Sharp Divide In Washington Legislature Over Initiatives
The Democratic majority in Olympia continues to be unified in its rejection of Republican demands to give quick public hearings for initiatives that have reached the legislature.
The latest initiative to arrive would allow employees to opt out of the state's long-term health care program.
House Republican Assistant Floor Leader Peter Abbarno of Centralia says the importance of the initiative calls for special treatment.
"Nothing in the House or joint rules prohibits this motion and in fact the rules specifically allow for motions to suspend the rules to address important circumstances, like initiatives to the Legislature," said Abbarno.
He further said the people who signed the petition deserve a public hearing. "Mr. Speaker, the people of the great state of Washington have spoken and they expect us to listen," Abbarno said.
The sharp rhetoric has become commonplace in the early weeks of the current shortened three-month session as the two parties are sharply divided over the issues which are the subject matter of the initiatives.
They mostly deal with laws passed by Democrats, who have grown their majority in the legislature in recent years.
A total of six initiatives have been certified to have the required number of public signatures to reach the state legislature. They will all go to a public vote in November if lawmakers decline to pass them or offer an alternative.
The initiatives were all authored by Republican state Representative Jim Walsh of Aberdeen, and submitted by Let’s Go Washington, the conservative political committee sponsored by hedge-fund manager Brian Heywood. Walsh is also the chairman of the state Republican Party.
The Six initiatives in the legislature:
- Initiative 2113 - Police chases
- Initiative 2117 - Repeal the cap-and-trade law (Climate Commitment Act)
- Initiative 2109 - Repeal the capital gains tax
- Initiative-2081 - establish the parents’ bill of rights
- Initiative-2111 - ban state and local income taxes
- Initiative 2124 - allow employees to opt-out of the state's long-term health care insurance.
Surveys conducted by pollster Stuart Elway show support for repealing the capital gains tax, eliminating restrictions on police chases and establishing the parents’ bill of rights.
Al the state representatives the 7th, 12th and 13th districts of North Central Washington are Republican.
The senators and representatives in the 7th and 12th districts join the KPQ Legislative Hotline (Thursdays-Fridays 8:05am) on a rotating weekly basis and have expressed displeasure with the Democratic majority's refusal to fast-track public committee hearings in the initiatives.
Twelfth District Representative Mike Steele of Chelan is the House Deputy Minority Leader. He took to the floor of the House to call for quick consideration of the initiative to repeal the capital gains income tax.
"It should be directly referred to committee so that the people of Washington state have a chance to attend a hearing to discuss their ideas - to impart their notion to us," said Steele. "We've created this process as a state, and we should take it seriously - it should not be ignored."
Seventh District Representative Jacquelin Maycumber of Republic is the Minority Floor Leader. She spoke on the House floor in support of a quick public hearing on the initiative to loosen restrictions on police chases.
"We should be having public hearings and hearing the public comment to their elected officials," said Maycumber. "We have some horrific stories that we've heard that law enforcement could not apprehend or chase down a suspect, and that individual went up to commit more crimes or injured other people."
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