1. In case you missed it (Josh posted this late yesterday afternoon), a group of conservative state senators filed legislation yesterday that would amend 2006's gay civil rights bill by allowing businesses to withhold service to customers if providing the service would go against the business owner's religious beliefs.
The bill, sponsored by Richland-area Sen. Sharon Brown (R-8, Kennewick), is obviously tailored to help the case of the Richland florist, Baronnelle Stutzman, who's being sued by the ACLU and by the state because her shop refused to provide service for a gay wedding.
There's a silver lining here for gay rights advocates: The legislation is a stunning acknowledgment that Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson's case against Arlene's Flowers and Gifts in Richland is a winner.
There's a silver lining here for gay rights advocates.
There's also news here about the pending special session, which is supposedly all about the budget: It could open the gates for a legislative free-for-all.
2. Evidence of the free-for-all: Yesterday, with supposedly just three days to go in the session, Rep. Larry Springer (D-45, Kirkland) introduced a 45-page payday lending bill that consumer advocates are nervous is another attempt to undo interest caps passed by liberal Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, Vashon Island).
3. Speaking of the special session, the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus held a press conference yesterday where conservative Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-35, Potlatch), one of the two renegade Democrats who caucuses with the Republicans in the MCC, said he "smelled a rat," accusing Gov. Inslee of coming to the rescue of legislators who are up for election and can't raise money while the legislature is in session, such as Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle), who's running for Seattle mayor, and Sen. Nathan Schlicher (D-26, Gig Harbor), who's facing a tough special election after being appointed this session.
Sheldon said: "Now there's rumors that the special session might be called in two or three weeks. Really, I gotta say frankly I smell a rat. And I think it's politics that now gets involved. There's individuals that are running for other offices. Mayor of Seattle. For senate as well. And they need to raise money. The idea would be that they could adjourn. And of course you can't raise money while we're in session. And that's upsetting to me and I think it should be upsetting, if that's the scenario that's followed, I think it should be just as upsetting to every citizen of Washington."
Fizz asked Murray what he thought of Sheldon's comments. "If I was the majority leader," Murray—who was displaced as leader when Sheldon and Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina) sided with the Republicans earlier this year—quipped, "we wouldn't need a special session." And he added: "I'd like to thank Sen. Sheldon for advertising that I'm running for mayor of Seattle."
Inslee's office is reportedly "furious" at Sheldon for scolding him—the governor is responsible for calling a special session - when no decisions have been made.
A window between the regular session, scheduled to end on Sunday, and a special session, could help the Republicans as well; Rep. Jan Angel (R-26, Port Orchard) is challenging Schlicher—and the GOP is obviously earger to raise cash; the Senate Republican Campaign Committee itself reportedly has a fundraiser scheduled in Olympia on Monday morning.
UPDATE: The governor's office is definitley not happy with Sheldon (nor Sen. Don Benton, who echoed Sheldon's claim.) "It's a baseless allegation," Inslee spokesman David Postman says of Sheldon's "rumor" about the governor's "political" calculus re: the timing of a special session. "They would be gaveled down on the senate floor" for questioning someone's motives. "They're both veteran senators, and they should know better."
Postman concluded: "No decision [about the special session] has been made, and when it is made, it will have zero to do with anybody's campaign for office."
4. Josh will be on KUOW's Weekday this morning to review the week's top stories.
Tune in 94.9 FM at 10.