The State of Washington is facing an additional $2.6 billion shortfall in revenue for the remainder of the current biannual budget cycle. Critical state services will be cut unless tax revisions and proposals to raise new revenue are adopted by the Washington State Legislature.
Below is a copy of a just received press release regarding a proposal already adopted by a number of other states – namely raise the tax on tobacco products which contribute to health care costs in the state. Legislators should support this measure as a reasonable alternative to further budget cuts and further loss of vital state services.
Representative Cody Sponsors Bill to Increase Tobacco Tax
Health Care Committee Chair aims for $88 million in revenue and decline in smoking rates
Olympia – Representative Eileen Cody (D – West Seattle), chair of the House Health Care and Wellness committee, has prefiled a bill for the 2010 legislative session to increase the tax on cigarettes by $1 and raise additional taxes on other tobacco products.
“Studies show that an increase in tobacco taxes will help kids stop smoking and may even prevent them from starting in the first in the place,” says Cody, a nurse who has made public health a priority during her tenure in the Legislature.
“At a time when our state faces a $2.8 billion budget shortfall, we desperately need additional revenue,” she continued. “Taxing tobacco makes sense: we save lives and millions of dollars in health care costs and help balance the state budget.”
House Bill 2493 would increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 and close tax loopholes, bringing tax rates on other tobacco products to parallel levels. The proposal would raise annual state revenues by at least $88 million. Of that, $19 million would be used to fund programs that help smokers quit and keep kids from ever starting to smoke.
A coalition of health organizations attempted to pass a similar measure last year, but it was limited to cigarettes and the revenue was more targeted to cessation programs. This year, many lawmakers as well as anti-tobacco use advocates believe there are few health care services and programs that can withstand additional cuts and are more willing to consider taxes and a broader application of the revenue.
The inclusion of smokeless products in this year’s bill — including deceptively marketed fruit-flavored products in bright packaging– reflects a growing fear that tobacco companies are taking advantage cuts in tobacco prevention programs across the nation to ramp up their marketing to children. Raising the cost of products and protecting funding for cessation and education programs is one effective way to protect youth from starting to use tobacco products.
Additionally, there is growing public support for these taxes here in Washington State. According to a recent survey, 70% of registered voters in Washington favor raising taxes on tobacco products.
“The tobacco industry is getting more clever at marketing to kids. On a recent trip to the store, I found apple and peach-flavored chewing tobacco and blackberry-flavored cigars. These products are obviously targeted at youth,” said Erin Dziedzic, Washington State Government Relations Director for American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).
”We know that raising taxes on smokeless tobacco, as well as cigarettes, will mean a drop in use especially among youth and young adults. For example, one study found that a 10 percent increase in smokeless tobacco prices reduces male youth consumption by 5.9 percent, with two-thirds of that reduction coming from kids stopping any use of smokeless tobacco at all,” said Lucy Culp, Washington Government Affairs Director for American Heart Association.
For Immediate Release: January 5, 2010
Contact: Erin Dziedzic, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, 425-466-5177
Lucy Culp, American Heart Association, 360-870-4016
In December the King County Democrats Legislative Action Committee met to finalize their Legislative Action Agenda for 2010. The 2010 Washington State Legislature convenes on January 11, 2010. The session only lasts 60 days. The main focus will be on dealing with a projected additional $2.6 billion shortfall for the remainder of this 2 year budget cycle.
The King County Democrats Legislative Action Agenda includes both short and long term priority goals, realizing that it will be difficult to enact new legislation in this short session under difficult budget constraints. The 2009 Legislative session raised no new revenue.
The King County Democrats support trying to bridge this new gap of an additional $2.6 billion shortfall by trying to raise 2/3 of it through new revenue and 1/3 by additional cuts. This will require suspending or repealing the constraints of Initiative 960 which require a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to raise any revenue or eliminate any special interest tax exemptions.
I-960, having been in place 2 years, can now be amended or repealed by a simple majority of the Washington State Legislature. I-960 is actually in contradiction to the Washington State Constitution which says the Legislature shall act by majority vote. I-960 allows a minority of Legislators to block any revenue increase and Legislators have been reluctant to question the constitutionality of I-960. A suit by Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown was not acted on by the State Supreme Court saying it was an internal issue for the Legislature, not the Courts, to address.
Below is the Adopted 2010 Legislative Agenda for the King County Democrats:
King County Democrats Legislative Action Committee
2010 Legislative Agenda
• Repeal I-960 and raise revenue to provide adequate funding for vital state services – repeal provisions requiring supermajority votes to approve tax and revenue issues, raise at least 2/3 of shortfall via new revenue and repealing tax exemptions
2. Tax Reform
• Repeal non-performing corporate tax breaks, sunset tax exemptions every 5 to10 years
• Require Tax Expenditure Reports as part of state budget process, prioritize exemptions, require approval as part of budget process
• Implement a state income tax on high income earners over $250,000
• Tax reduction for low income households and small businesses – Homestead Exemption or circuit breaker legislation
3. Banking, Foreclosure and Predatory Lending Reform
• Require lenders to use mediation, require proper maintenance of foreclosed homes, give homeowners right to rent former homes, increase state enforcement powers, extend initial timeline to respond to foreclosure to 90 days from 30 days, and give whistle-blower protections to employees at lending institutions.
• Establish a public Washington State Bank similar to North Dakota’s for infrastructure
4. Human Services
• “Disability Lifeline”–Protect poverty programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Apple Health for kids, Basic Health, Emergency Food Assistance, Medicaid, mental health, substance abuse treatment and General Assistance for people with disabilities
• Prohibit source of income (e.g., Sec. as a means to discriminate
• Pass Fair Tenant Screening Act to regulate screeners and make reports valid for 60 days
• Promote State Housing Trust Fund at 50% of previous level of effort (or $50 million) as a shovel-ready jobs bill
• Workforce Housing Fund Construct or purchase 25,000 rental units through housing authorities for working families at or below 80% of median income
• Homebuilding Revitalization Act –give homeowners recourse to remedy defects in new homes that need repair
6. Environmental Priorities:
• Invest in Clean Water Bill (HB 1640) raise funds for clean water infrastructure and storm water control by imposing a per-barrel fee on petroleum products.
• Safe Baby Bottle Act will phase out harmful bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles, etc.
• Oppose budget cuts to environmental programs
• Create recycling program for fluorescent lights – require lighting producers to provide a convenient statewide recycling program for fluorescent lights to prevent exposure to and release of toxic mercury
7. Public Health and Safety
• Secure Medicine Return – require drug producers to provide secure collection and environmentally sound disposal of unwanted, unused, or expired medicines, as they do in other countries.
8. Election and Initiative Reform
• Public Financing of campaigns for Washington State Supreme Court – optional public financing for campaigns, providing adequate sums to run competitive campaigns
• Universal Voter Registration – opt out, not opt in, legislation for motor voter registration
• Same-day voter registration
• Increase initiative filing fee to $100; $25 when file with Secretary of State, $75 when re-file for ballot title and summary; alt – $100 or 500 signatures
• Require signature gatherers to be Washington State residents
• Set up Citizen’s Initiative Review Process like recent Oregon legislation.
• Support initiative signatures being public
9. L&I “Retro Reform”
• Greater regulation and transparency of L&I insurance pool refunds(S 6035)
• Collective bargaining for musicians, early childhood educators, 2-year college faculty, lecturers and interpreters
• Require prevailing wages to be paid on all public private partnerships and projects involving public or private land
• Redefining funding formula for basic education
• More options for helping underperforming schools
• Levy Equalization
• Include early learning education for at risk children in definition of basic education
12. Criminal Justice
• Revise three strikes and sentencing guidelines
• Change how juveniles are sentenced as adults
King County Democrats Legislative Action Committee
. – Sarajane Siegfriedt & Steve Zemke Co-Chairs
Adopted by Legislative Action Committee 12/13/2009
Representative Brendan Williams speaks out in his latest Legislative Update about the need to “invest” in our state. He argues that we can’t keep cutting our state budget without killing the economic engine driving Washington State’s future.
Watch here and urge your state Legislator to also step up, speak out and act to fund needed public services in the upcoming Legislative session starting in January. The current state revenue forecast points to another $2.6 to $2.7 billion shortfall next year from the previously approved budget. You can contact your legislator by going to www.leg.wa.gov.
An Open Letter to the Washington State Legislature:
Yesterday, the Boeing Company announced that they intended to move production to South Carolina in order to have planes built by inexperienced non-union workers making an average of less than $14 per hour rather than having planes built by highly skilled and highly experienced union workers in Washington State making an average of $26 per hour.
This is one more step in what many have called the “disappearing Boeing Airplane” during the past 20 years. While some have blamed the union and/or the Legislature for this problem, the truth is that both the union and the Legislature have made billions of dollars in concessions to the Boeing company. These billions of dollars in concessions were then used by Boeing to help finance their multi-billion dollar plant in South Carolina.
This latest decision by Boeing’s upper management is perplexing because the South Carolina plant has already made numerous errors which set back production of the Boeing Dreamliner by years. Further investment in South Carolina appears to be throwing good money after bad and places the future of the entire Boeing Company in doubt. This is not just my opinion. It is also the opinion of nearly every airline industry analyst. The upper management of the Boeing Company appears to be cutting their own throat- as well as sticking a knife in the back of aerospace workers in the State of Washington.
This problem concerns me because my grandfather, William Gunnerud, helped start the Machinists Union in the 1940’s and spent his whole life building Boeing Airplanes. Many members of my family worked for Boeing. While there may not be much we can do about the reckless decisions of Boeing’s upper management, there are some steps we can and should take now to protect the aerospace industry and aerospace workers here in the State of Washington.
The Legislature should draft and pass a bill authorizing public–private aerospace partnerships. We attempted to do this in giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to Boeing in the past 10 years. But the money was given away without any conditions. In hind sight, that was a mistake. This new partnership must include several specific conditions:
· First, it must include an employee cooperative so that the employees are the owners of the company. Employees are much less likely to outsource their jobs than employers. Also, Washington State has a long history of successful cooperatives (such as Group Health Coop) and we should form a similar public private aerospace partnership here in Washington State.
· Second, such a cooperative should receive the maximum possible tax advantages including exemption from our State sales and B & O taxes for at least the next ten years and until such time that it turns a profit of at least one billion dollars.
· Third, as a condition of receiving these billions of dollars in tax breaks, this new employee owned company would agree that as much production as possible, including sub-contractor work, would occur here in the State of Washington.
· Fourth, should this new company ever leave the State of Washington, they would be required to pay back all tax breaks given to them.
· Finally, in order to pay for the tax breaks to be given to this new company, we should immediately eliminate any further tax breaks to the Boeing Company and require them to pay their full share of State sales taxes and B & O taxes. In short, we should only give tax breaks to companies who are committed to protecting and preserving the aerospace industry here in the State of Washington.
We may not be able to do much about the upper management of Boeing committing suicide, but we can and should protect the aerospace industry and aerospace workers in Washington State from going down with them. I therefore hope you will consider drafting such a bill for consideration and approval during the 2010 legislative session.
David Spring, M. Ed.
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance has compiled a great list of citizen lobby days in Olympia for a variety of public interest groups for the 2009 Session of the Washington State Legislature.
Here is the current list of Legislative Lobby Days:
Jan 15 National Alliance on Mental Illness Day
Jan 15 Washington Assoc.. of Colleges for Teacher Education Lobby Day
Jan 19 People’s Summit& March on the Capitol
Jan 19 Washington Assoc. for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention Day
Jan 28 Annual Disability Legislative Reception
Jan 28 Head Start/ECEAP
Jan 28 Indian Child Welfare Awareness Day
Jan 29 Hiker Lobby Day
Feb 4 Am Cancer Society, Am Lung Assoc. & Am Heart Assoc. Jt Lobby Day
Feb 5 American Pacific American Legislative Day
Feb 6 Gifted Education Day
Feb 9 Service Employees Intl Union Lobby Day – SEIU 775
Feb 10 Refugee and Immigrant Legislative Day
Feb 10 Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
Feb 11 March of Dimes
Feb 12 Washington CAN! Day
Feb 12 Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition Advocacy Day
Feb 13 Youth Advocacy Day
Feb 16 King County Democrats Legislative Action Day
Feb 16 Big Brothers Big Sisters Lead Big! Advocacy Day
Feb 16 National Assoc. of Social Workers Days
Feb 17 2009 Washington State Senior Citizens Lobby Days (1)
Feb 18 AIDS Awareness & Action Day
Feb 19 Environmental Priorities Coalition Lobby Day
Feb 22-23 Jr League of Washington Capitol Days
Feb 23 Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice Lobby Day
Feb 24 Catholic Advocacy Day
Feb24 Housing Advocacy Day
Feb 24 Transportation Advocacy Day
Feb 24 Unity Day
Feb 26 WA State Parent Teacher Assoc. – 2009 Leg. Focus Day
Feb 27 Have a Heart for Children Day
Mar 5 Toxic Free Legacy Lobby Day
Mar 5 Washington CAN! Lobby Day
Mar 10 Healthy Washington Coalition Lobby Day
Mar 13 Hispanic/Latino Legislative Day
Mar 17 Fund Families First: Faith Advocacy Day
Mar 19 Statewide Domestic Violence Day
Mar 20 Hunger Action Day
Mar 25 2009 WA State Senior Citizen’s Lobby Days (2)
Go to http://www.wilha.org/ to get more details for specific lobby days.
State Representative Bill Grant passed away on Sunday from lung cancer. Grant was 71 years old and had been diagnosed only a month previously with cancer. Grant was a conservative Democrat representing the 16th Legislative District in eastern Washington, including Walla Walla and Pasco.
Democrats from eastern Washington are a rare breed as it is, so losing one is of note. Grant was a wheat farmer and was the only Democrat in eastern Washington representing a mostly rural area. Grant was a member of the Democratic House Leadership serving as Caucus Chair.
Grant was a member of 3 committees for this upcoming session – Agriculture and Natural Resources, Rules and Ways and Means. A number of people do remembrances of Grant over on the comment thread at Horsesass.org.
As tricityherald.com notes Grant served in the Legislature for 22 years and had just been re-elected to another term. The Secretary of State’s election results for his race showed that he defeated Republican Terry R Nealey 27,648 votes to 23,673.
Republican Senator Mike Hewitt ran unopposed. Republican Maureen Walsh easily defeated her Democratic opponent, Dante Lee Montoya 36,697 votes to 13, 885 votes, for the other House seat in the district.
Republicans will have to wait 2 years however to try to pick up the seat as the Washington State Constitution says that the person appointed to fill a legislative vacancy must be the same party as the previous elected seat holder.
Article II, Section 15 of the Washington State Constitution provides that
“… in case of a vacancy occurring in the office of joint senator, or joint representative, the vacancy shall be filled from a list of three nominees selected by the state central committee, by appointment by the joint action of the boards of county legislative authorities of the counties composing the joint senatorial or joint representative district, the person appointed to fill the vacancy must be from the same legislative district and of the same political party as the legislator whose office has been vacated, and in case a majority of the members of the county legislative authority do not agree upon the appointment within sixty days after the vacancy occurs, the governor shall within thirty days thereafter, and from the list of nominees provided for herein, appoint a person who shall be from the same legislative district and of the same political party as the legislator whose office has been vacated.
[AMENDMENT 96, 2003 House Joint Resolution No. 4206, p 2819. Approved November 4, 2003.]“
Joint action is required because the 16th LD is composed of parts of Benton and Franklin County as well as all of Walla Walla and Columbia County.
The Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus has posted their leadership positions and committee assignments for the 2009 Legislative Session on the Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus website.
Because Legislators elected last November do not assume their office until they are sworn in on January 12, 2009, the official state website for the Washington State Legislature http://www.leg.wa.gov/ still currently lists Legislators from 2007 -2008.
This can be confusing since a number of those listed on http://www.leg.wa.gov/ will not be in the 2009 Legislature because they retired or lost election in Nov. 2008. Likewise some Legislators elected for the first time in November 2008 to serve in the 2009 Legislature do not appear on the website until Jan 12, 2008. The list below is for the 2009 Legislature and shows leadership and committee assignments for Democrats who will be in the 2009 Legislature.
Democrats are the majority party in Washington State in both the House and the Senate and hence control the leadership positions and the Committee Chairs.
The 2009 Legislative session will start on Jan.12, 2009 and last for 105 days, until April 26, 2009. The almost $6 billion projected budget deficit will make this a difficult session as vested interests will be competing for a greatly diminished pool of dollars.
Governor Gregoire is opposing any new taxes because of a campaign pledge she made when she was engaged in a tight re-election race with Republican Dino Rossi. Unfortunately this limits her ability to deal with raising revenue to maintain basic needed services.
One option the state needs to look at is revenue lost from past special interest tax exemptions. In a time of budget shortfalls the misery should be spread around and past tax exemptions need to be evaluated as to their current value and priority.
Tax exemptions represent an allocation of potential state revenues and are equivalent to expenditures of funds in the overall budget. If the rest of the budget is taking a 10% cut, for example, it makes sense to also target a 10% reduction in tax exemptions for special interests.
Does it make sense, for example, to give a tax break to soft drink syrup makers or pesticide sales while cutting teacher pay raises? It’s a question of priorities. The Legislature needs to seriously weight the social and economic value of special interest tax breaks versus kid’s health care or education in this time of a serious budget shortfall. Tax exemptions represent revenue lost that could fund basic services. Tough choices need to be made.
2009 Washington State Senate Democratic Leadership positions:
Senate Majority Leader: Lisa Brown, 3rd District, Spokane
Senate Majority Caucus Chair: Ed Murray, 43rd District, Seattle
Senate Majority Floor Leader: Tracey J. Eide, 30th District, Federal Way
Majority Whip: Chris Marr, 6th District, Spokane
President Pro Tempore: Rosa Franklin, 29th District, Tacoma
Vice President Pro Tempore: Paull Shin, 21st District, Edmonds
Majority Caucus Vice Chair: Debbie Regala, 27th District, Tacoma
Majority Assistant Floor Leader: Joe McDermott, 34th District, Seattle
Majority Assistant Whip: Claudia Kauffman, 47th District, Kent
2009 Washington State Senate Democrats Committee Assignments:
Agriculture & Rural Economic Development :
Chair: Brian Hatfield
Vice-Chair: Kevin Ranker
Mary Margaret Haugen , Ken Jacobsen , Paull Shin
Early Learning & K-12 Education
Chair: Rosemary McAuliffe
Vice-Chair for Early Learning: Claudia Kauffman
Vice Chair for K-12: Eric Oemig
Steve Hobbs, Fred Jarrett, Joe McDermott, Rodney Tom
Economic Development, Trade & Innovation:
Chair: Jim Kastama
Vice-Chair: Paull Shin
Tracey Eide , Derek Kilmer
EDTI International Relations Subcommittee
Chair: Paull Shin
Tracey Eide, Jim Kastama
Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance :
Chair: Jean Berkey
Vice-Chair: Steve Hobbs
Rosa Franklin, Margarita Prentice
Government Operations & Elections:
Chair: Darlene Fairley
Vice-Chair: Eric Oemig
Joe McDermott, Craig Pridemore
Health & Long-Term Care:
Chair: Karen Keiser
Vice-Chair: Rosa Franklin
Darlene Fairley, Chris Marr, Ed Murray, Margarita Prentice
Higher Education and Workforce Development:
Chair: Derek Kilmer
Vice-Chair: Fred Jarrett
Ken Jacobsen, Jim Kastama, Rosemary McAuliffe, Paull Shin
Human Services & Correstions:
Chair: Jim Hargrove
Vice-Chair: Debbie Regala
Claudia Kauffman, Rosemary McAuliffe
Chair: Adam Kline
Jim Hargrove, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Rodney Tom
Labor, Commerce, Research & Development:
Chair: Jeanne Kohl-Welles
Vice-Chair: Karen Keiser
Rosa Franklin, Adam Kline
Natural Resources, Ocean & Recreation:
Chair: Ken Jacobsen
Vice-Chair: Kevin Ranker
Karen Fraser, Jim Hargrove , Brian Hatfield
Chair: Lt. Gov. Brad Owen
Vice-Chair: Rosa Franklin
Lisa Brown, Tracey J. Eide, Karen Fraser , Mary Margaret Haugen, Claudia Kauffman , Karen Keiser, Chris Marr, Ed Murray, Craig Pridemore, Debbie Regala
Chair:Mary Margaret Haugen
Vice-Chair: Chris Marr
Jean Berkey, Tracey J. Eide, Ken Jacobsen, Fred Jarrett, Jim Kastama, Claudia Kauffman, Derek Kilmer, Kevin Ranker, Tim Sheldon
Environment, Water & Energy:
Chair: Phil Rockefeller
Vice-Chair: Craig Pridemore
Karen Fraser, Brian Hatfield, Chris Marr, Kevin Ranker, Tim Sheldon
Ways & Means:
Chair: Sen. Margarita Prentice
Vice-Chair – Capital Budget: Karen Fraser
Vice-Chair – Operating Budget: Rodney Tom
Darlene Fairley, Steve Hobbs, Karen Keiser, Adam Kline, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Joe McDermott, . Ed Murray, Eric Oemig, Craig Pridemore, Debbie Regala, Phil Rockefeller
The House Democratic Caucus in the Washington State Legislature has announced its committee assignments for House Democrats for the 2009 -2010 Legislative session starting in January. The official Washington State Legislative website at www.leg.wa.gov has not yet been updated for the 2009 – 2010 session since Legislators for the last session serve through the end of 2008.
This information is taken from the House Democratic caucus website which is a good site to visit to keep up on what is happening prior to the session and during the session by the Democrats which control the House.
Committee Assignments for 2009 -2010 Democratic Legislators:
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Chair: Brian Blake
Vice Chair: Jim Jacks
Bill Grant, Christopher Hurst, John McCoy, Sharon Nelson, Timm Ormsby, Kevin Van De Wege
Audit Review and Oversight
Chair: Mark Miloscia
Vice Chair: Brendan Williams
Frank Chopp, Fred Finn, Tami Green, Bob Hasegawa, Troy Kelley, Kelli Linville, Jeff Morris, Deb Wallace
Chair: Hans Dunshee
Vice Chair: Timm Ormsby
Brian Blake, Maralyn Chase, Jim Jacks, Marcie Maxwell, Tina Orwall, Scott White
Commerce and Labor
Chair: Steve Conway
Vice Chair: Alex Wood
Tami Green, Jim Moeller, Brendan Williams
Community and Economic Development and Trade
Chair: Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney
Vice Chair: Marcie Maxwell
Maralyn Chase, Marko Liias, Tim Probst, Pat Sullivan
Early Learning and Children’s Services
Chair: Ruth Kagi
Vice Chair: Mary Helen Roberts
Roger Goodman, Larry Seaquist
Ecology and Parks
Chair: Dave Upthegrove
Vice Chair: Christine Rolfes
Maralyn Chase, Mary Lou Dickerson, Hans Dunshee, Deb Eddy, Fred Finn, Zack Hudgins, Jeff Morris
Chair: Dave Quall
Vice Chair: Tim Probst
Sam Hunt, Marko Liias, Marcie Maxwell, Tina Orwall, Sharon Tomiko Santos, Pat Sullivan
Chair: Kathy Haigh
Vice Chair: Pat Sullivan
Reuven Carlyle, Ross Hunter, Ruth Kagi, Tim Probst, Dave Quall, Christine Rolfes, Deb Wallace
Chair: Tom Campbell
Vice Chair: Maralyn Chase
Mary Lou Dickerson, Hans Dunshee, Fred Finn, Zack Hudgins, Christine Rolfes
Chair: Ross Hunter
Vice Chair: Bob Hasegawa
Steve Conway, Mark Ericks, Sharon Tomiko Santos, Larry Springer
Financial Institutions and Insurance
Chair: Steve Kirby
Vice Chair: Troy Kelley
Christopher Hurst, John McCoy, Sharon Nelson, Sharon Tomiko Santos, Geoff Simpson
General Government Appropriations
Chair: Jeannie Darneille
Vice Chair: Dean Takko
Brian Blake, Hans Dunshee, Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, Jamie Pedersen, Mike Sells, Kevin Van De Wege, Brendan Williams
Health and Human Services Appropriations
Chair: Eric Pettigrew
Vice Chair: Larry Seaquist
Sherry Appleton, Eileen Cody, Mary Lou Dickerson, Mark Miloscia, Dawn Morrell, Al O’Brien, Mary Helen Roberts, Alex Wood
Health Care and Wellness
Chair: Eileen Cody
Vice Chair: John Driscoll
Tami Green, Troy Kelley, Jim Moeller, Dawn Morrell, Jamie Pedersen
Chair: Deb Wallace
Vice Chair: Mike Sells
Reuven Carlyle, John Driscoll, Bob Hasegawa, Scott White
Chair: Mary Lou Dickerson
Vice Chair: Tina Orwall, Tami Green, Dawn Morrell, Al O’Brien
Chair: Jamie Pedersen
Vice Chair: Roger Goodman
Dennis Flannigan, Troy Kelley, Steve Kirby, Timm Ormsby, Mary Helen Roberts
Local Government and Housing
Chair: Geoff Simpson
Vice Chair: Sharon Nelson
Mark Miloscia, Larry Springer, Dave Upthegrove, Scott White, Brendan Williams
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Chair: Christopher Hurst
Vice Chair: Al O’Brien
Sherry Appleton, Roger Goodman, Steve Kirby, Mary Helen Roberts
Chair: Frank Chopp
Deb Eddy,Mark Ericks, Bill Grant, Tami Green, Bob Hasegawa, Zack Hudgins, Troy Kelley, Lynn Kessler, Jim Moeller, Dawn Morrell, Jeff Morris, Sharon Tomiko Santos, Larry Springer, Kevin Van De Wege
State Government and Tribal Affairs
Chair: Sam Hunt
Vice-Chair: Sherry Appleton
Dennis Flannigan, Zack Hudgins, Mark Miloscia
Technology, Energy and Communications
Chair: John McCoy
Vice Chair: Deb Eddy
Reuven Carlyle, Fred Finn, Bob Hasegawa, Zack Hudgins, Jim Jacks, Jeff Morris, Dean Takko, Kevin Van De Wege
Chair: Judy Clibborn
Vice Chair: Marko Liias
Mary Lou Dickerson, John Driscoll, Deb Eddy, Fred Finn, Dennis Flannigan, Jim Moeller, Jeff Morris, Christine Rolfes, Mike Sells, Geoff Simpson, Larry Springer, Dean Takko, Dave Upthegrove, Deb Wallace, Brendan Williams, Alex Wood
Ways and Means
Chair: Kelli Linville
Vice Chair: Mark Ericks
Eileen Cody,Steve Conway, Jeannie Darneille, Bill Grant, Kathy Haigh, Sam Hunt, Ross Hunter, Ruth Kagi, Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, Lynn Kessler, Eric Pettigrew, Larry Seaquist, Pat Sullivan
The House Republicans on Dec 18, 2008 announced their lead minority committee members but I don’t see any announcement yet of what committees House members not in leadership will serve on.
Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp, was the guest speaker this afternoon at the King County Democrats Legislative Action Committee, meeting in South Seattle. Chopp emphasized that much of the 2009 Legislative session will be spent dealing with the upcoming budget that is constrained by a projected $5 billion dollar shortfall.
As noted by the Progressive States Network, “The Washington State Legislature passed strong laws protecting the environment, consumers and people affected by the mortgage crisis, making the state one of the leaders in progressive victories.” Speaker Chopp noted that under his leadership the legislature will be focusing on 10 key areas, continuing to move the state forward on addressing problems.
Apple Health is one of these areas – combining kids’ health care with getting a good education. “In order to succeed in school , kids need to be healthy,” said Chopp. By 2010 every kid in Washington State should be covered by a health care program – putting Washington State in the lead NATIONALLY in this area.
Another area is the Opportunity Grant Program – providing financial aid for training programs and colleges and universities. This program is expected to cover 1 million people over 7 years.
In discussing some of the areas the LAC was concerned with, Speaker Chopp reiterated his support for adequate funding for the Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing.
Under the banner of a Homeowner’s Bill of Rights, Chopp saw 3 areas being worked on:
1. raising licensing requirements and worker certification
2. an ombudsman’s office for consumer protection
3. providing remedies when things go wrong
On the issue of income source nondiscrimination, Chopp noted the House previously passed such legislation but the Senate didn’t.
On the budget, Chopp said we needed to put education first but support human services like Apple Health care and foster kids. He said that kids needed to come first in health care issues.
He praised the environmental community for their continued efforts to prioritize bills. He expressed some reservations about a cap and trade program to control carbon emissions noting the new terminology of cap and invest better explained what was happening to the money. He noted that the biggest carbon emitter in the state was the Centralia Coal plant and emphasized the need for alternatives as a way to change things.
On the issue of transit oriented communities he discussed the option of hotel and motel taxes going to help fund transit nodes, not just public art. On clean water he said the biggest problem was the need for a funding source and suggested that because of I-960 requiring a vote of 2/3 of the Legislature for a tax increase that submitting selected revenue proposals to the voters to raise new revenue made the most sense.
On the issue of public campaign financing, Chopp noted that the Legislature in its last session supported the local option for public campaign financing. Proponents for public financing are urging that the Legislature this year put in place a public finance scheme for State Supreme Court races. The problem remains one of finding a funding source this year. Chopp noted that several other proposals passed by the Legislature in the past face a similar funding dilemma – namely no money for the working family tax credit and the family leave program.
Chopp noted that several Legislators will be looking at voter registration issues. The LAC noted that nationally efforts are moving to promote automatic permanent voter registration or universal registration. Minnesota passed such legislation last year. Rather than opting in, voters would have to opt out of voter registration. Address changes to the Post Office and DMV and other government agencies would automatically transfer one’s voter registration to the new address, rather than forcing voters to re-register. The backup safety for voters is same day registration in case errors occur. Iowa is among the dozen states that already do this.
The LAC discussed the need for reform or repeal of the Three Strikes Law noting that inequities exist where a low priority 3rd strike can commit the state to paying for someone being in jail for the rest of their life. This was discussed as a possible source of funds that could be freed up if selective reforms took place.
Chopp avoided a detailed discussion of repealing non-performing tax breaks and other tax breaks that are not needed saying the Legislative Audit Committee was looking at this. He noted that repeal of a tax break required a 2/3 vote because of I-960, basically making reform difficult. The LAC noted that this more or less epitomized the problem, that once tax breaks were granted they became permanent, even when not fulfilling their original purpose and that tax breaks needed to be enacted for a set period of time, like 10 years and require a new vote to continue. Automatic sunsetting would help prevent the tax breaks for life problem.
The LAC voted to approve its draft Legislative Agenda and add 2 more areas in its coverage, “Education” and “Jobs and Labor”.
Under Education would be an education reform bill covering a number of areas, including closing the achievement gap and legislation to implement the recommendations of the basic education finance task force.
Under Labor and Jobs would be legislation for contractor compliance to help the state secure revenue lost by nondisclosure. This is sometimes referred to as the problem of the underground economy – where tax revenue is lost because financial transactions are not reported
Under Environment two additional bills will be watched. One is for a secure medicine return bill and the other is a bill to help foster recycling of compact fluorescent lights which contain mercury.
The Democrats in the House have finalized their committees for the 2009-2010 Washington State Legislative session and have selected the committee chairs. The Legislature will convene its session on the 2nd Monday of January which is January 12, 2009. It is a 105 day session lasting until April 26, 2009.
The session will be constrained by the current financial crisis which projects a $5 billion dollar budget shortfall. Governor Gregoire will release her preliminary budget later this month.
2009-2010 House Committees and Chairs are:
Agriculture and Natural Resources: Brian Blake (Aberdeen)
Audit Review and Oversight: Mark Miloscia (Federal Way)
Capital Budget: Hans Dunshee (Snohomish)
Commerce and Labor: Steve Conway (Tacoma)
Community and Economic Development and Trade: Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney (Seattle)
Early Learning and Children’s Services: Ruth Kagi (Lake Forest Park)
Ecology and Parks: Dave Upthegrove (Des Moines)
Education: Dave Quall (Mount Vernon)
Education Appropriations: Kathy Haigh (Shelton)
Environmental Health: Tom Campbell (Roy)
Finance: Ross Hunter (Medina)
Financial Institutions and Insurance: Steve Kirby (Tacoma)
General Government Appropriations: Jeannie Darneille (Tacoma)
Health and Human Services Appropriations: Eric Pettigrew (Seattle)
Health Care and Wellness: Eileen Cody (Seattle)
Higher Education: Deb Wallace (Vancouver)
Human Services: Mary Lou Dickerson (Seattle)
Judiciary: Jamie Pedersen (Seattle)
Local Government and Housing: Geoff Simpson (Covington)
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: Christopher Hurst (Enumclaw)
Rules: Frank Chopp (Seattle)
State Government and Tribal Affairs: Sam Hunt (Olympia)
Technology, Energy and Communications: John McCoy (Tulalip)
Transportation: Judy Clibborn (Mercer Island)
Ways and Means: Kelli Linville (Bellingham)
Additionally, two vice chairs were also selected:
Ways and Means: Mark Ericks (Bothell)
Capital Budget: Timm Ormsby (Spokane)
The Democrats note that “the major change in committee structure is the creation of the Ways and Means committee. The Education Appropriations, General Government Appropriations, and Health and Human Services Appropriations committees are now standing committees that will make funding recommendations to the Ways and Means committee.”
Back in November the House Democrats chose their leadership team:
Frank Chopp (Seattle) – Speaker-elect
Lynn Kessler (Hoquiam) – Majority Leader
Bill Grant (Walla-Walla) – Caucus Chair
Sharon Tomiko Santos (Seattle) – Majority Whip
Jeff Morris (Mount Vernon) – Speaker pro-tem-elect
Jim Moeller (Vancouver) – Deputy Speaker pro-tem-elect
Dec 10, 2008 update:
The House Democrats have selected the rest of their leadership team. In addition to the above names, the following were chosen to fill leadership roles:
Zack Hudgins (Tukwila)-Majority Floor Leader:
Larry Springer (Kirkland) – Majority Caucus Liaison:
Dawn Morrell (Puyallup) – Caucus Vice Chair:
Tami Green (Lakewood) – Assistant Majority Floor Leader:
Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) – Deputy Majority Whip:
For more information and to track the bills, committee meetings, legislators and legislative action in the 2009 Washington State Legislative session go to www.leg.wa.gov and follow the links. The site is still not updated for 2009 Legislators because Legislators elected in 2007 serve through the end of their terms which is Dec 31, 2008. The site should be updated in January 2009.
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