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Spin Control

Posts tagged: House rules

WA Lege Day 19: Ordinary people testify first?

OLYMPIA — Average citizens who come to Olympia to testify before a House committee will get preference when the list of witnesses is long and the amount of time is short.

The House of Representatives changed its rules Friday to give preference to people who aren't lobbyists or state officials when that chamber's committees hold hearings on bills.

Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said some residents of Eastern Washington travel as far as 400 miles one way to testify for or against proposed laws. They're so passionate they'll get up at 2 a.m. to be in Olympia for an 8 a.m. hearing, then return home that day, she said; they deserve to be heard.

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said committee chairmen and chairwomen generally do a good job of making sure people get a chance to be heard, and the Democrats had no objection to the rule change proposed by Republicans.The “Citizens First” rule passed 93-0, the only one of four rule changes proposed by the GOP to pass.

WA lege Day 19: Should every rep get at least 1 hearing?

OLYMPIA — House Democrats turned down a rule that would have guaranteed every representative at least one hearing on a bill of his or her choice during the session.

House Republicans proposed the bill among the package of changes Friday they wanted to the rules for operating the chamber. 

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said said priorities in downtown Seattle are often different than priorities in suburban Spokane, and the rule change would be a way to “give people across the state a voice”

But Democratic committee leader argued that what sounds like a good idea would turn out to be unworkable. “To be able to hear all of thses bills would be  next to impossible,” said Rep. Eileen Cody, chairwoman of the Health Care Committee who added that 64 bills had been referred to that committee already and “there's still more dropping.”

The rule failed 52-41 on the same party-line vote that killed two other proposed changes.

WA Lege Day 19: Education funding rule

Rep. Susan Fagan reads from the state Constitution during a floor debate Friday.

OLYMPIA — House Republicans want to change rules to require the state's general fund budget be split up so education expenses are decided before other state programs.

The “Fund Education First” proposal has been around before, and failed, but GOP representatives are arguing today it makes more sense as the Legislature faces a mandate from the state Supreme Court to improve funding for the state's public schools.

As part of the debate, Rep. Susan Fagan, R-Pullman, read from a copy of the state constitution that calls the education of its children the state's “paramount duty.”

Democrats, however, maintain as they have before that this is no more than a gimmick. It's not when the budget decisions are made, but how much, they say.

“It's more important to me that we fund education right,” Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, said.

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said the Republican rule is an example of form over substance. “It does nothing to actually fund education.”

Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, said it was a significant reform that would send a message the Legislature was tackling education reform in a responsible way. “It is much, much more than a slogan.”

UPDATE: Rule change fails 52-41 on a party-line vote.

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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.

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