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Tag: Sam Hunt


Protests not stopping move of Governor’s Inaugural Ball to Lacey

Olympia Rep. Sam Hunt said he doesn’t think elected officials will be able to stop the venue change for the Governor’s Inaugural Ball.

The Jan. 16 ball is being held this year at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey instead of its traditional home at the state Capitol, a move many legislators oppose. Hunt said he and Secretary of State Sam Reed met with Dan Neuhauser, chairman of the committee organizing the ball, to urge reconsideration but was told a contract had been signed with St. Martin’s and invitations printed, and that the Capitol posed too many logistical problems. ”They basically blew us off,”

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Washington to shift to all vote-by-mail elections

Polling places are officially a thing of the past in Pierce County.

Under Senate Bill 5124, which Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law Tuesday, Washington will move to an entirely vote-by-mail system, a move supporters say will add clarity to state law and save money, but opponents say robs Pierce County of its right to choose in-person voting.

“It’s a good day,” said Rep. Sam Hunt, who has sponsored legislation to move Washington to an entirely vote-by-mail system every year since 2008. “This will give us one uniform voting system in the state.”

The bill, which goes into effect in July, replaces a 2005 law that allowed Washington counties to choose to vote by mail or offer both mail-in ballots and polling places. Pierce County is the only one that held on to polling places until now.

Pierce County auditor Julie Anderson said the new law means voters in the county will vote entirely by mail for the first time this fall, and they’ll receive notifications in the mail about how the new system will work soon.

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No action on heritage bill, other mergers after Democrats split

It was an odd morning in the House State Government Committee as lawmakers came back from their party caucuses only to adjourn the meeting without any action.

The committee was scheduled to weigh in on some big decisions: whether to abolish the state printer, merge ethics and elections watchdogs, and move Heritage Center construction funding to a new department that would preserve the state history museums and Arts Commission.

It didn’t happen because Democrats didn’t have the votes.

Specifically, they didn’t have Rep. Mark Miloscia’s vote. The Federal Way Democrat who often breaks with his party was ready

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Groups respond to revenue forecast with rally against cuts to state programs

PETER HALEY/The News Tribune

In response to today’s revenue forecast, which estimates the state’s budget shortfall for the next two years will be about $5.3 billion, about 1,000 teachers, health care workers students and others crowded onto the Capitol steps, calling for lawmakers to end tax exemptions rather than cutting education and social programs.

The rally, organized by a group called Our Economic Future Coalition, is one of several that have taken place in Olympia so far this session advocating tax increases rather than cuts in the biennial budget, though state lawmakers say that approach would be very difficult politically.

Collin Jergens, a spokesman for to event’s organizers said the purpose of the rally was to remind lawmakers that they have a choice between adding taxes and cutting social services.

“The new revenue forecast just underscores the need for the Legislature to take a balanced approach,” he said.

So far this session several bills have been introduced that would remove some tax exemptions including House Bill 1847 and Senate Bill 5816, both of which would add taxes to coal, private jets and plastic surgery in Washington and use the money to pay for a state-subsidized health insurance program for low-income state residents.

Doing so could bring in about $120 million per year, according to the bills’ fiscal notes.

Ideas like this could be hard to get through the Legislature, though, because in November voters approved Initiative 1053, which requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes.

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Hearing shows widespread support for Rep. Hunt’s spirits sampling bill and Rep. Kenney’s beer and wine tasting in farmers markets

From wine growers to farmers market leaders to state representatives, speakers at a House committee hearing to expand sampling of alcoholic drinks in Washington were generally supportive of the idea.

The House Committee on State Government and Tribal Affairs on Wednesday heard widespread positive testimony on two bills, HB 1202 and HB 1172, that would set up pilot projects to try spirits sampling at liquor stores and beer and wine sampling at farmers markets.

If passed, the bills would expand upon a 2010 measure that allows grocery stores to get a license from the liquor control board to provide on-premises beer and wine samples, a program that liquor board representatives say has been largely successful.

Supporters of the bills, sponsored by Rep. Sam Hunt and Rep. Phyllis Kenney, argued that most states allow sampling and the restrictions included in the bills would make sure it happened in a careful, controlled way.

“Wines have been kind of a godsend for our operation—it has allowed us to keep our people employed, pay mortgages, etc.,” said Wade Bennett, a farmer and wine maker who testified at the hearing in support of the farmers market bill.

“We think it’s very important to our prosperity,” he said of the bill.

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Bill by Rep. Appleton would regulate campaign calls and push polls

A bill under consideration in the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee would set up disclosure requirements for election campaign phone calls, an area that state law does not strictly regulate.

House Bill 1038, sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton, would require that groups making 500 or more similar phone calls for a candidate or ballot measure and all groups conducting persuasive polls, or “push polls,” in an election include the sponsor’s name, city and state at the beginning of the call.

(Here’s our previous coverage of the effort.)

“It’s truth in advance and that’s what we’re all about,” said Appleton referring to campaign call requirements in a hearing on the bill Thursday morning. “We do it for consumer protection, we do it for banks, but we don’t do it here.”

The bill comes after record-breaking spending in the 2010 election, especially by groups trying to influence public opinion on ballot measures.

Representatives from Washington Public Campaigns, the Public Disclosure Commission and the League of Women Voters came to the hearing in support of the bill, but Rep. Sam Hunt, chairman of the State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee, said he was not happy with the bill in its present form.

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Better chance this time for vote-by-mail, supporters say

Olympia Rep. Sam Hunt says he thinks the odds are better this year for his renewed attempt to make the whole state vote by mail. Elections officials in Secretary of State Sam Reed‘s office, too, are optimistic the effort will succeed.

The practical effects of an all-mail switch would be felt only in Pierce County. The other 38 counties in the state already vote entirely by mail, while Pierce County hangs on to polling places for the minority of voters who don’t want to mail their ballots.

In November, roughly 29,000 votes came from poll sites, nearly 11 percent of those cast in the county.

Tacoma freshman Reps. Connie Ladenburg and Laurie Jinkins have signed on to Hunt’s bill, and several other House Democrats support the idea. Past all-mail bills have cruised through the House but gotten bottled up in the Senate.

Last year, a bill by Hunt made it out of a key Senate committee but was blocked after objections from Pierce County senators including Democratic Sen. Rosa Franklin.

Sen. Steve Conway, a Tacoma Democrat who replaced the retiring Franklin, said he would oppose it, but said it’s too soon to say if he would try to keep it from coming to a vote.

“To me, our county will come to this decision on their own like all the other counties have,” Conway said. “When we’re the only county that hasn’t chosen this, I don’t really appreciate a bill trying to mandate it.”

Pierce County’s top elections official wants her county to join the rest. County Auditor Julie Anderson testified today in support of Hunt’s bill.

Anderson mainly points to the low turnout. But she reminded lawmakers poll sites also cost money. Eliminating them for the 2012 elections would save at least $80,000, she said, and that doesn’t count upcoming costs of hiring translators at polling places.

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Environmentalists sort out ‘champions’ from ‘duds’

An environmental group praises Reps. Skip Priest and Geoff Simpson as “champions” while singling out Reps. Christopher Hurst and Troy Kelley and Sen. Tim Sheldon as “green duds.”

Washington Conservation Voters released its scorecard today, ranking each legislator on their environmental votes in 2009 and 2010 on a scale of 0-100.

South Sound legislators Hurst, Kelley and Sheldon are among five Democrats — the others are Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and Rep. Tim Probst — who come in for criticism.

Hurst’s and Kelley’s votes in this year’s special session to put energy-efficient upgrades of schools on the ballot weren’t enough to save them from the group’s ire. The Conservation Voters website says Hurst and Kelley earned low 44 percent ratings when they “voted against clean water, against the protection of our shorelines, against energy efficient televisions, and against transit for Pierce County.” They call Hurst’s record “shameful” and “likely (to) backfire on him in the near future” and say Kelley is “severely out of step with both his party and his constituents.”

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