Posts tagged: Mark Schoesler
OLYMPIA – Tuesday is Election Day 2011 – or what passes for one in a state that mailed out its ballots two weeks ago and will spend more than two weeks counting the returns – but it could be a key day for Election Days 2012-21.
That morning is the next meeting of the state Redistricting Commission, which is weighing two proposals to redraw congressional and legislative lines in Washington…
To read the rest of this post, go inside the blog.
OLYMPIA – About half of the 15 members of the Spokane-area legislative delegation have volunteered for the same level of pay cuts the imposed on state workers. That’s a level slightly better than legislators statewide.
Many who have done it, like Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, say it’s a personal decision.
“As a businessman, the buck starts and stops with me,” said Parker, who owns a chain of coffee shops. “It’s the same with us as legislators.”
Parker’s seatmate in Spokane’s 6th District, Republican John Ahern, said he doesn’t plan to ask for a pay cut, but he is donating 3 percent or more to charities, ranging from his church and the Boy Scouts to organizations that oppose abortion like Teen-Aid.
“This way I know exactly where the money is going,” Ahern said. If he took a pay cut, the money would stay in the state’s general fund, and go to state programs or agencies he doesn’t support….
OLYMPIA — More than a dozen Senate Democrats want voters to reconsider their decision last November that makes it difficult for them to take state tax exemptions off the books.
On Thursday they unveiled a a new bill that would remove the requirement that both houses of the Legislature give a two-thirds majority to any plan to reduce or end a tax exemption. If it passes — a big “if” considering there are only 10 days left in the regular session and the bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing — it would be put before voters this November for their approval.
While the days are running out for the regular session “there may be an opportunity in the special session,” Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island, said.
The Legislature is still struggling with the general operating budget for 2011-13…
To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog.
Spokane-area legislative boundaries could change significantly by next year to make up for population shifts from the city’s urban core to the suburbs.
While much of the attention so far on the 2010 U.S. Census figures has centered on Washington gaining its tenth congressional district, the state’s Redistricting Commission may have even more work to do on redrawing legislative districts. The state isn’t adding to the 49 legislative districts it has had since 1933.
“Ten is easier than 49. There’s more areas to quibble over,” Dean Foster, a member of this year’s commission and the 2000 panel that redrew lines after the previous census…
OLYMPIA — Senate Democrats had to delay a vote on a plan to save businesses from paying millions more in higher unemployment insurance taxes after Republicans said the plan didn't to help the workers who have been off the job so long they are running out of benefits.
Yes. You read that right. Democrats wanted to cut taxes for businesses and Republicans blocked it because it didn't do enough for benefits for unemployed. Although that seems like a Bizarro World scenario from DC Comics, it was really a bit of political maneuvering as the Legislature tries to “beat the clock” on changes to Unemployment Insurance.
The House recently passed a bill that cancels a scheduled increase businesses are facing this year for unemployment taxes and uses some new federal money to add $15 per week per dependent for jobless workers with families. Gov. Chris Gregoire has called for the Legislature to block the rate hike but wants the federal money to be used to expand training programs for unemployed workers, to move them into jobs that have a better chance of keeping them employed in the coming years.
But some social action groups and organized labor back the boost in payments for benefits, so Democrats are understandably verklempt and still debating that section. That creates a problem because the rate hike has to be cancelled by a law that is passed and signed by Feb. 8, or it goes into effect for the entire year.
This morning Senate Democrats tried to de-couple the two parts of the bill, with an amendment that cancelled the rate hike but took out the benefits provisions, leaving them to be handled later in the session. That meant a portion of the benefits section which extended unemployment insurance was also removed.
Before they could debate the amendment, however, Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, used a parliamentary maneuver to try to block it. “Without this change in law, 70,000 workers will exhaust their unemployment benefits,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, objected, saying there's time to extend the unemployment benefits but the rate hike needs to be stopped sooner: “The clock is ticking for thousands of businesses in Washington state. Their taxes will go up…We should not be playing politics with cutting unemployment insurance rates to business.”
After Schoesler's motion to block the amendment passed 26-21, a bit more parliamentary maneuvering ensued. Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Des Moines, moved to defer further consideration. Schoesler moved to act immediately on the original bill. Eide moved to adjourn for the day. Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, D-Moses Lake, objected. Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, presiding over the Senate, said there's no debating a motion to adjourn. Schoesler called for a roll call vote on Eide's motion to adjourn. (Motions to adjourn are usually done by voice vote with some of the senators on their way out of the chamber.)
Motion to adjourn passed 25-22. They'll be back tomorrow, when presumably they will try again.
OLYMPIA – The town of Fairfield takes the American flag seriously – arguably more seriously than any place else in the country.
Thursday, the state saluted Fairfield for its 100 years of saluting the flag. With about two dozen current and former residents of the tiny southeast Spokane County town in the gallery, the Senate passed a resolution honoring the upcoming Flag Day centennial celebration in Fairfield.
The senators stood and applauded the town. The people in the gallery – many wearing ties, shirts or jackets decorated with the Stars and Strips — stood and waved their flags.
It was not true, as one senator joked, that the whole town of Fairfield was in Olympia to hear the resolution read, said Sen. Mark Schoesler, the resolution’s sponsor. “But I bet it’s the highest percentage of any town that’s ever come to the Capitol.”
To read more about Fairfield’s Flag day, click here to go inside the blog.
OLYMPIA – Despite warnings of wrath from voters in November, Senate Democrats moved a step closer to a vote on some $890 million in tax increases to fix the state’s budget hole.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved 12-10 a three-year increase in the sales tax and a series of changes to tax laws and loopholes designed to help fix a projected operating budget shortfall of $2.8 billion. They also are proposing cutting about $829 million in programs and using federal funds or transferring money out of other accounts to cover the rest.
The 21-part tax package would extend the sales tax to bottled water, cut exemptions for some equipment on wind and solar energy, raise the business and occupation tax on service businesses and raise taxes on out-of-state firms with representatives who sell directly to Washington customers.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said the full Senate could debate the tax plan as early as today.
It does not include a recent proposal to ask voters in November if they want to cut back on the sales tax in favor of an income tax on people who make more than $200,000 a year. That could come up in a separate bill before the Legislature adjourns Thursday – if it can gather enough support, Brown said.
“There’s time (to pass the income tax bill) but there has to be willingness in both houses. On that, I’m not sure,” she said.
For almost every part of the 21-point tax package, Republicans offered amendments to strip or pare back a new tax or restore an exemption, then had separate amendments to put each tax change on the November ballot for an advisory vote.
“I think it is important to let people know who is doing what to whom,” Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, said in asking for an advisory vote on changes to rules that establish when an out-of-state company is subject to Washington taxes.
At one point, the arguments became so repetitive that Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, merely said “Same speech, Madame Chair.” Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, ordered a vote, which got the same result, and the amendment failed.