the full scoop — including her letter to colleagues — at the Seattle Times.

In other news, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has asked the state Supreme Court to block Rob McKenna from continuing with the lawsuit over federal healthcare reform. Get the rest of the story at the P-I.

Want to know more about the lawsuit over federal healthcare reform? Hear McKenna here

By | March 24, 2010 | 0 Comments

Here’s tomorrow night’s edition of Inside Olympia — taped this morning. Host Austin Jenkins interviewed Attorney General Rob McKenna — who is one of a dozen attorneys general suing the federal government over healthcare reform — and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who supports federal reform.

Thursday Q&A: Attorney General Rob McKenna on felon voting, public safety, the budget and more

By | January 7, 2010 | 0 Comments

This week’s Q&A is with Attorney General Rob McKenna. He’s on a trip, so we spoke over the phone this morning before he caught a shuttle. Below is our entire conversation, in which he addresses his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on felon voting rights, his plan to limit eminent domain, an idea for an administrative review of public records disputes, privatizing liquor sales and more. Enjoy.

Q: What’s your legislative agenda for this year?
McKenna: We have three priorities this session. The first is to improve public safety, particularly focusing on the victims of some of our state’s worst criminals, meaning serial domestic violence offenders, pedophiles who look at child porn online and those who abuse the elderly and the disabled.
The second package aims to protect consumers. We have a bill that will update our state’s auto lemon law to cover lemons that are offered for sale at used car lots and a separate bill that will protect homeowners who lose their homes in property tax foreclosures. In that ‘found money bill,’ as we’re calling it, the law would limit a finder’s fee for money left over from property tax foreclosures to no more than 5 percent. This bill is to protect individuals from those who want to obtain the leftover money from a property tax foreclosure for the homeowner and charge a very high fee, 20 or 30 percent. Because it’s very easy to obtain the leftover money, we think the limit ought to be 5 percent.
Our third package is aimed at reforming certain government powers. Two of the bills address the use of eminent domain to condemn private property for private redevelopment. We believe that there’s a high risk that government’s power to take private property and turn over to developers can be abused. So we would limit that power to bring into line with our Constitution, which says that private property cannot be taken for private use.
Our last bill in the area of government reform relates to the state’s public records act. We’re proposing that an administrative appeals process be created to allow the rapid and low-cost resolution of public records disputes.
Currently, a public record requestor or public agency has to resort to the courts to settle public records disputes. That’s very expensive, time consuming and it’s not in the best interest either of citizens who make requests or the agency staff who try to fulfill those requests. Under our proposal, which I worked on with state auditor Brian Sonntag, an administrative appeal process would be created to allow requesters and agencies to seek the opinion of an administrative law judge so that they can quickly and cheaply resolve those disputes. The admin law judge would rule within 30 days and the incentive to use the administrative process would be that not using it would result in waving any rights to penalties from not disclosing public records. If you use the administrative process and still aren’t happy, you could go to court and end up getting penalties. If you bypass and go directly to court, you waive your right to claim such penalties.
The advantage for agencies is that they can obtain a much more rapid resolution of questions so that they’re not exposed to such large penalties and attorney’s fees.

Q: You were part of a group that wrote an editorial calling for the state to privatize liquor sales. Can you explain how that would work and why you’re in favor? (more…)