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A Matter Of Opinion

Posts tagged: legislature

Lawmakers at work

For those who care about these things, the Website has posted its account of missed votes from this year’s regular and special sessions of the Legislature. It’s a valuable site if you like to keep track of legislative activity. The lawmaker who missed the most votes was Spokane Valley Sen. Bob McCaslin, who was hospitalized and underwent heart surgery during the session. His 491 missed votes were easily at the top of the pack.  No. 2, at 163,  was Rep. Chris Hurst, and Enumclaw Democrat, whose wife underwent brain surgery followed by a difficult recovery.  The five senators and six House members with the most missed votes were given a chance to explain, and most of them said it was personal or family health issues that  took them from Olympia when there was work to do. But Sen. Dale Brandland, R-Bellingham, cited merely “personal reasons” (well, yeah) and Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said he needed a family weekend.  My nomination for least justifiable, though, is Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, who missed 78 votes mainly because she is going to law school at night.

Looks like an all-cuts budget in Wash.

Income tax plan dies. Looks like the sales-tax plan is dead, too. What will be cut? Read on.

All cuts, no new revenue. Thoughts?



The popular thing to do

A brief news item out of Olympia this morning reports that the governor is about to get a measure by which Washington state would join the states pushing for a popular vote in presidential elections.

Only four other states have signed on so far, but the idea is that once states representing 270 electoral votes  have joined the compact, they would begin alloting all their votes in the Electoral College — enough to elect a president — to whichever candidate won the national popular vote.  Advocates of this national movement say only about a third of the states are truly competitive in presidential elections, meaning the others get minimal campaign attention.

Backers cite a 2008 poll that showed 77 percent of Washington state voters like the idea. Support was 77 percent among independents, 85 percent among Democrats and 68 percent among Republicans.

More information is available at

This issue has escaped much attention so far, but if Gov. Gregoire signs Senate Bill 5599, the number of electoral votes committed to this plan will still be only 61. If the tally gets closer to the magic 270, the clamor is going to pick up.


Fewer eyes and ears

TWN, the journal of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington, reports in its current issue that the number of print and broadcast journalists covering the Washington Legislature full time has dropped by about 70 percent.

This over a 15-year period when the state’s population has increased by 25 percent.

It’s another sign of the cost-cutting that’s going on throughout the news industry.

Who cares? Harvard’s Alex Jones apparently does.  He’s the director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, and he put it this way in the TWN account:  “When reporters leave the state Capitol, the mice play.”

The Spokesman-Review is lucky in this respect.  We’re represented by top-drawer reporters in both Olympia (Rich Roesler) and Boise (Betsy Russell).  You can follow their reporting in the pages of the paper and on their blogs, Eye on Olympia ( and Eye on Boise (

But what about this trend?  Do you share Alex Jones’ anxiety?

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