Spin Control

Heated debate over RPA in the Senate. More ahead?

OLYMPIA -- Senate Democrats tried a new way to bring the Reproductive Parity Act to the floor through a parliamentary procedure.

After failing Tuesday in an attempt with one manuever -- known as the 9th Order -- on a 23-25 vote, they moved this morning to bring up a broad insurance bill this afternoon at 4:59 p.m., essentially making it the last bill before the clock ran out for one of the Legislature's key deadlines to pass bills. They would then amend the parity act onto the broader bill.

The motion from Sen. Karen Keiser brought loud objections from the Majority Coalition, with Republican Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville shouting "Point of order" so many times that Lt. Gov. Brad Owen finally said "I heard you the first time."

Keiser said the Majority Coalition said Tuesday they objected to the method of bringing up the RPA, which would require abortion to be offered by most insurance companies that cover maternity services. This was a different method, based on the fact that the insurance bill has a title so broad the parity act would fit under its umbrella.

Schoesler said Keiser was making a reference to other members and impugning them, which isn't allowed under Senate rules. Owen said he didn't hear any impugning of motives

The goal of the maneuvering is to create a situation in which two members of the Majority Coalition, Rodney Tom and Steve Litzhow, who support abortion rights will break with the caucus that opposes abortion.

"We were told there's always a way to bring a bill to the floor. We have found a way," Keiser said.

This wasn't it. The motion failed 23-25, with Tom and Litzhow voting against placing the omnibus insurance bill on the calendar as the last legislation to be debated before the deadline passes.

But the maneuver does signal a possible path for Democrats to get the RPA through the Senate. If the omnibus insurance bill comes up anytime before 5 p.m., they can move to add the parity act with an amendment, forcing an up or down vote on the substance of the bill that isn't tied to a fight over procedure.




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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