Isn't it Weird That (Special Conch-Blocked Version)
Some weird things we noticed in Olympia today.
1. Isn't it Weird that ... conservative freshman Rep. Matt Manweller (R-13, Ellensburg) started talking about The Lord of the Flies on the house floor this morning.
Manweller was testifying in favor fellow Republican Rep. Matt Shea's (R-4, Spokane Valley) house rules proposal to guarantee that every legislator gets to have at least one bill heard. (As we reported in this morning's Fizz, the minority Republicans ran a series of proposals on the house floor today, including one that goes beyond Tim Eyman's two-thirds vote rule by preventing any tax bill from even being debated on the house floor without a two-thirds vote.)
Defending Shea's "everybody gets to have at least one bill heard" proposal, Manweller said: "When Piggy gets the conch, everybody's got to listen to him. Don't we all deserve to hold the conch?"
As if that's not weird enough, I'm not sure we all want to be Piggy.
Via PubliCola's intern via Sparknotes:
Ralph and Jack fight for a second time. Piggy cries out shrilly, struggling to make himself heard over the brawl. As Piggy tries to speak, hoping to remind the group of the importance of rules and rescue, Roger shoves a massive rock down the mountainside. Ralph, who hears the rock falling, dives and dodges it. But the boulder strikes Piggy, shatters the conch shell he is holding, and knocks him off the mountainside to his death on the rocks below.
2. Isn't it Weird that ... the Majority Coalition Caucus (the group of 23 Republicans and two Democrats that now runs the state senate) shot down a compromise amendment by conservative state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens) on their workers' comp package?
The Republicans want all injured workers to be eligible for negotiated one-time settlements in lieu of ongoing guaranteed coverage for injuries from the state; currently, only workers 50 and older can take negotiated settlements. Unions argue that the settlements are designed to trick vulnerable workers, particularly younger ones without savings, into taking fast cash, and ultimately paying for workplace injuries out of pocket. The current minimum age of 50 was a compromise on that point when workers' comp reform passed with a bipartisan vote in 2011.
In an effort to forge another compromise, Hobbs pitched rolling the eligibility age back to 40. His amendment lost today, and the Republican language that would let workers settle instead of getting ongoing payments is still in the pending bill.
Bad karma for the MCC.
Hobbs was one of the few conservative Democrats who helped legitimize wayward Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom's (D-48, Medina) supposedly "bipartisan" MCC earlier this year by agreeing to chair a committee in the MCC regime (most Democrats refused).
Bad karma for the MCC.
And Hobbs worked hand in hand with the Republicans two years ago to help them pass the first installment of workers' comp changes, which scaled back payouts to injuured workers. Those reforms were hailed as a bipartisan deal because Hobbs brought along several members of his Roadkill Caucus, a group of conservative Democrats.
So much for bipartisanship.
By alienating Hobbs now—and thus failing to win the support of Hobbs' fellow Roadkillers, who would have voted for today's compromise—the MCC (which Hobbs, sitting in his office after the vote today, angrily called "the Republican caucus") risks turning Hobbs into an adversary. "I'm not voting for it!" he added, scoffing at the notion that the MCC's workers' comp package is a common-sense, bipartisan proposal.
Without Hobbs, a star fiscal conservative and one of the architects of 2011's bipartisan package, even the Seattle Times will have a hard time hailing the MCC's new workers' comp bill—which, by the way, also lowers the cap on maximum workers' comp payouts, takes medical benefits out of the calculation of compensation payouts, and fails to take into account the number of dependents an injured worker has.