Morning Fizz

U.S. Rep. DelBene Challenges Trump, State Rep. Frame Challenges State Democrats

Fighting a Muslim registry, fighting Democratic losses, and a win for charter schools.

By Josh Feit November 21, 2016

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 1. U.S. representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1) is co-sponsoring a bill called the “No Religious Registry Act” that would prohibit the government from setting up a registry that would classify people based on religion. President-elect Donald Trump has talked about putting Muslims in a registry.

A batch of Democrats are co-sponsoring the bill with DelBene, including civil rights legend U.S. representative John Lewis (D-GA), the first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress and now DNC chair hopeful Keith Ellison (D-MN), plus Jewish U.S. representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Steve Cohen (D-TN), and arguably most significantly and symbolically, U.S. representative Doris Matsui (D-CA), a Japanese-American who was born in an internment camp during WWII.  (Progressives should read up on the U.S. Supreme Court case that dealt with the infamous American Japanese internment camps.)

Citing the First Amendment’s prohibition of religious discrimination and the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection, DelBene says, "President-elect Donald Trump is breaking his promise to be a president for all Americans by supporting the creation of a Muslim registry. This kind of xenophobic and hateful rhetoric has no place in our government.”

2. Opponents of charter schools got bad news in their lawsuit against the new charter school law; voters approved charter schools in 2012, but lawmakers had to amend the law earlier this year to make the law comply with state guidelines prohibiting general fund money from going to non-traditional schools by passing a bill that used lottery money to fund the schools instead.

Calling it “speculative” and “theoretical” on Friday, King County Superior Court Judge John H. Chun dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim that the charter schools were connected to the legislature’s failure to fund K-12 schools. For starters, Chun said it’s well documented that the legislature’s failure meet the McCleary ruling “predate the enactment of the Charter Schools Act this year.”

Additionally, Chun says the charter rule explicitly prohibits the use of general fund money for charters. Chun writes: “Plaintiffs speculate that lottery revenue will prove insufficient to fund charter schools, that the legislature will shift funds…and that funds will be diverted away from other public schools. The Charter Schools Act does not indicate any such diversion. Instead, the Charter Schools Act provides ‘the legislature intends the state funding for charter public school be distributed equitably with the state funding provided for other public schools.’”   

And in a bit of an extra slap, Chun also ruled that several of the plaintiffs in the case against charters didn’t even have standing, booting El Centro de La Raza, the League of Women Voters, the Aerospace Machinists Union, the Washington Federation of State Employees, and the Teamsters off the case. However, the case is moving forward, because the main plaintiffs, including the Washington Education Association (the teachers’ union) and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union were granted standing.

3. Democratic State Representative Noel Frame (D-36, Ballard), a Bernie Sanders supporter who chaired the Washington state Democratic convention last summer in the run-up to the national convention in a show of strength for Sanders delegates, is now the lead signature on an online petition signed by a parade of Democratic Party precinct committee officers—“including supporters of both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton”—calling on the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC) “to withhold their support and endorsement in the race for Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party until they’ve given all other candidates an opportunity to make their case.”

The petition reads as a clear rebuke of current Washington State Democratic Party chair Jaxon Ravens. Citing recent state legislative losses (the Democrats failed to take back the state senate this year despite a concerted effort), the petition states:

Washington has long been viewed as a “blue” state. And while we passed ballot measures and elected Democrats at the statewide level, that’s where our blue streak ends. Now is not a time to pat ourselves on the back for maintaining on a statewide level. Instead we must seriously reflect on why we’re losing ground at every level below. We have consistently lost seats in the State House for the past 10 years, and now cling to a one-vote majority. Since 2013, Republicans have controlled the State Senate. In this 2016 election, we lost countless county-level races across the state previously held by Democrats. There is no excuse for this in a “blue” state.

The only other Democratic state representative to sign the petition is state representative Louis Moscoso (D-1, Bothell), a civil rights leader who helped pass the state’s own DREAM act, but hasn’t been able to win his fight for the Voting Rights Act. Moscoso, however, lost his seat this year after getting knocked out by a fellow Democrat in the state senate primary, Guy Palumbo, who went on to win big against the Republican in the general election.  

4. Finally, my latest story for the magazine—a piece that looks at the idea of safe consumption sites to fight heroin addiction—is out.

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