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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Timm Ormsby

3rd District gathering Monday

The Third Legislative District's delegation will hold a gathering something between a town hall and a coffee klatch Monday afternoon.

Dubbed a “mobile office” meeting, Sen. Andy Billig and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli will be at Indaba Coffee, 1425 W. Broadway to give constituents a chance to comment or ask questions about legislation that affects the region. The three Democrats will be there from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Local legislators reaching out by phone

OLYMPIA — While Spokane-area legislators are spending most of their time for the next two months in Olympia,some are  are trying to keep in touch with constituents by shifting the standard “town hall meeting” from a place to a phone number.

Republican Reps. Kevin Parker and Jeff Holy from Spokane's 6th Legislative District, which has parts of south and northwest Spokane city and much of the West Plains, are having a one-hour conference at 6:30 p.m. tonight. conference. Constituents can call 1-800-759-5308 to listen and press the star key to ask a question.

The 7th Legislative District delegation, Sen. Brian Dansel and Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short, will have a joint teleconference on Feb. 3. Constituents can call 1-877-229-8493 and enter  112381 when prompted.

Legislators at NE Community Center Wednesday

Legislators from Spokane's 3rd District will hold a “mobile office” session Wednesday afternoon at the Northeast Community Center.

Sen. Andy Billig, along with Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli, will be at the center, 4001 N. Cook St., from 3:30 to 5 p.m. to talk to constituents about concerns as the 2014 session approaches.

Just a guess, but some things about the special session that ended last week might come  up, too.

Spec Sess Day 18: House passes estate tax ‘fix’

OLYMPIA — Over objections that the Legislature was unconstitutionally reaching into the past to collect taxes, the House passed a change to the estate tax law that attempts to erase a loss in court.

House Bill 2064 passed on a 51-40 vote after Democrats described it as a technical fix to close a loophole the Supreme Court opened in tax law, and necessary to pay for schools. The estate tax is deposited in the school trust fund.

Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, said the Legislature has reached a consensus that it must do a better job of paying for education, and closing the loophole in the estate tax law is one component of that.

“The clock is ticking and we have some responsibilities to fill.” he said. The tax affects the state's wealthiest families — it applies only to estates with assets over $2 million — so the choice is between giving them a refund from estate taxes they've paid or keeping the money in the school trust fund, he added.

Republicans argued that rewriting the law to fix the problem the Supreme Court found, and applying it retroactively, was unconstitutional.  The state was collecting taxes it shouldn't have, and now needs to give them back, Rep. Terry Nealey of Walla Walla said.  If the state loses another court battle, it will have to pay the back taxes, plus interest and attorneys fees.

The issue involves a type of trust that some married couples use known as a qualified terminal interest property or QTIP, which keeps the assets from being taxed when the first spouse dies, deferring the estate tax until the second spouse dies. The Legislature passed the current estate tax law in 2005, and voters approved it through a referendum. But last year the state Supreme Court said the Department of Revenue was incorrectly collecting taxes from trusts in which the first spouse died before the law passed and the second spouse died after it took effect.

The state Department of Revenue will begin preparing refund checks next Monday for 70 estates that are effected by the court ruling, and expects to mail those checks, totalling more than $40 million, the following week, Mike Gowrylow, a department spokesman, said. Without the legislative changes, the state's Education Trust Fund would lose about $140 million over the 2013-15 biennium, between the refunds and taxes that it wouldn't be able to collect, the Office of Financial Management estimates.

Ormsby said it's a simple choice between writing refund checks to some of the state's wealthiest families or supporting schools. Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said the bill was just a “technical fix” of the law and the Legislature always intended the estate tax to be applied in this  manner.

But Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, said making the law retroactive runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution, and suggests “all sins are forgiven if it's done in the  name of education.”

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, said the bill won't just hit the wealthy, but estates that are high in property assets but with little liquid capital: “What are we going to do retroactively next?” he asked.

Legislative town hall meetings in Spokane

Spokane-area residents will have chances to ask their legislators what’s going on in Olympia this weekend at several town hall meetings scheduled for Saturday.

Sen. Andy Billig, Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli, all Democrats from central Spokane’s 3rd District, have a 10 a.m. meeting at Shadle Park High School Auditorium, 4327 N. Ash, and a 2 p.m. meeting at Emmanuel Family Life Center, 631 S. Richard Allen Ct.

Sen. Mike Baumgartner, Reps. Kevin Parker and Jeff Holy, Republicans from northwest and south Spokane’s 6th District, have a 10 a.m. meeting at Lincoln Heights Elementary School, 3322 E. 22nd Ave.  

Not sure what legislative district you're in? For a detailed map of Spokane-area legislative districts, click here.

3rd Lege District “town hall” call on Wednesday

Residents of Spokane's 3rd Legislative District might be getting a call around 6 p.m. Wednesday inviting them to participate in a tele-town hall.

A what? you might say.

It's like a town hall meeting, only on the telephone.

Sen. Lisa Brown and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Andy Billig will all be on the other end. Or more accurately, another ends. In a tele-town hall, there are lots of ends because hundreds of people can be on the line.

Participants can ask their questions, and listen to the questions of others and the answers from the three Democratic legislators. If you want to participate but don't get a call, you can dial toll-free at 1-877-229-8493. You'll have to enter an ID code when requested, of 18646.

A spokeswoman said the three legislators decided to do a town hall meeting by phone because scheduling a session in Spokane early the session can be difficult. They may do one in person later.

For 6th District residents, however, can ask their state senator questions the old fashioned, face-to-face way on Saturday. Sen. Mike Baumgartner is holding two standard town hall meetings.

The first will be at 8 a.m. at the Multipurpose Room, PUB 101, on EWU Cheney campus. (It's hosted by the Associated Students of Eastern Washington University, who apparently don't plan to party late into the night Friday to be up bright and early for the town hall meeting…or maybe they just won't go to bed until after the meeting is over.)

Another meeitng is at 10:30 a.m. at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Browne's Addition, 2316 West 1st Ave.

Lawsuit challenges supermajority for taxes

OLYMPIA – A coalition of House Democrats and education advocates are asking the courts to void the supermajority required for tax increases, arguing that it’s an unconstitutional limit on legislative authority.
State Republicans and the sponsor of initiatives that have repeatedly resulted in voters imposing that two-thirds majority quickly denounced the lawsuit as ignoring the will of the voters.
Tim Eyman, who had another such initiative certified Monday for this November’s ballot, said the suit could boost that measure. It could also provide campaign fodder for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, who as state attorney general will have the task of defending the supermajority requirement in the courts.
“This is going to bode well for us,” Eyman said of Initiative 1125. “It’s an extraordinary gift they’ve given to the McKenna campaign.”

To read the rest of this story, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.
  

Workers comp passes Senate

OLYMPIA – After tying the Legislature in knots for much of the last three months, changes to the state’s century-old workers compensation sped through both houses Monday with comfortable margins. It passed the House 69-26, and the Senate 35-12.
The changes, which also have the support of Gov. Chris Gregoire and should soon become law, are projected to save the disability system some $1.1 billion over the next four years and stave off double digit rate increases for businesses.
To read the rest of Tuesday's print edition story, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Got something to say to your legislator? Here’s your chance

There's a break in the legislative action this weekend, so several Spokane-area legislators will be back in their home districts to hold town hall meetings.

The break is a result of the Legislature passing a major deadline for voting bills out of one chamber, and not yet reaching a key point in crafting the next biennium's budget, the state economic forecast which comes out March 17. Because of that, neither house is in session this weekend, so it's a good time for legislators to head home for a few days, and Saturday seems like a good day for town hall meetings.

Here's a list of what's scheduled for Saturday.

3rd Legislative District
Sen. Lisa Brown, Reps. Timm Ormsby and Andy Billig.
  10 a.m., Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook St.
  2 p.m., Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, 2316 W. 1st Ave.

6th Legislative District
Sen. Mike Baumgartner, Reps. Kevin Parker and John Ahern
  10:30 a.m. Northwood Middle School gymnasium, 13120 N. Pittsburg St.
Parker
  2 p.m., Education themed town hall at Northwood Middle School library, 13120 N. Pittsburg St.
Baumgartner
  5 p.m. town hall at the MAC, 2316 W. 1st Ave.

9th Legislative District
Rep. Susan Fagan

  10:30 a.m., WHMC Public Education Building, 1200 W. Fairview St., Colfax
  2 p.m., Cafe Moro, 100 E. Main St., Pullman

Bomb suspect arrest surpised Tucker

OLYMPIA — News that the FBI was making an arrest in the MLK Day bomb plot came as a surprise here yesterday — not just to legislators who have been ensconced in the capital for two months but to Spokane County's top law official.

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker was in Olympia for “Law and Justice Day”, a day set aside for the state's prosecuting attorneys to lobby their legislators. He was enroute from one Spokane-area senator's office to another's Wednesday morning about the time FBI agents (and some media) were closing in on Kevin Harpham's home near Addy.

Bumping into Tucker on the sidewalk, I decided to see if I could pick up a tidbit of news to feed back to Spokane. So, I asked,  the FBI is picking up someone in MLK parade bomb attempt?

They are? he replied, surprised. When told that was the word coming out of Spokane, he seemed pleased, but still surprised, and asked if I had any  more details. The FBI, he said, always keeps things close to the vest.

A short time later, I happened upon Rep. Timm Ormsby, a Spokane Democrat who's district includes the downtown route of the parade, and mentioned the feds were making an arrest, again hoping for some little nugget of news. His brother, Mike Ormsby, is, after all, the U.S. attorney in Spokane.

Rep. Ormsby was surprised, too, and asked who and where. US Atty. Ormsby doesn't talk about the cases, he said.

WA Lege Day 59: Staffers laud Ormsby

OLYMPIA — The end of the session — or what was scheduled to be the end — is a time when various “legislator of the year” awards are announced. But one that seems to have some currency in the halls of the Capitol went to Rep. Timm Ormsby.

Ormsby of Spokane was named to that honor by the House Democratic staff, making him the first Spokane area legislator to get the award.

It’s such a big deal that his name goes on a placque in the Democratic caucus room. But it is a big deal among staff, one source said.

The deal is that only the Democratic legislative aides get a vote. And they can’t vote for their own boss (otherwise we’d be looking at something like a 61-way tie.)

Staffers aren’t even supposed to lobby for their own boss, the source said. Ormsby won this year because he’s recognized as someone who generally cares about  his staff, doesn’t waste people’s time, and takes on the hard fights.

The source spoke on condition of not being identified. But no, it’s not one of Ormsby’s staff. (Stop being so cynical.)

WA Lege Day 32: Tie sales tax to unemployment rate?

OLYMPIA – A proposal to raise the state sales tax by 1 cent on the dollar, and tie it to high levels of unemployment, was introduced Thursday in the state House of Representatives.

Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane and one of the House Bill 3183’s 15 co-sponsors, calls it “an interesting concept”, even while conceding the sales tax is “a terrible revenue source.”

“I’m not crazy about the sales tax. But it’s one of the very few options available to the state,” he said.

The bill would raise the state’s share of the sales tax by 1 percent starting June 30, with 80 percent going to the state’s general fund, and most of the rest being set aside for roads and bridges. It would keep that extra penny per dollar in place until the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent for four straight months. The other half-cent would come off after the unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent.

Minutes after the bill was introduced, the Washington Policy Center, a conservative organization, was warning the sales tax could be in place for a long time. The state’s current unemployment rate is 9.5 percent and a tax increase of this magnitude could cost the state thousands more jobs, said Jason Mercier of the policy center.

Ormsby said the bill was introduced in the hope of getting a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee and generating discussion: “I’ll be interested to see what kind of reaction is out there.”

There is no similar proposal in the Senate. Gov. Chris Gregoire has said she’d consider any options the Legislature sent her, but has not called for a sales tax increase.

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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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