Political Buzz

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Archives: Jan. 2012

Jan.
31st

Court about to wrap up Stormans’ ‘Plan B’ case

A federal court judge is scheduled to hear closing arguments Wednesday morning in a pivotal Washington case that weighs the religious rights of pharmacists and a pharmacy owner against the legal duty to fill medical orders due.

Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia has challenged the state rule requiring pharmacies to stock and dispense medications that are in demand in a community – in this case, the Plan B and ella “morning after” treatments that can prevent pregnancies after sexual intercourse.

I wrote about the trial here in late November as it was about to begin in U.S. District Court

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Jan.
31st

UPDATE – ‘Fund education first’ bill finally gets hearing

House Republicans got a hearing this morning on an idea they’ve advocated for a few years: Making the Legislature lay out a budget for K-12 public schools and pass it before laying out other budgets.

As Republican Rep. Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup put it in testimony, House Bill 2533, would “shine a bright light” on the state’s paramount duty under the Constitution to amply fund “basic education.”

A recent state Supreme Court ruling underscored that duty, finding Washington is not living up to its duty. Dammeier said his bill would help bring transparency – though

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Jan.
31st

UPDATED Tacoma: Council set to consider fire union’s concessions, non-profit admissions tax plan

UPDATE: 6:08 p.m

The council unanimously approved tonight the concessions agreement with the fire union. It also voted to table the admissions tax proposal to give members more time to review it. The admissions tax issue is set to go back before the council’s Government Performance and Finance Committee on Feb. 15.

Original post

In the city’s continuing saga of an ongoing fiscal crisis, Tacoma’s City Council is expected to consider two measures tonight to help the city trudge ever ahead in dealing with a projected $33 million budget gap.

One measure expected to go before the council tonight involves

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Jan.
31st

Sen. Pam Roach’s trip to oil fields sparks pipeline push

After touring a booming oil-producing part of Northern Alberta, state Sen. Pam Roach today handed out vials of oil sands to supporters of a pipeline project that President Obama has rejected.

Here’s Roach’s blog post on the subject, which details her October trip to Fort McMurray, Alberta, and meetings with members of the Canadian Parliament. She wasn’t allowed to take the oil sands on the plane, she said, but a gallon of them was FedExed to her.

The proposed pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast may be far from Washington, but Roach wants the Legislature to formally go on record

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Jan.
31st

State bonds sell well despite ratings-outlook downgrade

Two national ratings agencies downgraded the “outlook” for Washington state finances to “negative” on Monday. Tom Banse of public radio had the story here.

Whatever the impact, the uncertainty did not get in the way of the state’s record $978 million bond refinancing this morning. Treasurer Jim McIntire’s office says the sale saves taxpayers $154 million, about $15 million of that in the current biennium.

McIntire also called it the “largest tax exempt competitive bond sale” in the country since the September 2008 financial crisis.

Jan.
31st

Rep. Asay talks to constituents today

Rep. Katrina Asay represents the 30th district centered on Federal Way, which under preliminary redistricting plans will include all of Milton, Algona and Pacific and part of Auburn.

From her news release:

Rep. Katrina Asay, R-Milton, invites constituents of the 30th District to participate in a telephone town hall meeting on Tuesday evening, Jan. 31, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The telephone town hall works much like a radio call-in talk show. Residents may dial-in to learn what is currently happening in Olympia, ask questions, participate in surveys, or just listen in. You may also be called –

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Jan.
30th

Morning update: Day 23

Today is the last day for House policy committees to vote on bills, unless they affect the budget.

Measures hanging on the deadline include a Republican-backed proposal allowing employers to pay new hires a training wage, 75 percent of minimum wage. It’s up for a public hearing this morning.

Another hearing on a GOP priority — this one on a budget-related measure — will take a look at whether lawmakers should write a separate budget for K-12 education. Here’s our post about Rep. Bruce Dammeier’s proposal and here’s the Tri-City Herald’s preview of the hearing.

Another public hearing

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Jan.
30th

One of three initiative-reform bills stays alive

A bill requiring initiative sponsors to identify their top five contributors in campaign advertising passed on a party line vote in the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee on Monday.

But that may be all there is for initiative reformers this year. Two other initiative bills – one to limit contributions to initiatives and another to require initiatives to identify new taxes to cover their costs – are expected to die at Tuesday’s first committee deadline for policy bills in the House.

House Bill 2499 requires the listing of names of the top five contributors for ads

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