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Legislative Leaders Preview the Recession Session at CityClub Forum

By Erica C. Barnett January 6, 2012

At CityClub's annual legislative preview at the Westin this afternoon, legislators---two Democrats and two Republicans---were asked a "lightning round" of questions about upcoming legislation, their budget priorities, and whether this was the year to taken on hot-button "social issues" like women's right to choose and same-sex marriage. The options, as usual: "Yes," "No," and "Waffle." (It would have been livelier if, as the 46th District Democrats once did, they had actual waffles to hold up when they chickened out.)

The four legislators were Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-3), House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D-47), House Republican budget leader Gary Alexander (R-20), and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mike Hewitt (R-16) (pictured).

Here are some of the (paraphrased) questions, along with the legislators' answers.

Do you support a sales tax increase to buy back some services Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget would cut? 

Brown and Sullivan said "Yes"; Alexander said "no"; and Hewitt waffled.

Do you support expanding slot machines to non-tribal cardrooms? 

Alexander and Hewitt said "Yes"; Brown said "No"; and Sullivan waffled.[pullquote]"Sorry. Probably."—Sen. Lisa Brown, after being asked if more education cuts were on the way. [/pullquote]

Should plastic bags be banned statewide? 

All four said "No," with Brown adding, "It should be done at the local level."

Should the legislature send a transportation revenue package to voters this year?

Alexander and Sullivan said "No"; Brown said "Yes"; and Hewitt said "Yes and no."

Would you support sending a WPA-style bond measure to create jobs to the ballot? 

Alexander said "No"; Sullivan said "Yes"; and Brown and Hewitt waffled, Brown noting, "We can do it in the legislature," i.e. without putting it out to a public vote.

Should the state legalize and regulate marijuana?

Alexander said "No"; the other three legislators waffled.

Will the legislature pass a gay-marriage bill this session?

Alexander said "No"; Brown and Sullivan said "Yes"; and Hewitt waffled.

If gay marriage passes, will the voters overturn it? 

Alexander and Hewitt said "Yes" (Hewitt quipping, "At least, the voters in my district"); Brown and Sullivan said "No."

Will there be any more cuts to higher education this session? 

Hewitt said "No"; the other three legislators waffled, Brown commenting quietly, "Sorry. Probably."

Watch the whole event, including debates about a bill that would require insurers who provide maternity care to cover abortion and a discussion about whether it's appropriate to discuss "social issues" during recessionary budget times, on the Seattle Channel later today.
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