“”The Republicans in the Washington State Senate when the Legislature convenes on Monday will try to bypass the Washington State Constitution calling for majority votes to pass legislation. Two Republicans – Doug Erickson of Bellingham and Mike Baumgartner of Spokane – have announced that they intend to try to amend Senate Rules to require a 2/3 vote of the Senate to bring any legislation calling for a tax increase to the floor for a vote. In a great display of hypocrisy, this vote will require by their calculation only a majority of Senators to pass it.
Republicans in the Senate have a 26 to 23 majority but it seems they are not content with even that – wanting to give 1/3 of the sitting Senators veto power over the other 2/3. Thus a minority of 17 Senators, if this rule change passes, would have veto power over the wishes of 32 Senators – a clear coup of rule by the minority. As the Spokesman Review’s Jim Camden notes ” This would cover bills with new taxes …, raises in existing taxes and reduction or elimination in tax exemptions, sometimes known as loopholes — unless they had a referendum clause that was sending them to the ballot for voter approval”
This rule would require that any attempt to repeal non performing tax exemptions or reduce the exemption would also need to have a 2/3 vote to come to the senate floor for a vote. In again a twisted sense of majority rules it would only require a simple majority to pass a tax exemption. All of the current 650 plus tax exemptions in place only required a majority vote. Yet even if the Legislature through its JLARC review process determined that a specific exemption was not resulting in any benefit to state taxpayers, like increasing state employment and jobs, 1/3 of the members of the Senate could prevent the exemption being cut. This is the power of minority rule – whereby even if a majority wants to eliminate a tax exemption because it is not benefiting the state or meeting state priorities, the minority position wins.
The framers of the US Constitution looked at this issue in the Federalist papers. Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers No.#22 noted:
“To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser.” …
“…The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority. In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must, in some way or other, go forward. If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good. And yet, in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: for upon some occasions things will not admit of accommodation; and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended, or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savor of weakness, sometimes border upon anarchy.”
Ironic isn’t it that Republicans who profess they want to uphold the Constitution would try to impose rules of legislative action that run opposite of what the framers of the US Constitution felt that government needed to do to be effective. Majority rules for legislative action must be adhered to in passing legislation, not the imposition of rule by a minority to impose their will on the majority.
The Washington State Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue of majority votes being requires for passing legislation. It has ruled that requiring a supermajority like a 2/3 vote of all legislators is unconstitutional. This latest Republican proposed attempt to circumvent the Washington State Constitution shows the repeated hypocrisy of those that profess the need to adhere to the Constitution, in this case the Washington State Constitution, but repeatedly attempt to come up with ways to bypass it or ignore it to further their personal political agenda.
Voters need to take note of Washington Legislators like Senators Ericksen and Baumgartner who are not willing to abide by the intent and language of the Washington State Constitution and the Washington State Supreme Court and vote them out of office.
Washington State’s minimum wage will increase 15 cents on January 1, 2015 to $9.47 per hour. Every year Washington State’s minimum wage increases based on inflation increasing the Federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) over the last 12 months ending Aug. 31 of each year. Initiative 688 passed by voters in 1998 was the first state in the nation to add the requirement that the minimum wage each year must be increased based on inflation.
The National Conference of State Legislatures website has a list of all states and what their minimum wages will be next year. They note that nine states will have an increase based on their state laws requiring they be indexed to inflation. These state are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington. Oregon will have the second highest state minimum wage after Washington State next year at $9.25 per hour.
The current Federal minimum wage is $7.25. Twenty nine states and the District of Columbia next year will have a higher minimum wage than the Federal minimum wage. Attempts have been made in Congress to raise the Federal minimum wage which is not indexed to inflation but have been rebuffed by Republicans who have taken the approach to oppose any legislation being pushed by President Obama.
The Federal minimum wage was last increased on July 24, 2009 – over five and a half years ago. The wage increase was part of passage of the Fair Labor Practices Act. As the US Department of Labor notes “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.”
President Obama has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Republicans who are more concerned about supporting corporate America than working families have repeatedly opposed such legislation. President Obama in a direct attempt to circumvent Republican’s negative approach to addressing America’s problems like income equality hurting those on the bottom of the economic ladder, signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for those working for Federal contractors to $10.10 per hour.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee was a featured speaker at the Budget Matters 2014 Conference held Friday December 12, 2014 in Seattle Washington at the Washington State Convention Center. Remy Turpin, the Executive Director of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center asked the Governor questions in a conversation on climate and income inequality.
Governor Inslee started out by responding as to why he was concerned about climate change and pointed out a number of reasons. One reason Inslee said was personal – it was about what kind of world we were going to leave our grandchildren and this was at risk in fundamental ways. Another reason is about economic passion – how we grow jobs. But he said it was also about health issues caused by pollutants released from burning fossil fuels. He noted that asthma rates are high along heavily traveled roads and industrial sites. Asthma rates statistically go up closer to freeways. Children are particularly vulnerable and Inslee commented on a 14 year old he recently talked with whose friends all had asthma and thought it was normal until realizing that not all children had asthma.
Inslee also noted the impacts of carbon pollution on increasing ocean acidification and its impacts on sea life. Warming associated with climate change is also increasing health risks by increased forest fires and the resultant air pollution.
Carbon pollution is particularly hard on low income people who live in lower priced homes next to freeways or in or near industrial areas releasing pollutants from burning carbon based fuels. The current economy while growing is mostly benefiting those at the top and is not working for many working families leaving them more vulnerable.
Asked about what type of legislation he was going to propose to the Washington State Legislature on dealing with carbon pollution, the Governor said that to reduce carbon pollution it was necessary to internalize the cost. The costs to the environment, peoples’ health and the economy are not currently borne by those making money off of carbon fuels but is passed back to everyone else. Governor Inslee said there were two main ways to internalize the cost and they were to pass either a carbon pollution tax or a cap and trade system that puts a fixed cost per ton of CO2 produced.
While Inslee did not say which way he was going to propose, he seemed to talk most about the benefits of a cap and trade system. British Columbia has a carbon pollution tax but Australia’s right leaning government earlier this year repealed it’s carbon tax. California three years ago moved forward on implementing its cap and trade system signed into law by former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.
Inslee noted that eight New England states participate in a cap and trade system that is legally binding, that is limiting the number of pollution permits and that operate by a market system that auctions the permits. Cap and trade was also successfully used 20 years ago in the east to limit sulfur dioxide from coal burning.
Some 20 European countries also have a cap and trade system. While there has been some controversy over the declining permit costs to emit carbon pollution, the goals that were purposed to be met look like it is working. As noted in a New York Times post by Stig Schjolset:
“…the European Union experience suggests that designed in the right way, in line with the polluter-pays principle and with a strong compliance regime, emissions trading systems will put an effective cap on carbon emissions – a cap that can be gradually tightened as politicians sign up to more ambitious reduction targets.”
Governor Inslee warned that any attempt to put a price tag on carbon pollution would result in a full court press by the carbon extraction industries that are creating the pollution. Inslee said it was time to make ” the polluting industries rather than poor people pay.” He said the fight would be expensive and like that the tobacco industry launched- full of nonfactual and untrue statements. He said the fight has already started but that this effort will create thousands of jobs and help build infrastructure for repairing highways and education as well as help clean the air we all breathe.
Every two years the King County Democrats in Washington state elect new officers as do other county and legislative districts and the Washington State Democrats. On Saturday December 6th, 2014 some 208 King County precinct committee officers were present and signed in out of the 820 elected in the August Primary. The meeting was in south Seattle at the Machinists Hall.
Three candidates were running to succeed the previous Chair who decided not to re-run. They were Rich Erwin – a former Chair of the 41st LD Democrats, Omaha Sternberg – Chair of the 33rd LD Democrats, and Betsy Walker – Chair of the King County Young Democrats. The meeting was full of surprises, including the power and lights going out during the election of the Chair and the extreme closeness of several votes. Rich Erwin after 3 votes was elected the new Chair.
In the initial vote for Chair the following results were obtained:
Rich Erwin 68
Omaha Sternberg 67
Betsy Walker 67
spoiled ballot 1
After much discussion of how to proceed a revote was taken with the following tally:
Rich Erwin 69
Omaha Sternberg 70
Betsy Walker 63
A third vote was then taken, dropping the lowest vote. The lights were still out. The new tally was:
Rich Erwin 105 – elected Chair
Omaha Sternberg 89
Almost immediately after Rich Erwin was declared the new Chair, the power and lights came back.
1st Vice Chair
Omaha Sternberg was nominated to be 1st Vice Chair and was elected by acclimation.
The 2nd Vice Chair election was as follows:
Joel Ware 108 – elected 2nd Vice-Chair
Roger Crew 54
The 3rd Vice Chair results:
Christina Lewis 116 – elected 3rd Vice-Chair
Julius Caesar Robinson 20
Linda Seltzer 23
The 4th vice-chair position drew 4 nominees.
Roger Crew 20
Sara Franklin 53
Julius Caesar Robinson 64
Linda Seltzer 7
Roger Crew withdrew and the vote was held on the top 2.
Sara Franklin 68
Julius Caesar Robinson 68
one spoiled ballot labeled Sara Robinson
A revote was taken:
Sara Franklin 62
Julius Caesar Robinson 65 – elected 4th Vice Chair
Other officers elected:
Javier Valdez was nominated and elected by acclimation as the male State Committeeman
Ann Martin was nominated and elected by acclimation as the female State Committeewoman
Dave Fish was nominated and elected by acclimation to be the Treasurer
Roger Crew was nominated and elected by acclimation to be the Secretary
news reports on elections:
On Monday, Dec 1, 2014 Democratic PCO’s in Washington State’s 30th Legislative District meet to nominate 3 candidates to be considered to replace Democratic Representative Roger Freeman. Roger Freeman died several days before the November 4th, 2014 Election but still received enough votes to win the election. His death then commenced a process to replace him. In rank order the 30th LD Democrats nominated Carol Gregory, Richard Champion and Shari Song to be considered by the King and Pierce County Councils to replace him.
The replacement process under Washington State law calls for candidates whose Legislative District straddles 2 counties to be selected from a list of 3 candidates nominated by Precinct Committee Officers of the same political party as the deceased candidate from the Legislative District. The State Central Committee then approves this list and forwards it to the respective County Councils who have 30 days to select a replacement person. If they do not agree on a candidate, the Governor then makes the appointment.
States vary in how they fill vacant legislative positions caused by a death or resignation. The National Conference of States Legislatures has a detailed list of how the various states do it. Twenty five states fill the seat by a special election. In five states the political party of the deceased candidate makes the appointment. In eleven states the Governor makes the appointment. In one state the political party and the House makes the appointment. Seven states including Washington make the appointment of someone of the same political party as the last person to hold the office and delegate the final appointment to their county commissioners. Besides Washington, the other states leaving the appointment up to county commissioners are Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming.
The Democratic Precinct Committee Officers of Washington’s 30th LD commenced the process by narrowing a list of 6 candidates down to a ranked list of 3 candidates as required by state law. The following candidates in the order nominated as candidates to be considered fby the 30th LD Democrats for filling the vacancy. Richard Champion, Hope Elder, Roger Flygare, Carol Gregory, Shari Song, and Rose Osherin Edwards.
Richard Champion is the current 1st Vice Chair of the 30th LD Democrats and served in the past as a Vice – Chair of the King County Democrats. He was active in the SeaTac campaign for a $15 minimum wage and serves on the Board of PSARA – Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action.
Hope Elder is active in her local church and is on the Board of Fusion. She has been a Deputy Mayor of Federal Way and has been involved with the Community Supper effort.
Roger Flygare is a small businessman and has run for both the legislature and for the Federal Way City Council.
Carol Gregory is a former teacher and past President of the Washington Education Association. She has worked in the Governor’s Office, lobbied the legislature and ran for legislature twice before, losing her last attempt by only 301 votes.
Shari Song ran for the State Senate in the 30th LD in the 2014 election. Previously she ran for a seat on the King County Council. She has been active in a number of civic organizations and grew up in the district.
Rose Osherin Edwards is a nurse and has 3 kids She is a member of SEIU and has been active in her kid’s PTA , including chairing the garden committee.
The first vote taken was to select the top ranked candidate:
Richard Champion 9
Hope Elder 1
Roger Flygare 7
Carol Gregory 8
Shari Song 4
Rose Osherin Edwards 0
Since no one received a majority, a second ballot was taken between the top 2 candidates.
Carol Gregory 15
Richard Champion 14
Carol Gregory became the #1 top ranked candidate
A third ballot was taken to select the #2 ranked nomination:
Richard Champion 17
Roger Flygare 6
Shari Song 6
Richard Champion became the #2 ranked candidate
A fourth ballot was taken to select the #3 candidate:
Roger Flygare 10
Shari Song 14
Hope Elder 2
Rose Osherin Edwards 2
Since no one of the candidates received a majority a 5th vote was taken between the top 2 candidates:
Shari Song 18
Roger Flygare 11
Shari Song was selected as the #3 ranked candidate.
The final decision is now up to a joint meeting of the King Country and Pierce County Councils. No date has been selected yet for that meeting. Usually the top ranked candidate in the voting by the precinct committees officers in selected as the appointee by the Councils voting but that is not always the case. Mia Gregerson now a Representative in the 33rd LD was not the top choice of the precinct committee officers but was selected in what became a controversial choice last year by the King County Council. The County Councils are not required by law to pick the top choice but must choose amng the three nominated by the precinct committee officers or the decision goes to the Governor.
It seems that the GOP – the Grand Old Party has in recent years transformed itself into representing the Grand Old Polluters - the oil, gas and coal industries. It wasn’t always so. As Paul Krugman points out in a column entitled “Pollution and Politics” in the New York Times:
“…the reason pollution has become partisan is that Republicans have moved right. A generation ago, it turns out, environment wasn’t a partisan issue: according to Pew Research, in 1992 an overwhelming majority in both parties favored stricter laws and regulation. Since then, Democratic views haven’t changed, but Republican support for environmental protection has collapsed.”
Krugman says that party ideology, namely that government needs to be limited and not restrict free enterprise is one reason but that the most likely underlying reason is “rising inequality”:
“The basic story of political polarization over the past few decades is that, as a wealthy minority has pulled away economically from the rest of the country, it has pulled one major party along with it. True, Democrats often cater to the interests of the 1 percent, but Republicans always do. Any policy that benefits lower- and middle-income Americans at the expense of the elite — like health reform, which guarantees insurance to all and pays for that guarantee in part with taxes on higher incomes — will face bitter Republican opposition.”
Krugman’s analysis of the Republican Party’s sleeping with the polluters is pretty much the same as what Naomi Klein is saying in her recent book, “This Changes Everything – Climate Vs. The Climate” The environment and the climate are being ravaged by the polluters who are resisting responding to climate change because it will ultimately repudiate their cash cow – the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy.
The polluter’s cash cow has unfortunately been producing and belching and expelling gases like CO2 and methane that Naomi Klein notes 97% of climatologists say is causing uncontrolled climate change that threatens the future of life on this earth. Climate changing emissions are continuing to rise, with drastic changes occurring, including increasing loss of glaciers, melting of the polar ice cap, rising sea levels and ocean acidification. Klein asserts that:
“…we have not done the things necessary to lower emissions because these things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe – and would benefit the vast majority – are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our media outlets.”
Corporate globalism according to Klein has worked to
“…lock in a global policy framework that provided maximum freedom to multinational corporations to produce their goods as cheaply as possible and sell them with as few regulations as possible – while paying as little in taxes as possible …
The three pillars of this new era are familiar to us al: privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the public sector, and lower corporate taxation paid for with cuts to public spending .. Very little, however, has been written about how market fundamentalism sabotaged our collective response to climate change, a threat that came knocking just as this ideology was reaching its zenith.”
Klein goes on to say much more and I urge you to read “This Changes Everything – Capitalism Vs. The Climate“. She is tackling the same issues that Progressive Democrats have been trying to address and suggests that drastic change is need. Too many Democrats have followed a line of accommodation and centralism and compromise, thinking that this was the way to move forward. Unfortunately Republicans and the multinational corporations and the wealthy interests and people they represent have been more skilled at conning the American people and others around the world into believing that helping the multinational corporations would be good for them.
The greed mentality and profit triumphed over the public good and a sharing of wealth in the free market economic game. The resultant extreme income inequality that has resulted is only one of the major disasters of the unfettered free market free for all. Worsening climate change and environmental degradation has also happened. The world under the free market system is now conducting a giant experiment on environmental change and degradation and the earth’s ability to adapt and survive. Unfortunately there are no referees to stop the experiment if it starts to spiral out of control. There are no rules it seems save increase profits. It is a rigged game that saner heads need to call an end to now. There are too many injuries to people and to the earth all for the increased profits of a few who have externalized the costs to the many.
King County in Washington State has about one third of Washington State voters, is strongly Democratic and has typically provides the margin of difference in many state wide races for Democrats. Every two years State, County and Legislative District Democratic organizations reorganize and elect new officers. On Saturday Dec. 6th, 2014 some 840 precinct committees officers elected in the August 2014 Primary are eligible to meet and vote to elect a new Chair for the King County Democrats.
This year there are 3 candidates running for Chair of the King County Democrats – Rich Erwin, Omaha Sternberg and Betsy Walker.
Rich Erwin is a former Chair and Vice-Chair of the 41st LD Democrats, Omaha Sternberg is the current Chair of the 33rd LD Democrats, and Betsy Walker is the current Chair of the King County Young Democrats.
Here is the contact information to learn more about these candidates:
website Rich Erwin for KCDCC Chair
facebook Rich Erwin for KCDCC Chair
facebook Omaha for Chair
facebook Betsy Walker for KCDCC Chair
The 46th LD Democrats on Nov 20th held a forum for the Chair candidates. You can watch the video here:
The reorganization meeting will be held on Dec 6th, 2014, with sign in starting at 8:30 AM and the meeting starting at 9 AM. The meeting will be held at the Aerospace Machinists Union Hall at 9125 15th Pl S in South Seattle. Also to be elected at this meeting are four Vice Chairs, a Secretary, a Treasurer and a male and female Committee member to represent King County on the Washington State Democratic Central Committee.
The main reason voters gave for their voting as they did in the Nov 2014 election was the economy as it affected them. Despite job growth going up and unemployment going down and the stock market going up and GDP increasing, most Americans were not sharing in the economy doing better.
As Steve Rattner points out in a New York Times article entitled “Inequality Unbelievably, Gets Worse” :
“Inflation-adjusted earnings of the bottom 90 percent of Americans fell between 2010 and 2013, with those near the bottom dropping the most. Meanwhile, incomes in the top decile rose.”
Democrats got blamed for the impacts of this growing income inequality in the US. Ironically conservative Republican policies rather than progressive Democratic policies have exacerbated this inequality. Republicans did a better job of blaming people’s economic woes on Obama and deflected their own culpability and contribution in opposing things like repealing tax loopholes on big oil and other profitable corporations and pushing for lowering taxes on the rich.
In charts presented in Rattner’s piece, he notes that because of the US’s relative low tax rate compared to that of other developed countries, less funds are available to help people in need of government assistance. The result is that the US ranks at the top as having the most inequality. Rattner says:
“That’s because our taxes, while progressive, are low by international standards and our social welfare programs — ranging from unemployment benefits to disability insurance to retirement payments — are consequently less generous.
Conservatives may bemoan the size of our government; in reality, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, total tax revenues in the United States this year will be smaller on a relative basis than those of any other member country.”
Democrats unfortunately did not talk about what they and Obama had been doing to help working families despite Republican opposition. Again Rattner noted:
To his credit, President Obama has succeeded in keeping income disparities from growing even wider, by such measures as by forcing tax rates on the wealthiest Americans up toward fair levels.Meanwhile, on the programmatic side, among the many meritorious aspects of the much-maligned Affordable Care Act are its redistributionist elements: higher taxes on investment income and some health care businesses are being used to provide low-cost or free health care to a projected 26 million Americans near the bottom of the income scale.
Democrat Jason Ritchie is running in Washington’s 8th Congressional District against incumbent Republican Dave Reichert. Washington state’s 10 congressional districts are currently held by 6 Democrats and 4 Republicans. Picking up an additional Democratic Congressional seat would help in the Democrat’s national effort to take back the US House of Representatives from the Republicans. Considering that President Obama won the 8th Congressional District when he ran for re-election in 2012 makes a Democratic pickup possible. The 8th CD is one of only 17 CD’s nationally where Obama won and a Republican Representative won.
Continue reading »
Continue reading »
Democratic Representative Cyrus Habib announced today that he was going to run for the State Senate seat in the 48th LD in east King County. Candidate Joan McBride, former Mayor of Kirkland, announced that she was dropping her bid for Senate and would run for Habib’s House seat.
Joan McBride was the lone Democrat to challenge Senator Rodney Tom in the 48th LD. Rodney Tom, while professing to be a Democrat, bolted the Democratic Party two years ago when he aligned himself with the Republicans in the State Senate. This Legislative session he was the so-called Majority Leader as a result of joining with another Democrat professing to also be a Democrat – Tim Sheldon of the 35th LD, and aligning themselves with the minority 24 Republicans to be part of a “Majority Coalition”.
Continue reading »
Continue reading »
- Washington State Senate Republicans Again Want to Ignore State Constitution
- 2015 Washington State Minimum Wage to Increase to $9.47/hr.
- Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Climate Change
- Rich Erwin Elected New King County Democrats Chair
- WA 30th LD Democrats Nominate 3 Candidates to Replace Rep. Roger Freeman
- Senate “Education by Starvation” Proposal Proves that New Revenue is Needed
- Three Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage in Washington State
- Governor offers Realistic, Responsible Approach to State Budget
- Washington State’s Upside Down Tax System Takes A Heavy Toll On Communities Of Color
- Senate Ways & Means Chair Releases Budget Analysis- Clear Nod to Forthcoming Budget Proposal by Senate
- Proposed constitutional amendment to thwart unfunded mandates should be discarded
- Roger Freeman’s former legislative aide joins Republican Party to run for Legislature
- Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Justice too long delayed is justice denied”
- Actions speak louder than words, and Tim Sheldon’s actions make him a Republican
- Democrats settle score with Tim Sheldon by electing Pam Roach as President Pro Tem