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Archives: April 2011

April
22nd

Rollcall: How your lawmakers voted on medical pot, health partnership, canceling primary

Here is how South Sound lawmakers voted recently on selected bills, as compiled by WashingtonVotes.org. Visit their website for a searchable database of issues and votes.

Senate Bill 5119, Canceling the 2012 Presidential Primary
SB 5119, which passed the Senate by a vote of 34 to 15, would cancel the Presidential Primary scheduled to be held on the fourth Tuesday of May in 2012. Canceling the Presidential Primary would save the state an estimated cost of about $10 million. This would not be the first time the state canceled a Presidential Primary, in 2004 it was also canceled. This provision expires January 1, 2013. SB 5119 also passed the House by a vote of 69 to 28 and is now before the governor for her signature.

Voting Yes: Sen. Randi Becker, (R – Eatonville), Sen. Karen Fraser, (D-Thurston County), Sen. Derek Kilmer, (D-Gig Harbor), Sen. Debbie Regala, (D-Tacoma), Sen. Steve Conway, (D-Tacoma), Sen. Tracey Eide, (D-Federal Way), Sen. Karen Keiser, (D-Kent)
Voting No: Sen. Jim Kastama, (D-Puyallup), Sen. Michael Carrell, (R-Lakewood), Sen. Pam Roach, (R-Auburn), Sen. Joe Fain, (R – Auburn)
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April
22nd

Legislature to return Tuesday for special session

They’re better than Congress.

Gov. Chris Gregoire offered that faint praise for state lawmakers today in response to questions about why they couldn’t finish their work in the constitutionally allotted 105 days, after announcing she would call them back for a special session that will start Tuesday and last up to 30 days.

Lawmakers plan to adjourn their regular session two days early today, take a long Easter weekend, then come back to Olympia to resume work on the budget. Everybody hopes the levels of gridlock will stay well below the bar set by Congress.

Gregoire decided to start the

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April
22nd

Senate vote ends automatic COLAs for retirees

The Senate’s vote this morning on one of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s pension reform bills drew divided support from Democrats and Republicans. Substitute House Bill 2021 gets rid of automatic yearly increases in pension payments to the state’s Teachers Plan 1 and Public Employees Plan 1 participants. But it adds a higher minimum payment for those who retired long ago.

It passed by a 28-17 vote with 18 Democrats and 10 Republicans in favor. The measure passed the House on a divided vote of 52-45 on Thursday and now goes

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April
22nd

In case you’re wondering what your legislators have been doing …

If only their problems writing a budget could be solved this easily.

UPDATE 12:45 p.m.: Someone has taken down the light-hearted video from YouTube, perhaps the Senate videographers who apparently made it.

You’ll just have to imagine it: a bipartisan cast of pols including Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Sen. Nick Harper of Everett, Sen. Rodney Tom of Medina and Rep. Bill Hinkle of Cle Elum, mugging for the camera with staff and lobbyists as they advertise a machine that turns a bill that “sucks” into a great one.

April
22nd

Legal challenge possible on cut to alternative education

A lawsuit is brewing over the Legislature’s proposed cuts to online learning and other non-school-based education, which supporters say is part of students’ right to basic eduction under the state constitution and can’t legally be reduced.

But lawmakers may be backing away from those cuts.

School districts can claim basic-education funding for so-called Alternative Learning Experiences that mainly happen away from their campuses. House budget writers have proposed cutting that ALE money by 20 percent, saying the programs need less money per student than do traditional brick-and-mortar schools with secretaries and custodians. The Senate countered with a 10 percent cut.

Former Rep. Gigi Talcott of the group Washington Families for Online Learning warned in a news release that cutting the basic education of more than 50,000 students in ALE programs is “unprecedented and sets the state up for another legal challenge.” She was in Olympia this week showing lawmakers an analysis by the attorney she has retained, Steve O’Ban, saying lawmakers risked a constitutional challenge.

O’Ban said a lawsuit is “on the table” if the funding cut goes through. Read more »

April
22nd

Morning update: Day 103

Today is expected to be sine die, the day the Legislature adjourns.

But like last year, it will be an anti-climactic ending as lawmakers prepare to come back for a special session.

We should find out today from Gov. Chris Gregoire exactly when they will be back. Will it be immediately after the Easter weekend, as the Senate prefers? Or will they wait until they have a deal before bringing everyone back to Olympia, as the House has suggested? Either way, when they return many of them will lose their offices as temporary modular buildings come down.

Today lawmakers may do some

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