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Tag: Mike Hewitt


Mike Hewitt won’t lead Senate Republicans

State Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt announced today he would step down from the top position in the GOP caucus after seven years, saying he aims to “to promote new Senate leadership from the center.”

It’s one more sign that it’s a new era in the Senate. Top GOP budget writer Joe Zarelli didn’t run for re-election, so Republicans will have newcomers in their two most important jobs. Among Democrats, Majority Leader Lisa Brown didn’t run for re-election, and Ways and Means Committee chairman Ed Murray has replaced Brown, leaving an opening for a new top Democratic budget writer.

All this

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Sen. Hewitt has tumor; is ‘optimistic’ about surgery

Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla is undergoing surgery to remove a “thymoma tumor in his abdomen” on Monday in Seattle, he announced today.

The lawmaker learned earlier this week of the growth when undergoing testing at Capital Medical Center in Olympia, and he has been working from home in recent days awaiting surgery.

Hewitt, known for an upbeat demeanor, announced his situation in a statement that says:

Read full post.


Dems’ budget support still shaky in Senate; unclear if vote will happen

Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt predicts Democrats will force a vote in the Senate tonight on their budget that just passed the House, even though he says they don’t have the 25-vote majority they need.

“I think we’re 25 strong and maybe getting better,” Hewitt said.

So why vote? It’s “a blame game,” the Walla Walla minority leader said. Democrats are trying to pin the blame on Republicans for wanting to cut more to K-12 and more to higher education and for making the Legislature come back for special session, he said.

He said Democrats are to blame for

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Republicans argue lawmakers are distracted

Republicans argue lawmakers are spending their time on too many side issues.

Today Senate Republicans, who lately have tempered their criticism of majority Democrats who are working closely with them on the budget and other issues, told reporters the Legislature has “drifted” away from the budget, jobs and government reform. They noted hearings have been held or scheduled on:

Republicans also mentioned bills that haven’t received hearings, including limits on

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Bill would reform Washington’s prepaid college tuition program

With the future of higher education funding uncertain, lawmakers are looking to change the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition Program, saying that it could lead to budget problems down the road.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, and Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, have teamed up to sponsor Senate Bill 5749, which would change the program under which Washington parents can buy credits toward future college tuition for their children, but the program’s administrators say the proposed reforms could make it a less attractive investment.

Though the program is not in danger of running out of money at the moment, Brown said she was sponsoring the bill because nobody knows how much tuition will cost at state universities in a few years.

“I don’t think we have a very clear path forward for higher education funding at this point,” Brown said.

The current GET program allows parents to buy “units” that they can eventually use to pay for college. Buying 100 units guarantees a person one year of tuition and fees at the most expensive state university.

The proposed changes to the program would limit the amount that units can appreciate to an average of increases at all state colleges and universities, weighted based on the number of students going there, allow limits on the number of units people could buy and reduce the amount students who do not use their units could be refunded.

According to a 2009 report by the State Actuary, the risk of state money having to be used to bail out GET over the next fifty years is small, though under a worst case scenario—if people stopped buying into the program, for instance—the necessary state contribution could be significant.

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Will voters be asked for transportation taxes?

While the Legislature will largely be shying away from taxes in the session starting next week, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown is open to asking voters for new revenue for transportation projects.

“That is a possibility for us, putting together something that has statewide economic development impact,” Brown said. She brought up the issue at a panel discussion during this morning’s Associated Press Legislative Preview.

She left open what taxes could go up, but in the past lawmakers have turned to gas taxes. Money raised by increases in the gas tax last decade, first by a nickel and then by 9 1/2 cents, has funded hundreds of projects but is now running out.

Among the “mega-projects” that would need new revenue to get off the ground is an extension of state Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma, but there’s no guarantee that would make a list of funded projects. Brown said she would want to make sure the North-South Corridor in her hometown of Spokane gets a piece of any funding, and that mass transit and other non-road projects get their share. She also mentioned stormwater cleanup projects.

The other three legislative leaders weren’t crazy about the idea.

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Read the Roach investigation reports here

We’ve written previously about the state Senate investigation into complaints about Auburn Republican Pam Roach and her complaints into the behavior of Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt. I’m posting the full investigations here and here in case anyone is interested in more details.

The documents were obtained through a public records request, so the redactions are from the state’s lawyers. The highlighted portions are ours.


Cost of Pam Roach investigations: $55,000

The latest round of investigations involving state Sen. Pam Roach cost the state more than $55,000.

That’s according to documents released today by the Senate Facilities & Operations Committee, which issued a formal reprimand to Roach last month that led Senate Republicans to bar her from their caucus meetings.

Roach requested the committee reconsider the reprimand, but to no avail. The committee denied the request at its Monday meeting,  Senate Secretary Tom Hoemann said in a letter to Roach dated the same day.

The $55,413 cost was racked up by an outside law firm, Stokes Lawrence.

Attorney Chris

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