1. Yesterday's packed state senate higher education committee hearing on the DREAM Act, which would extend state-based financial aid to children of undocumented residents, epitomized the demographic (and policy choice) conundrum confronting the Republican party in the 21st century: 213 people signed up to testify in favor of the bill while 21 signed up to testify against it.

The pro side was dominated by young, high-achieving, minority students, such as Francisco Navarro, a computer science student from Eastern Washington University who testified that after working in fruit orchards to pay for tuition, both Microsoft and Google have awarded him scholarships for his academic achievements. 

“All I want is the chance to attend university without putting me or my family in debt,” another student,  Federal Way high schooler Gamito Diaz, testified.

On the other side, older, white, mostly men, complained that bill rewarded "illegals" who "were breaking the law" and characterized the "wrong-minded" legislation as "having nothing to do with immigration ... it has everything to do with the redistribution of wealth."  An older Yakima resident complained: “Not only do the students benefit, but the parents do as well.” 

The question for the Grand Old Party: Do they take the clear political opportunity and embrace the future by reaching out to growing demographics or do they pander to a dwindling base?

The question for the Grand Old Party: Do they take the clear political opportunity and embrace the future by reaching out to growing demographics or do they pander to a dwindling base?

Higher education chair, Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-10, Oak Harbor) praised Navarro at yesterday's hearing— “There are 25,000 jobs waiting for computer science degrees, so have at it,” she said. Encouraging words. But she hasn't made a commitment to move the bill out of committee.

The DREAM Act passed the Democratic house earlier this month.

2. Speaking of shrinking Republican numbers. State Rep. Jessyn Farrell's (D-46, N. Seattle) bill to promote low-income housing development around transit stations passed out of the senate financial institutions committee yesterday after moderate Republican, Sen. Joe Fain (R-47, Auburn) defied the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Don Benton (R-17, Vancouver), and joined with the Democrats to pass the bill.

Farrell's bill passed the house along partisan lines earlier this month.

3. Another bill that passed the Democratic house earlier this month is the Voting Rights Act, which would allow minority voters to remedy discrimination through district voting. As we noted earlier this week, Sen. Pam Roach (R-31, Auburn), who passed her own bill out of the senate to allow district voting for her local hospital district, hasn't let the VRA out of her committee.

Hmmm. Maybe the house should add the VRA onto her her district voting bill, which is currently sitting in the house government operations committee, as an amendment. Just a thought.

Fizz hears there's yet another candidate for mayor.

4. Speaking of Sen. Roach, Fizz hears Roach may be holding up the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus' efforts to lock up their 25 votes to move forward on their budget proposal.

Why? The pending GOP plan—as Republican leader Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-9, Ritzville) indicated yesterday in his reaction to Gov. Jay Inslee's budget—may not be keen on fully funding all $650 to $800 million in state worker benefits.

However, Roach is one of the few Republicans who was endorsed by the Washington Federation of State Employees in recent years.

There's also $146 million on the table to cover costs to home health care workers represented by the Service Employees International Union 775. Roach is also one of the few Republicans who's scored an SEIU endorsement.

5. In case you missed it (it went up late in the afternoon yesterday), check out Carryn's photos from an aPodment she visited on Capitol Hill.

Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/stateworkers/2013/03/28/inslees-budget-outline-upholds-worker-contracts-suspends-colas-for-teachers-overall-adds-660m-plus-for-worker-compensation/#storylink=cpy

6. Finally, Fizz hears there's yet another candidate for mayor: Former City Council member Judy Nicastro intern turned successful personal injury lawyer Lincoln C. Beauregard has reportedly jumped into the race.

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