Morning Fizz

Morning Fizz: A Special Session for Transportation Funding and Not K-12 Funding?

Caffeinated News featuring: Special sessions, Nerdy women, and delinquent campaign finance reporting.

By Morning Fizz October 16, 2014

1. Moderate Republican state Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) reportedly told a group of surprised regional leaders at their regular closed door meeting two weeks ago that following this year's election there would be a special session of the legislature to pass a transportation package—a gas tax for a $12 billion package.

Fizz called Litzow yesterday, but he hasn't called back.

We also called the governor's office to see if, indeed, there were any plans for a special session (something that can only happen if the governor convenes it or if the legislature calls for one with a two-thirds vote in both houses.)

"The governor has been consistent all along. If legislative leaders can show him that they have a package and the votes to pass it on both chambers, we'll bring them back in, but at this point there has been no indication that that's the case," Gov. Jay Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said, adding she wasn't aware of any current talks nor that anything had changed since the Democratic house passed a transportation package in 2013 while the tax-phobic Republican-dominated senate did not.

Smith joked about Litzow: "It's great to hear there are still Republicans willing to take action on this."

Litzow's standing and influence within his caucus seems questionable given his flopped attempt last session to pass an education reform bill, bringing legislation to the floor only to have nine members of his own caucus bail live on TVW and send it down in flames. Litzow is the Republican-majority's education committee chair. 

And this brings us to the "One Question" we've got for Litzow: Is he trying to get the Washington State Supreme Court—which is already holding him (along with the entire legislature) in contempt for failing to come up with a plan to fully fund K-12 education—to throw him in jail now? The legislature needs to come up with about $5 billion extra for K-12 education. The Court would certainly be stunned—after being told by the state's attorney at the September's contempt hearing (the state lost, obviously) that school funding was the #1 priority and was "on every legislator's lips" —to then see legislators come up with $12 billion for transportation and not education. 

And second question, actually: How would that square with Litzow's caucus' mantra to "fund education first?"

2. U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1) and her Republican challenger Pedro Celis squared off yesterday at a debate sponsored by CityClub on the Microsoft campus

"Because women, in general, you know, are less nerdy, you know, are, have more of communication skills, have those better abilities than men do."—Pedro Celis

One audience member asked about the gender pay gap—an issue that recently embarrassed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella when he had to apologize for saying women should rely on the efficiency of Microsoft's HR system to get the raise that's coming to them rather than asking for one. (I guess asking for a raise would be too disruptive to Microsoft's perfect ecosystem, and you know, being "disruptive" is hardly a watchword in the tech industry right now. WE KID.)

Celis' answer accessed the same stereotypes about women that Nadella's did (Nadella talked about female "superpowers.")  "Because women, in general, you know, are less nerdy, you know, are, have more of communication skills, have those better abilities than men do," Celis said in a slightly convoluted attempt to explain that Microsoft was missing an opportunity by not having more women rise up the pay ladder. 

Watch his full answer here: 

3. National Rifle Association of America Washingtonians Opposed to I-594—local NRA activists who are campaigning against November's gun control measure—appear to be playing fast and loose with Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission, the agency that oversees campaign finance disclosure.

The anti-594 group received a $150 thousand contribution from the national NRA (out of the  $431,847 the NRA has contributed in total) a month ago, but only got around to filing that cash with the PDC earlier this week. 

The problem? Campaign finance rules require cash contributions to be filed by the first Monday after their receipt, according to the PDC’s Lori Anderson. However, Anderson says, the PDC normally doesn’t investigate this kind of delayed report unless a citizen submits a formal complaint, which hasn’t happened yet.

NRA Washingtonians Opposed to I-594, which has reported raising $432,596 overall with three individual contributions on top of the NRA checks, are already being looked at by the PDC because of a complaint submitted earlier this month alleging the group has severely under-reported its campaign fundraising and spending. The complainant points to a NW News Network interview in which an NRA spokesperson estimated that her group had spent almost double what it has reported to the PDC. Whether that spending should have been reported remains to be seen: the PDC is currently deciding whether the complaint warrants a formal investigation.

We’ve got a call in to anti-594 group's treasurer. 


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