Latest from The Spokesman-Review
OLYMPIA – Nearly all medical insurance plans in Washington that offer maternity care would be required to cover abortions under a bill supporters described as a minor adjustment to adjust to new federal laws but opponents denounced as an infringement on religious liberties.
HB 2330 has broad support in the House, where it has 33 co-sponsors. But it's also a target of abortion opponents who held their annual rally earlier this week on the Capitol steps.
OLYMPIA — A Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee expressed serious doubts Friday the Legislature would pass a new budget before time ran out on the special session. And the chairman of the committee did nothing to contradict him.
At the start of a hearing on various programs that would be eliminated under Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed cuts of some $2 billion, Rep. Bill Hinkle, R-Cle Elum, wondered if anyone in the room thought the Legislature “would vote the governor's budget out by the end of special session.”
“I don't think it's going to happen,” Hinkle said. “Are we really going to do that?”
Committee Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, replied that was a question “the chair is unable to answer.”
Hinkle asked for a show of hands for those who thought it would happen, but Hunter didn't allow that vote to proceed, and began taking testimony on a bill to reduce the state's payments to rural hospitals.
There was some blunt talk yesterday from members of a House committee, as officials from the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture tried to argue against deep budget cuts that they say will backfire by hurting local fundraising.
In this clip, Reps. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, and Bill Hinkle, R-Cle Elum, respond that things are bad — much worse than expected — and that saying that cuts will be hard “is falling on our deaf ears,” as Darneille put it.
This one’s of interest mainly to readers in Spokane. From tomorrow’s paper:
OLYMPIA _ A controversial proposal to merge the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture with its Western Washington counterpart appears to be dead.
One of the state’s most powerful lawmakers said Thursday that the Senate will not be approving the plan, which was proposed in December as a cost-cutting move by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
“The bill is on my desk. It’s not going to be introduced in the Senate,” said Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane.
So it’s dead on arrival, a reporter asked.
“It is,” responded Brown.
The bad news: torpedoing the merger won’t necessarily shield the museum and its operations from state budget cuts. Gov. Chris Gregoire in December proposed cutting the MAC budget by $524,000 over the next two years, which is about a 13 percent cut. And the state’s budget picture is now believed to be much bleaker.
Stopping the merger, however, would keep the MAC as a distinct organization, separate from the Tacoma-based Washington State Historical Society.
Brown’s comments came on the same day that MAC officials were in Olympia, urging skeptical House lawmakers not to allow the merger or deep budget cuts.
“Simply saying that it’s going to be hard or that it would be impossible is falling on our deaf ears,” state Rep. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, warned CEO Dennis Hession and development officer Lorna Walsh Thursday. “…We’re looking at just the most dire of budget circumstances.”
When Gregoire called for the $524,000 cut, state budget writers thought they faced a shortfall of