1. After finding himself in the hot seat with pro-choice voters yesterday (GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna told a woman who asked his position on the Reproductive Parity Act to "get a job" ... classy), he finally weighed in on the legislation. The bill, which stalled in Olympia last session, would have mandated that any insurer covering maternity care had to also cover abortions.
McKenna said he didn't support the RPA because he believed it would have jeopardized federal medicaid money coming to the state because of federal rules that prohibit federal money from funding abortion. “I support existing Washington law which guarantees a woman’s access to health care insurance coverage,” McKenna said in a statement. "I will not support a change to that law which could put federal funding of women’s health care at risk."
However, that line of reasoning got McKenna in trouble with pro-choice groups again. Saying McKenna was "making false statements," Planned Parenthood and NARAL issued a statement of their own saying the RPA was drafted to be in compliance with the federal Hyde/Weldon rule, which has long prohibited federal funding for abortions, and cited a letter to the White House from Democratic Washington State US Reps. Jim McDermott and Adam Smith and now-former US Rep. turned Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee that said: “The bill includes language that if the application of the Reproductive Parity Act results in non-compliance, the requirement would be suspended for that health plan."
The women's groups also noted that:
Every carrier currently selling in Washington covers abortion, and they have no objection to the RPA. Washington has an existing conscience clause for new providers wishing to be admitted into the state that do not want to include abortion in any of their health plans.
Meanwhile, the PI.com's Joel Connelly made a good point: "The state has 14 existing insurance mandates which include contraception, screenings for prostate cancer and mammograms."[pullquote]One of the opponents' fears was that mini-marts would start selling liquor in neighborhoods, particularly low-income neighborhoods. Now, it looks like that fear is coming true.[/pullquote]
2. The Washington Ledge's Austin Jenkins had a neat scoop yesterday: Several (at least) of the folks who bought the rights to apply for liquor licenses at the 167 state-run liquor stores that sold this week are convenience-store or gas station operators, and say they plan to open convenience stores at their new locations.
During the debate over the liquor-privatization initiative, of course, one of the opponents' fears was that mini-marts would start selling liquor in neighborhoods, particularly low-income neighborhoods. Now, to some extent, it looks like that fear is coming true.
3. City Council member Nick Licata gave top billing to a group of SHARE/WHEEL protesters (who called themselves "Occupy the Committee to End Homelessness King County") at the Committee to End Homelessness' governing board meeting yesterday morning. The group---which camped at Westlake Park Tuesday night after a judge ruled that they could do so---was given ten minutes at the beginning of the meeting to speak out against several aspects of the committee's plan.
Specifically, they objected to the Safe Harbors program, which collects information about shelter occupants; the 10-Year Plan's emphasis on moving people to permanent housing, as opposed to a focus on low-cost emergency housing; and the group's "lip service" (their words) to the root causes of economic injustice.
4. More news from the Democratic intramural where six candidates are competing to fill longtime state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's (D-36, Ballard) seat. (Dickerson is retiring.) The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers District 751 (the 45,000-member Boeing workers' union) endorsed Progressive Majority leader and Washington Bus Board member Noel Frame. “We’re endorsing Frame because we know she’ll go to Olympia and fight to fully fund for our education system – from pre-school through college,” Machinists' Political Director Larry Brown said.
The big union get is good news for Frame who was recently passed over by King County Labor Council, which recommended environmentalist Brett Phillips.
Frame, who's been active with Progressive Majority organizing for liberal candidates for the past several years, has already picked up a batch of endorsements from progressive legislators such as state Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, W. Seattle, Vashon), progressive campaign groups such as Fuse, and gay rights and feminist leaders such as former NARAL Pro-Choice Washington leaders, former Executive director Karen Cooper and former Interim Executive Director Christi Stapleton, along with Anne Levinson, Chair of Approve R-71, the gay marriage measure.