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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Majority Coalition Caucus

Rodney Tom calls it quits

Rodney Tom addresses a delegation from Spokane last January.

OLYMPIA — Rodney Tom, a Republican turned Democrat who joined with GOP members of the Senate to form a ruling coalition for the last two years, will not run for re-election this fall. 

Tom, currently the Senate majority leader, announced today he concluded over the weekend “the decision not to run is the right one for me and my family.”

He called his service as leader of the Majority Coalition Caucus “an opportunity of a lifetime for me personally”. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Sunday Spin: Beat the Clock on teacher bill falls short

OLYMPIA – A vote in the Senate last week brought a result about as rare as a sunny day in the state capital, and much harder to explain.

A bill to require statewide student tests as part of teacher evaluations – a requirement designed to keep the state kosher with federal No Child Left Behind rules and the money that comes with them – went down in defeat on a floor vote of 19 yes and 28 no.

Rare because hardly anything that comes to a vote in the coalition-led Senate fails, let alone so decisively. It’s almost an article of faith that if coalition leaders bring a bill to the floor, they have the votes to pass it on their own regardless of what Democrats do. But not this time. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

WA Lege Day 15: Senate majority flexes muscle

OLYMPIA — In the clearest example yet of what it means to have one more member of the Senate's ruling caucus, the Democratic chairman of a key committee was forced to share power with a newly elected Republican.

On 26-23 votes, the Majority Coalition Caucus restructured the Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee, to make Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, the co-chairwoman. She will share control of the committee with Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, who was one of the few Democrats who agreed to take a committee chairmanship last year when the mostly Republican coalition took control of the chamber and offered some top spots to minority Democrats. 

Angel, a five-year veteran of the House, beat Democrat Nathan Schlicher last November, in a special election. Her victory gave Senate Republicans 24 seats, and with the two Democrats who helped form the Majority Coalition Caucus, 26 votes to the 23 for the remaining Democrats.

Hobbs, a moderate Democrat, said the change was payback for his support of several bills conservatives in the coalition oppose, including the Reproductive Parity Act, the Dream Act, and cost-of-living adjustments for teachers. Those bills have at least 25 senators who support them, but moderate members of the coalition won't buck their caucus to allow votes on them.

“It's a clear indication their caucus has moved to the right,” Hobbs said. He supported Republican efforts to reform workers compensation last year, but said he might not do that again if there was no support for some of the social legislation. Moderates in the majority coalition told him they opposed the change but wouldn't break caucus unity to vote against it, he added. 

Senate Republican Caucus Chairwoman Linda Evans Parlette, of Wenatchee, insisted the move was merely an effort to take advantage of Angel's expertise on issues before the committee. She's a former commercial banker and real estate saleswoman and owner  of commercial and residential properties who has served as a county commissioner and a member of an Economic Development District's executive board.

“The Majority Coalition Caucus is centered just where they were last year,” Parlette said, adding the committee is equally split and either Hobbs or Angel can veto a bill. 

To the suggestion that Hobbs might not join Republicans when they try again to pass changes to workers compensation system, Parlette replied: “If he chooses to vote differently, I would say 'Did you not believe in it last year?'”

To see the official statements from the two sides, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

Deal or no deal? Senate Majority: ‘Yes’; Gov: Not yet

OLYMPIA — The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus is telling its members a deal has been struck over the state's 2013-15 budget. 

Gov. Jay Inslee's staff cautions, however, that there is no final agreement.

Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, in an e-mail to members, describes it as “truly a compromise budget”.  in which no one got everything they wanted but “in the end I think we arrived at a balanced approach that everyone can live with and that brings us closer to the education-first budget many of us envisioned. ”

It may not  be a fully cooked deal, however, Sen. Joe Fain, the coalitions floor leader, told reporters there are still some issues to be worked out, just before leaving the House wings with Rep. Reuven Carlyle, the House Finance Committee Chairman.

David Postman, the governor's spokesman, said talk of a deal is premature: No one has reported to the governor or his budget director that there is an agreement. And, in fact, the House has told us that it is still negotiating with the Senate at this hour. We believe we are close, but as of now there is more work to be done. I’ll take it as a good sign that the Senate is anxious to make an announcement, but it is premature for anyone to say at this point that a deal has been struck. 

Inslee has a noon meeting with his cabinet to discuss contingencies in case there's a partial government shutdown next week. His staff is scheduled to give an update when that meeting ends around 1 p.m.

 

Parlette's e-mail is inside the blog.

Today’s Fun Video: Senate majority puts budget stance to music

OLYMPIA — While it may seem like not much is getting done on the budget in the Legislature, negotiators have been working regularly to come to some kind of deal that will allow them to get out of town.

And those not negotiating? Well, some of them are keeping busy, too.

Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, is the floor leader, which means he has the job of moving things along for the Majority Coalition Caucus, even if that's just moving to accept yesterday's journal and adjourn until the next day. He used some of his free time to put together a music video to drum up support for the caucus's stand on a budget without new taxes. 

It could use a bit more video to go with the music. But the tune is at least catchy

Sunday Spin: On not negotiating in the media

OLYMPIA – Among the bromides passed off as great wisdom during this special session of the Legislature is that budget negotiators should not – nay, absolutely must not, and therefore do not – negotiate a budget in the media.

This has been mentioned at various times by players, from the governor to the leadership of the Senate and House to the negotiators themselves as though the admonition were cast in stone, or at least referenced through an asterisk on the tablets Moses brought down from Sinai and clear for anyone who read the next few verses in Deuteronomy.

Let’s get the office Bible down and check. Ah yes, here it is …Shalt not covet thy neighbor’s whatever. Shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. Shalt not negotiate budgets in the media.

The media, it should surprise no one, thinks this is a silly commandment… ,

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, contjnue inside the blog.

WA Spec Session: On not negotiating in the media

OLYMPIA — Neither the governor nor the leaders of the caucus controlling the Senate will negotiate the budget in the news media.

We know this, because the said so this afternoon in press conferences, which were called to talk about the special session that started today and is mostly about getting a budget agreement

At various times over the span of an hour, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Mark Schoesler and Sen. Rodney Tom all stated emphatically that they would not negotiate in the media. They said they were making progress, or that they were encouraged or that they hoped to be done in the allotted 30 days although it's possible that wouldn't happen.

Inslee said budget negotiators had agreed to “some of the fundamental assumptions” that would underlie the $33 billion plus, two-year operating budget. They hadn't started exchanging offers yet, but he was encouraging them to do so, to reach a consensus.

So what might those fundamental assumptions be? It has to do with how much savings some reforms might produce or revenue a change might produce, he said. But to get beyond that would be beyond the agreement not to negotiate in the media, he added.

Would Inslee support a budget that would close some tax loopholes but not extend temporary business taxes on professional services or continue a temporary tax on beer, as he proposed?

 “It is unwise to negotiate in the media,” he said. “The budget I have proposed is a great … but I am going to be agreeing to something different.”

Sen. Rodney Tom, the Democrat who leads the predominantly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus, said his caucus members aren't in a compromising mood, believing they already compromised to put together their no-new-taxes budget that picked up some Democratic votes when it passed the Senate. Republicans gave on accepting federal money from the expansion of Medicaid, which is supporting “Obamacare.”

Of course, that sort of ignores the fact that most of those Democrats voted for that budget as a way of moving the process along, and said they expected it to come back from the House with some tax preferences changed. Bu would any Senate Republicans support any budget that contained any tax changes?

“Right now, we've put together a budget that doesn't require revenue,” Tom said. “We're not going to negotiate the budget in the media.”

The prospects of getting a deal in 30 days after failing to reach agreement during the 105 days of the regular session? Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said he's a farmer, so he's an optimist. Senators are being told to be flexible, and either stay in Olympia or be available for teleconferences to discuss negotiaitons.

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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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