Posts tagged: Ed Murray
Cadet honor guard carries the state flag to the Senate rostrum during joint session to honor Gardner.
OLYMPIA – With his family in the gallery and flags outside lowered to half-staff, Booth Gardner was eulogized Friday in the Senate chamber where he once served, as a champion of children, education and personal choice . . .
Definitely helped, Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, the sponsor of the amendment, told the Ways and Means Committee. The requirement has been approved five times by voters through the initiative process, she noted, including last year.
“It’s time for the people in the Legislature to match the people of the state,” Roach said, and began listing approval percentages for committee members.
Sens. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Ed Murray, both Seattle Democrats, were quick to raise their hands to indicate their districts rejected that initative.
Definitely hurt, said Nick Federici of Our Economic Future Coalition, an umbrella group for progressive and liberal organizations. If it takes a two-thirds majority to pass a tax increase, that means a one-third minority can block one, he said.. .
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OLYMPIA — Add immigration to the list of issues that could provoke a heated argument in this year's Legislature. Two mutually exclusive proposals involving undocumented students in the state's colleges will be in the Senate.
Young adults who came to the United States with their parents as young children and were raised and educated in this country would be eligible for some state college aid under a proposal announced Tuesday by Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle.
What's being dubbed the Washington State DREAM Act would open up the State Need Grant and College Bound Scholarship programs to high school students who are undocument residents. Those programs already have long waiting lines; the State Need Grant last year had 32,000 applicants who couldn't get aid because the program ran out of money. . .
OLYMPIA — The Senate's top Democrat will propose asking Washington voters to approve a capital gains tax on the wealthy to help pay for better schools and more affordable college.Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray of Seattle said this morning he will introduce a bill next week for a 5 percent excise tax on capital gains that would hit an estimated 3 percent of the state's population. It's an attempt to get what he called a “grand bargain” on education that would join reforms to the schools and provide the money to pay for it.
OLYMPIA — As state leaders weigh in with shock, sadness and support for the families of the Connecticut shooting victims, Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered state flags lowered to half-staff through Tuesday.
Gregoire called the shootings in Newtown, Conn., “incomprehensible” adding “all Washingtonians stand with me in expressing our profound sorrow and grief.”
Governor-elect Jay Inslee called it “an incredibly dark day for our nation” and a day of mourning. “But in the days to come I will be listening to all in our community with ideas for how we can prevent such violence.”
Spokane Mayor David Condon described the community as “heartbroken” but said the city and school district have a commitment to student safety. “The City of Spokane and Spokane Public Schools work closely together in many ways to help ensure that our kids are safe at school and within our community.”
Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle, the Senate Democratic leader, called it a “horrendous, senseless shooting” but the kind of violent action that is becoming too frequent. “I believe we are long overdue to have the politically difficult discussion of how we prevent them.”
OLYMPIA — Seattle Sen. Ed Murray, who spearheaded the fight for same-sex marriage and ran the Senate's budget writing committee this year, will move up to leading the Democrats in that chamber next year.
Murray was elected Senate majority leader Tuesday by the members of the Democratic caucus. There was no other candidate for the job, and he was elected by acclimation, a statement from the caucus said. He replaces Sen. Lisa Brown of Spokane, who retires at the end of this year.
Just how big of a majority Murray will lead remains in doubt. Early in the day Tuesday, Democrats had a 27-22 edge, counting a race in Vancouver's 17th District in which Democrat Tim Probst led incumbent Republican Don Benton by 16 votes. But Benton pulled ahead in Tuesday afternoon's count by 65 votes, and if that holds, the Democratic lead would be down to 26-23.
Two of the Senate's more conservative Democrats, Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom, have voted with Republicans in the past on fiscal and budget issues. They have said they'd like some bipartisan arrangement where the parties would share the power of leadership and committee positions, and if Benton wins, their two votes could be decisive if all 23 Republicans went along.
Early last year, Murray took the lead on crafting and advocating for a law that would allow. same-sex couples to marry, rather than settling for domestic partnerships. He became the prime sponsor of the bill that eventually passed both houses, was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire and was challenged by opponents who placed it on the ballot as Referendum 74. That measure passed in last week's election.
Murray is the first openly gay cucus leader in state history and the only openly gay state Senate leader currently serving in the nation, Senate Democratic staffers said.
As chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee for the last two years, Murray struggled with a budget that faced constant problems of not having enough expected revenue to meet scheduled costs. The 2011-13, biennial budget received bipartisan support in the Senate.
OLYMPIA — In a state that recently went through a legislative battle over same-sex marriage and faces a potential ballot fight over the issue, President Barack Obama's comments supporting gay marriage drew quick response.
He'll likely hear some of it in person Thursday, when he stops by for a pair of re-election campaign fundraisers.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, who offered similar reasoning late last year for her switch in support of gay marriage, praised Obama for a “courageous and heartfelt act.”
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, an openly gay legislator and sponsor of the bill that could ultimately allow Washington state to recognize same-sex marriages, thanked Obama for “his courage in taking a strong position in support of equality for all Americans.”
But the National Organization for Marriage, a national group helping to gather signatures to place Washington's same-sex marriage law on the ballot and calling for a boycott of Starbuck's for its support of the legislation, predicted Obama's comments would cost him re-election. Although Obama said he personallly supports gay marriage but believes states should decide the issue, “that is completely disingenuous,” NOM President Brian Brown said.
In an interview with ABC, Obama said he had hoped that civil unions for same-sex couples would be enough, but that hasn't proved true. He also mentioned that his daughters have friends whose parents are same-sex couples and whom they wouldn't expect to be treated differently, and that helped prompt his change in thinking.
Within hours, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, as chairwoman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, sent out an e-mail to party supporters, asking them to sign an on-line petition to “stand with President Obama in support of marriage equality.”
That closely parallels Gregoire's comments in December, when she called for the change in state law and said her opinion had also evolved from supporting civil unions to marriage for same-sex couples. At that time, she mentioned the her views had evolved from talking with her daughters, whose generation is much more accepting of same-sex unions, and that children who are being raised by two parents of the same sex deserve to have their families recognized the same way as their classmates in more traditional families.
Gregoire and Obama may have a chance to discuss the issue Thursday. The president will make a campaign stop in Seattle, with a fundraiser at the Paramont Theater in downtown; Gregoire will be there, her office said.
The comments could also cause a ripple into the governor's race, which could share the ballot with a referendum seeking to block the same-sex marriage law that is on the books but currently on hold. The leading Democratic candidate, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, has said he supports the new law. The leading Republican candidate, Attorney General Rob McKenna, has said he supports civil unions but not marriage for same-sex couples, adding his stance on the issue was essentially the same as Obama's. Until today, that description was accurate, but it is now obsolete.
Opponents of same-sex marriage are gathering signatures on Referendum 74, which would give voters the final say on whether the law takes effect. A representative of Preserve Marriage Washington, the main sponsor of the referendum, told the Associated Press Wednesday they had about 70,000 of the more than 120,000 signatures needed to place the measure on the November ballot.
OLYMPIA — A week after the Legislature's overtime session wrapped up, Democrats accused GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna of delaying the final compromise by bringing politics into the process.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, joined members of the campaign for Democratic governor hopeful Jay Inslee to accuse McKenna of using the budget stalemate “for political purposes” to push reform proposals.
A spokesman for the McKenna campaign called the accusations “nonsensical.” McKenna did talk about budget principles he would follow as governor, but “didn't try to inject himself into day-to-day negotiations,” Charles McCray III said.
Murray and the Inslee campaign were merely being “protectors of the status quo,” McCray said. “It's the status quo mentality in Olympia that is the reason it took so long.”
McKenna did support a maneuver by all 22 Republicans and three breakaway Democrats late in the regular session that pushed through an alternative budget. Murray questioned how McKenna, who has called for increased spending on education, could support a budget that cut public schools and colleges.
McKenna later said he “wasn't thrilled” with the education cuts in that alternative budget, which later was revised in the House. At a campaign press conference during the third week of the special session, he said if he'd been involved in discussions over that alternative Senate budget “I would've gone to them and said 'Let's not make the education cuts.'”
At that press conference, McKenna accused Democratic leaders in general, and House Speaker Frank Chopp in particular, of holding up negotiations by refusing to allow votes on reforms.
The partisan lines over the reforms aren't so clear-cut. The original proposal on a four-year balanced budget, a constitutional amendment, came from a Senate Democrat, one of the three who joined Republicans on the budget vote.
Murray said that's a stricter rule than any state in the union has, and “forces you to predict something in the future that is almost unpredictable.” The negotiated settlement over the budget and reforms is a statutory requirement, with some exceptions, for a four-year budget, which would be easier to amend by future Legislatures.
“It took us to bring some common sense to it,” Murray said.
On his website, McKenna details a series of ideas to reform the budget process he would push as governor. But he doesn't mention balancing the budget for four years, rather than the current two years. At his press conference earlier this month, he said he supports a four-year balanced budget but “I don't know if it requires a constitutional amendment.”
OLYMPIA — A bit of drama this afternoon before the Senate broke for lunch, with plans by Democrats to go “at ease” in the afternoon while the Ways and Means Committee holds a hearing on the budget and reform bills connected to it…and possibly come back for votes in the evening or Saturday.
After the motion to go at ease, Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, made a motion to recess until Monday. The difference: under the latter, no votes could be taken through the weekend.
Several Republicans had already headed home for the holiday weekend, and Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, is recovering from surgery. Some Republicans were concerned about orders to return to the Senate on Saturday or Sunday to vote on the budget, and with Hewitt missing, even if they all made it back they could face a 24-24 vote, with Democrats holding most of their members but the three breakaway Ds from an early budget vote casting their lot again with the Republicans.
In case of a 24-24 tie, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, a Democrat, would cast the deciding vote.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown argued passionately against recess. The bills that Republicans had been pushing for could get through the committee and be available for a vote Friday or Saturday, she said. If the Legislature has a chance of getting done by Tuesday, they'll need to move that legislation to the House as quickly as possible.
“This is not about the illness of one member. This is about getting the business of the state done,” Brown, D-Spokane, said. “If necessary, I will personally take Sen. Hewitt's vote on that bill.”
There's no problem with holding the hearing, Schoesler said. But the threat of being called back on Saturday or Sunday is a problem with some members already home with their families.
“The threat of a call of the house with a holy holiday coming is a very serious issue,” he said.
Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, said her 94-year-old mother was being baptized as a Catholic on Saturday in Yakima, and “I hope to heck we get to go tomorrow.” Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, said one of her relatives was also being baptized on Saturday. (Note: Catholics traditionally baptize new adult members during their Easter Vigil service.)
Not to be out religious-ed, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said the Democrats two Jewish members had agreed to stay as late as necessary Friday night, which is the beginning of Passover, “willing to forego their very holy day in order to get the business of the state done.”
In the end, Owen ruled that the motion to go in recess came first, took precedence, and called for a vote on that. It passed. Unknown yet whether there will be votes late into the evening Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Gov. Chris Gregoire signs the same-sex marriage bill.
OLYMPIA — Within hours of Gov. Chris Gregoire signing a historic bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in Washington, opponents filed a referendum that would give voters a chance to endorse or reject it in November.
A Republican presidential candidate visiting the Capitol said the nation should move forward with a constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriage.
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Sen. Ed Murray, left, and his partner Michael Shiosaki discuss the same-sex marriage bill.
OLYMPIA — The state Senate will be debating the same-sex marriage bill in front of a full gallery and possibly late into the evening.
But it has the 25 votes needed to pass SB 6239, its prime sponsor, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said.
The galleries have been filling since late afternoon, and at least a half dozen amendments will be considered before the final vote. One of those amendments will be to put the measure to a vote, but Murray said he was confident that amendment will fail.
The bill could pass the House and be on Gov. Gregoire's desk by the middle of next week, he said.
Despite the fact that supporters can defeat any attempt at a referendum clause, Murray said he had “no doubt” opponents will gather the signatures to suspend the law until it goes to the voters in November.
Appearing before the debate at a press conference with his partner Michael Shiosaki, Murray said Wednesday is “a historic day for gay and lesbian couples in Washington state.”
When they met some 21 years ago, Shiosaki said they “never would've imagined this day would be here.
Although Washington has a domestic partnership law that gives same-sex couples many of the legal rights as a married couple, marriage is special, he added.
“This is the way society says you're a family,” Murray said.
OLYMPIA – The state’s most likely revenue outlook for the next two years dropped slightly Wednesday as the state’s chief economist revised his projections down about $183 million because of what he calls a “soft patch” in the recovery.
The state should collect $31.603 billion in its general fund to spend on a wide array of programs, services and salaries, Arun Raha said, or about sixth-tenths of 1 percent less than the revenue projected in March…
Rep. Ross Hunter tells reporters Monday there's a deal on the operating budget, but it won't be released until Tuesday.
OLYMPIA — Budget negotiators have reached deal on the 2011-13 operating budget, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle confirmed late this morning.
“The good news is we have a budget. The bad news is it's a painful budget with some deep cuts,” Murray said.
Don't ask what's in it yet. The contents will be released to legislators Tuesdsay morning, tentatively at 9 a.m., and to the public about an hour later. In the meantime, it has to go to the printer.
“I'm not going to discuss details,” Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, repeated a half-dozen times as reporters questioned him in the House wings.
Negotiators reached an agreement and shook hands about 11 p.m. Sunday. Staff is going over the details to make sure what negotiators agreed to is what they thought they agreed to. “There will not be any big issues that block us from solving it,” Hunter said.
Negotiators had been meeting every evening until 10 or 11 p.m., he said. “There were a couple of moments when theings were a little testy,” he said.
Asked whether the budget will get strong support from both parties in both houses, Hunter said: “It will get at least 76 votes.” Which is to say, at least 50 votes in the House, 25 in the Senate and the governor's signature.
OLYMPIA — In what may be a nod to Valentine's Day, two legislators announced they are introducing bills to legalize gay marriage in Washington state.
State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, introduced SB 5793 in the Senate. Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancover, said he'll drop the companion legislation in the House on Tuesday. It would overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed over then-Gov. Gary Locke's veto in 1998.
“We've made tremendous progress since 1998,” Murray said. “Gay and lesbian families in Washington now enjoy the same state spousal rights that their married straight friends enjoy – except for the name ‘marriage’. The recognition that their loving, lifelong commitment is no different from the loving, lifelong commitment of straight couples is the final step to achieving full equality. I believe the Legislature and the public are both ready to take that final step.”
The bill covers civil marriage laws; religious institutions would be free to determine whether they would perform services for same-sex couples.
It also keeps the option of domestic partnerships, which are currently in the law.
The bills may be more symbolic than realistic. This late in the session, they have just one week to get out of committee or be killed by the first cut-off date, Feb. 21.
OLYMPIA — Reaction to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget was swift Wednesday as some of her normal alliles is social service groups and progressive circles denounced it while Republicans gave it qualified favorable reviews.
Fellow Democrats tried to praise her for the effort of compiling a budget that cut $4.6 billion over two years with committing to any of it.
State workers represented by Service Employees International Union, who care for seniors and the developmentally disabled, gathered outside the governor’s office to protest the cuts to key social service programs. They clustered around the exits to the office with empty wheel chairs in which they placed signs predicting the kinds of injuries and problems patients could suffer because of the cuts.
Karen Washington, who works for Chesterfield Services home care in Spokane, said workers who are already struggling to make ends meet, will have their wages and benefits cut, too. In the end, many patients who are able to remain in their homes or with family because of state services will wind up in more expensive settings like nursing homes and hospitals because of the cuts, she said.
Asking the sick and disabled to shoulder so much of the state’s budget problems “is not only not fair, it’s immoral,” Washington said.
Read more reaction inside the blog.