1. Republican state Sens. Pam Roach (R-31, Auburn) and Don Benton (R-17, Vancouver) have been frustrated by their Majority Coalition Caucus' leadership's decisions to kill bills lately: Two weeks ago, Roach told PubliCola she was flummoxed when a campaign finance reform bill she'd passed out of her government operations committee died because her leadership ignored it. And on Friday, Fizz had the news that Sen. Benton was angry when a low-income housing bill got derailed by GOP leadership.
Both bills originated as Democratic bills—the campaign finance bill came from state Sen. Andy Billig (D-3, Spokane) and the housing bill came from Rep. David Sawyer (D-29, Tacoma)—and picked up impressive bipartisan support from the likes of conservative state senators such as Roach and Benton, along with GOP Sen. Brian Dansel (R-7, Republic) and initially Sen. Jan Angel (R-26, Port Orchard), getting unanimous support in committee before being dismissed by leadership.
Queuing up yet another standoff between the GOP rank and file (in concert with the Democrats) and the MCC leadership...On Friday, Sens. Roach and Benton helped pass another bipartisan bill out of committee, the Voting Rights Act, a Democratic priority bill which allows local jurisdictions to switch to districted elections if marginalized voters can show discriminatory voting patterns, queueing up yet another standoff between the GOP rank and file (in concert with the Democrats) and the MCC leadership. All four Republicans on the committee voted for the VRA on Friday.
The Democratic senate lead on the bill, Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-11. S.E. Seattle), coyly articulated the challenge to MCC leadership after the bill passed Roach's government operations committee on Friday, saying: “Thanks to hard work and cooperation, we can now pass it out of the legislature and ensure fair electoral representation in communities across our state.”
Guess we'll see. But MCC leader Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina) will not be able to use the excuse he's used for not passing other Democratic priorities, such as the pro-choice Reproductive Parity Act, when—pretending to be unflinchingly pro-choice—he blamed his caucus committee chairs for killing bills.
2. State Rep. Mike Sells (D-38, Everett) was just as shocked as Jolt on Friday about the state senate budget item directing $200,000 to the Boeing and aerospace lobbying group, the Aerospace Futures Alliance.
The money is earmarked for the AFA to "conduct research and development strategies to align the aerospace supplier industry with the maritime, automobile, medical device manufacturing, and other industries that share transferable workforce skills."
Rep. Sells, a staunch labor Democrat, told us:
There was no work plan, no accountability and no oversight—just a short budget proviso. There was no discussion beforehand with the Workforce Training Board, our Centers of Excellence, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and ... there was no discussion with the Department of Commerce, where the money was supposed to reside. I believe the House budget that will come out of Appropriations will not include it. Senator Hasegawa made an attempt in the Senate budget to get the money referred to the Workforce Board to no avail. In reality, it should not have been there at all without going through a thorough vetting process. Makes you wonder....I might add that I made some pretty strenuous objections to the proviso.
3. The house Democrats want to close $100 million in tax breaks this year to help fund education, but the Majority Coalition Caucus has said this supplemental budget year is not the time to take up big budgeting issues. Republican budget leader Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Redmond) made the GOP POV clear in a TVW interview last week (go to the 11-minute mark.) "To do something mid-year," Hill, the senate ways and means chair, said, "is very difficult in a short session ... to get everybody to agree to something as big as another big investment."
However, the senate had the time to approve a batch of tax breaks, signing off on the first wave of their $87 million in proposed tax exemptions for the next biennium, on Friday.