1. "Are you seeing what's going on here?" Democratic Senate Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3) declared as Vancouver Republican Sen. Don Benton (R-17) scotched a Democratic bill to provide public funding for state Supreme Court Justice campaigns.
Sen. Benton claimed the proposal, which would have used a County Clerk filing fee to support public financing, amounted to a new tax and required a two-thirds majority under I-960 rules. (I-960, which the Senate Democrats have actually voted to suspend, still stands because the House hasn't suspended the rule yet, nor has Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the change yet.)
Lt. Governor Brad Owen, the President of the Senate, agreed with Benton and the Democrats couldn't muster the super majority. The public financing bill died.
Brown was astonished at the irony. "The Republicans have been talking all about the integrity of the election process," she said referring to GOP rhetoric against suspending I-960—which voters passed in 2007—"but here they are with a corporate campaign finance protection act." In 2006, independent expenditure groups—corporations and unions—infamously poured $2.7 million into a special interest ideological war over the Supreme Court.
Sen. Benton said simply: “I challenged the new surcharge because it is not connected to the purpose for which the fees were designed—to cover filing costs."
2. The vulnerable roadway users bill, which would have increased penalties for drivers who kill or seriously injure cyclists or pedestrians, failed to meet the cutoff deadline to make it out of the state senate yesterday.
The bill required anyone who kills or seriously hurt a biker of pedestrian while committing second-degree negligent driving to attend traffic safety class and perform up to 100 hours of community service or pay a fine of up to $5,000.
3. As we've written previously, Beacon Hill neighborhood activists are protesting a proposed zoning change that would allow taller buildings near light-rail stations, arguing that the city has failed to consider the need for new infrastructure, services, and utilities to serve new residents.
The specific zoning changes neighbors are protesting? Two additional stories for residential buildings (up to a total of 65 feet)—on a total of four blocks immediately adjacent to the Beacon Hill light rail station.
Thanks Seattle Transit Blog for the report.
4. Jon Bon Jovi (yes, that Jon Bon Jovi) will be in town today for an “information gathering” visit to the Downtown Emergency Service Center's 1811 Eastlake project for homeless chronic alcohol addicts.
5. One more I-960 note: As we all know, the Senate Democrats made a big deal about repealing all of I-960—not just the two-thirds rule to pass taxes, but also—to Republican outrage—the rules that required public notice and 10-year-out analysis of proposed tax increases.
The House took up the measure last night and is epxected to vote on it today. One thing the House Democrats have done already to appease the GOP though? Reverse the Senate Democrats' amendments that iced the public notice rules.
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