Earlier today, we gave out the PubliCola Legislative Session 2010 acCOLAde for Best Lobbyist. Next up in PubliCola's 2010 acCOLAdes: The Tea Party Award.
The Tea Party movement, hot on the 10th Amendment (state's rights), has been the political story of the year, and many state legislatures, Washington's included, have seen their fair share of Tea Party-inspired bills proposed by Republicans trying to thwart what they see as an expanding federal government under Democratic President Obama. (I'm not sure where they were when Republican President Bush was using AT&T to spy on Americans.) In some states their efforts have succeeded. For instance, the governor of South Dakota signed into law legislation that declared federal firearm regulation void on weapons made and sold in that state. Wyoming has adopted a similar law, and Utah passed a bill that exempted the state from the impacts of federal health care reform.
Washington state's Republicans were largely MIA from the most important discussions in Olympia this session, but they did cause a stir early on when they proposed an litany of state's rights bills.
Rep. Matt Shea (R-4, Spokane Valley), the winner of PubliCola's 2010 Tea Party acCOLAde, was the legislature's biggest tea drinker. He sponsored several bills relating to gun rights, national health care reform and limiting federal authority generally. They were all shot down in Washington.
Shea proposed a bill that would have exempted most firearms stamped with "Made in Washington" from any federal regulation and one that allows a sheriff to block action by federal law enforcement if he or she saw fit. Then there's PubliCola's favorite: HB 4035, which Shea never actually dropped in the hopper. It did appear on the list of Tea Party bills released early in the session as a sort of "coming soon" attraction, however. The bill would have made it so “Only gold and silver coin can be tendered for payment of debt by or to Washington state.”
Rep. Bill Hinkle’s (R-13, Cle Elum) is the runner up for his bill that would have declared the federal health care reform unconstitutional which was voted down on the floor 58-36. See Josh's write-up on that here.