Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. President Obama isn't the only one who's mad at legislators for failing to pass gun control legislation. Gov. Jay Inslee issued an angry statement yesterday afternoon after the state senate failed to move on a gun control bill that the house passed earlier in the session. Yesterday was the cutoff day for either chamber to pass policy bills from the other chamber.

Rep. Roger Goodman's (D-45, Kirkland) bill to prevent people under sexual violence restraining orders from having guns—which passed the house 61-37 in early March—never made it to the senate floor for a vote. The senate is controlled by the Majority Coalition Caucus, a group of 23 Republicans and two conservative Democrats.

Earlier in the session the liberal house itself failed to pass another gun control bill—Rep. Jamie Pedersen's (D-43, Capitol Hill) universal background check bill.

Inslee said:

Earlier today I heard President Obama say it was a ‘pretty shameful day in Washington’ D.C. because of the failure of the Senate to pass common sense gun safety legislation. I was hoping that here in the other Washington we could do better. But by day’s end it is clear that our state Senate let yet another deadline pass without taking a vote on common sense gun safety legislation.
 
Washingtonians would be right to be bitterly disappointed. The lack of a vote on a bill that would keep guns from perpetrators of domestic violence comes on top of the Legislature’s failure to allow a vote on a bill that would help keep guns out of the hands of felons. Neither the House nor Senate has taken a vote on the bill to require background checks, and yet no one has offered a good reason why that bill should not become law in the state of Washington.

Rep. Roger Goodman's bill to prevent perpetrators of domestic violence from having guns never made it to the senate floor for a vote.

2. The domestic violence gun control bill was just one of several the Democratic minority was hoping to vote on before cutoff yesterday.  The Democrats tried unsuccessfully to force two other pieces of legislation, the Reproductive Parity Act and the DREAM Act,  to the floor through parliamentary maneuvers. They considered doing the same with Goodman's gun control bill, but realizing they didn't have the votes, they decided they'd already made their point about the MCC's partisan intransigence and figured the lack of action on gun control would speak for itself. (They considered making a second go at the DREAM Act, but couldn't identify a corresponding bill that they could attach it to as a relevant amendment.)

Inslee noted those bills as well: “The Senate also failed today yet again to take a vote on the Reproductive Parity Act which would protect women’s right to privacy in our state and the Dream Act which would help all Washington students get a college education.”

3. One bill the Democrats were hoping would come forward actually did: A house bill to regulate flame retardants. Conservative Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42, Ferndale) had actually killed the senate version of the bill in his environment committee earlier in the session, but then passed the house version after scaling back the number of products and potential chemicals that would be governed by the measure.

The bill goes back to the house now where an environmental upgrade will certainly become a bargaining chip in the pending budget negotiations.

What exactly was Ericksen up to? After all, why give the Democrats a chance to undo his changes.

However, after a plea by Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam)—a moderate that has clout with the Republicans—to strenghthen the bill, the MCC passed the bill as is, voting against the Democratic play 26-22, with Sens. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) and Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), typically liberals on environmental issues and co-sponsors of the original stronger bill, voting for the weaker bill.

The bill goes back to the house now where an environmental upgrade will certainly become a bargaining chip in the pending budget negotiations—clarifying how clever Ericksen and the Republicans actually were by putting the bill back into play.

Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, Vashon Island), a stuanch environmental leader, released a bad ass statement late in the afternoon condemning the vote, but, as a key negotiator on the budget,  also making it clear that Ericksen's ploy was pretty deft.

As passed ... the bill did not include a critical provision in the version passed out of the house that would allow the Department of Ecology to restrict known and future toxic flame retardants from being used in children’s products and furniture.
 
Every time we ban a toxic chemical in Washington, it is soon replaced with an equally or more harmful alternative. Replacing one bad chemical with another does not protect our children. It also does not protect our firefighters, who must breathe in the harmful fumes of flame retardants when they respond to a fire as they work to protect our families.

My goal is to ensure that the final legislation provides real protection for our families and firefighters.

4. One bill the senate passed unchanged yesterday to the Democratic minority's pleasant surprise was the house's "Safe Streets Bill"—a bike advocates' priority which allows local districts to ratchet down speed limits on residential streets and non-arterials without going through prohibitive engineering studies.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-32, Shoreline) in the house and Sen. Andy Billig (D-3, Spokane) in the senate.

The bill passed yesterday 42-5 with conservative Democratic Sen. Brian Hatfield (D-19) and Republican Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-15) voting 'No.'

Hatfield, along with Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens), was one of the Democrats who also voted against the amendments on the flame retardants bill as well.