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Posts tagged: Capitol

This protest required a lot of air

Protesters work to prop up an elephant they are inflating on the Capitol Rotunda floor as part of a call for a state income tax.

OLYMPIA — As legislative leaders sweated the small stuff on the operating budget and other members awaited word of a deal, protesters called for something that isn't really on anyone's radar screen right now.

A progressive income tax for the state.

Members of the Backbone Campaign draped a banner for a state income tax over the fourth floor railing and chanted while others worked to inflate a large elephant on the rotunda floor. The sign on the side of the elephant, readable once it got nearly to full inflate: “Progressive Income Tax.”

While a proposal for a state income tax gets introduced by someone almost every year, there was  no serious discussion of such a tax this year as legislators struggled with the budget. An initiative for an income tax on the wealthy was defeated in 2010, and several times before that, reaching back to the 1930s.

“Somebody's got to have the guts to talk abour real reform,” Bill Moyer, of Vashion Island, co-founder and director of the Backbone Campaign, said. Legislators should “stretch the boundaries of what the perceive is politically possible.” 

Showing up for the protest

The Rainier bottles “graze” in front of the Capitol during a protest against the extension of the state's temporary beer surcharge.

OLYMPIA — There's never a giant opener around when I need one.

A pair of the Rainier bottles made famous in the beer's off-beat commercials, with their “wrangler” in tow, showed up at the Capitol for the protest against continuing the temporary beer surtax and extending it to microbreweries.

A couple of things you may not know about the iconic beer-creatures. In their costumes, they are blind as bats, and were not allowed to go up and down the Capitol steps in costume. The costumes don't handle the rain well — making one wonder what would happen to them in a giant ice chest.

WA Lege Day 8: Making a chilling protest statement

Taylor Malone of Spokane removed her shirt during a protest to symbolize that with cuts to programs, some people have to make the choice between feeding their familes and buying them clothes

OLYMPIA — Some 300 people, including about 75 from Spokane, marched through downtown to the steps of the Capitol Monday, demanding the Legislature fullfill Martin Luther King's dream by doing more to help the poor.

Some made statements with chants like “The people united will never be defeated.”

Others made statements with cards that held a legislator's name, and a letter grade for how the Washington Community Action Network thinks they voted in the last session issues of race and economic justice.

Taylor Malone of Spokane made a statement by taking off her shirt and standing through the half-hour rally on the steps in a bra and jeans. In recent years, she said, the Legislature has cut social service programs, forcing some people to choose between buying adequate food or adequate clothing for their families.

Instead of more cuts, the Legislature should close some tax breaks for businesses, she said.

Malone said she  has been active in Spokane protests to support gay rights and to  help victims of sexual assault, and against the Westboro Baptist Church. But it was her first protest in Olympia, were temperatures were in the mid-30s under fog-shrouded skies. The obvious question was whether she was cold.

“Truthfully? I am,” she admitted. After the rally, she put on shirt and coat before joining a group visiting 3rd District legislators.

Also coming from Spokane was Wendla Fryar, an Eastern Washington University graduate student working on her masters in social work, who hoped to talk to legislators from Spokane's 6th District about preserving or restoring social programs.

Fryar suffers from lupus, and needs to take 13 different prescription drugs every day to manage her symptom, but was dropped from the Medicaid program that helped cover her drug costs. She receives a grant to help with college costs and food stamps, and is worried about cuts to those programs, too.

“I can't survive without those programs,” she said.

A way, with a manger, to mark the season

Creche erected on the Capitol Campus.

OLYMPIA — About a half block to the south of the atheists's sign (see below), a Nativity Scene occupies a section of the Capitol Campus to the east of the Insurance Building and the Legislative Building.

In past years, the fight over display space has reached epic proportions, with FOX News weighing in on the propriety of placing a sign questioning religion inside the Capitol. A few years ago, the state banned all holiday displays inside the Capitol with the exception of the “holiday tree”, which the Association of Washington Business has sponsored for decades.

To put up a display outside, sponsors must receive a permit from the state Department of Enterprise Services, which oversees the Capitol grounds and buildings.

The Nativity Scene, which is making its second appearance on the Capitol grounds, is sponsored by attorney Hunter Abell, a former Easterm Washington resident who now lives in Bothell.

Happy Solstice from the Capitol grounds

OLYMPIA — This year's version of the “war over Christmas” is pretty tame.

A Nativity Scene and a sign from an atheist organization, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, are coexisting nicely on the lawn in the park to the east of the Capitol and Insurance buildings.

A Menorrah for Hannukah is up in Sylvester Park, about four blocks north, not far from a well decorated Christmas tree.

State ‘unoccupies’ park

OLYMPIA — Protesters who set up an “Occupy Olympia” encampment in a park below the Capitol Campus were evicted overnight. But a handful broke into an abandonned building a few blocks away in a brief effort to try establishing “squatters rights.”

Police surrounded the building, but didn't immediately move to evict protesters, who set up a tent in the parking lot, hung signs down the side of the old Thurston County Health Building and continued to move in and out through a door in the roof.

Eventually, all protesters left the building without incident.

Leon Janssen, a commercial painter and part-time student who had spent the last two months at the encampment, said the protest would continue, just not in the park. Some protesters who have nowhere else to go may move to unoccupied or foreclosed buildings, he said.

Demonstrators will hold general assembly meetings every Sunday afternoon in the Capitol Rotunda, Janssen said.

The state Department of Enterprise Services erected temporary fences around the encampment and state workers started gathering up tents and other items left behind when protesters were evicted.

WA Lege Day 87: Protesters don’t like either budget

OLYMPIA – As several hundred protesters chanted about corporate greed and demanded tax increases, House budget writers gathered to decide which of two plans to cut billions from state programs they would endorse.

The state’s budgeting process, which is facing serious time constraints as the Legislature slogged through Day 87 of its 105-day session, featured competing spending plans in the House. Republicans unveiled their alternative budget Wednesday afternoon, proposing more cuts from health insurance and disability programs but spends more on public schools.

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Ho, ho, ho. Time for some Xmas controversy

OLYMPIA – Thanksgiving is still nearly a week away, but the annual Christmas controversy over religious displays in the Capitol has begun.
A tree will go up in the Rotunda at the end of the month, as it has for at least two decades. But a crèche won’t.
Earlier this month the Catholic League sent crèches to governors’ offices in all states asking that the Nativity scenes be displayed somewhere inside each capitol building.
But Washington bans displays by private groups inside its Capitol – an outgrowth of a controversy that erupted two years ago when atheists put up a sign to counter a Nativity scene in the Rotunda. 
 

 

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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