Latest from The Spokesman-Review
OLYMPIA – State agencies would spend a total of $95 million on construction projects in Spokane County ranging from improvements at Mount Spokane to updates at Eastern Washington University, under a plan approved this week by the House of Representatives.
The proposed Capital Budget, which would spend a total of $3.5 billion around the state on projects other transportation, is often known as the state’s bricks and mortar budget that covers projects from many state agencies. It’s not as controversial as the operating budget, and passed the House on a 96-2 vote Thursday.
Mount Spokane State Park would get $6 million for Nordic ski area improvements and to develop a horse camp, $2.5 million to relocate a maintenance facility and another $2.4 million for improvements on roads that are facing failure.
Included in the spending plan is nearly $24 million for a list of infrastructure renewal, facility preservation and building maintenance projects at Eastern Washington University, and $3.3 million for improvements at Eastern State Hospital. The state Veterans Cemetery would get about $2.7 million for an upgrade and the Marshall Landfill would get $5 million from the Department of Ecology cleanup fund.
A late addition to the list of Spokane County projects was $1.5 million for the Fairchild Air Force Base Protection and Community Empowerment Project, which would be used to buy two mobile home parks within a protected area near the base, so the land could be rezoned for light industrial use. Local government and business leaders consider the mobile home parks property an encroachment that could put the base at a disadvantage in a future round of base closures.
Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, said the money would help protect the mission of the base and position it for the future, and made adding the money for the empowerment zone one of his top priorities.
In 2013, Spokane County commissioners had a more extensive plan and asked voters to approve a property tax increase to raise $18 million to buy seven mobile home parks in and around the zone and relocate the residents. More than half the voters said yes, but it didn’t get the super-majority needed for a property tax increase.
The Senate hasn't voted on a Capital Budget yet. To see the full proposal, as well as lists or maps of the projects for any county or legislative district, click here.
OLYMPIA – Tucked inside the 291-page budget Gov. Jay Inslee signed last week is a paragraph that tells state agencies to ask for money for new-fangled tech gear a better way.
It’s what’s known as a proviso, sort of a marching order from the Legislature, somewhat akin to an earmark from Congress. . .
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.
Robocalls may be annoying, particularly during campaign season, but for Rep. Kevin Parker, one apparently prompted a death threat.
The Spokane Republican contacted the Washington State Patrol this week after someone left a message on his office voice mail with graphic threats to him and his family. The patrol handles security for legislators, and they brought in Spokane police detectives, who tracked down the caller, interviewed then arrested him.
Here's the kicker: This wasn't a campaign robocall. According to the police affidavit it was the far more innocuous type, a simple invitation to a town hall meeting. From January. The Airway Heights man apparently had kept it on his machine and over time he became angrier and angrier until he decided to call back.
For more information, check out Reporter Kip Hill's story by clicking here.
Parker said the incident raises questions about untreated mental health problems in the community.
"Mental illness is far more prevalent than people think," he said today. As many as one person in four may deal with someone who has a mental health problem in their family. "I'm hoping this individual gets help while he's in custody."
OLYMPIA — The Seahawks' flying mascot Taima made a guest appearance in the Legislature this morning, posing for pictures and being present in the House when a resolution of his honor was adopted.
The resolution, by Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, commended the augur hawk as a good luck charm and a uniting element of Eastern and Western Washington. The bird is owned and trained by David and Robin Knutson of Spokane County's West Plains, who bring Taima to the Seattle stadium for every home game so he can be the first Hawk out of the tunnel at game time.
"He's a symbol of excellence and possibilities," Parker said.
Taima didn't do his signature flight above the House chamber, or during his visit later to the Senate. David Knutson said he's worked bigger, noisier crowds, so that wouldn't have been a problem. But Taima is molting and not in training, so he isn't up to his game-day standards.
The Museum of Arts and Culture will be a busy place this weekend for Spokane residents who want to ask their legislators what’s happening in Olympia.
As the 2014 session nears the two-thirds mark, legislators from the 3rd and 6th Districts have town hall meetings Saturday at the MAC, 2316 W. First Ave.
Democratic Sen. Andy Billig and Rep. Marcus Riccelli will have a meeting there from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Their district includes downtown, Browne’s Addition, the lower South Hill and neighborhoods as far north as Hillyard.
Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner, Reps. Kevin Parker and Jeff Holy will be in the same location from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Their district includes parts of northwest and south Spokane, the West Plains, Cheney and Airway Heights
OLYMPIA — Washington schools would be required to protect students against emotional bullying, keep more data on homeless students and test out whether extra days would help some students retain more from one year to the next under bills that advanced Friday. . .
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.
A legislator, a member of a youth volunteer organization and a major league pitcher will host a town hall meeting on human trafficking Wednesday evening in North Spokane.
Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, said the meeting is designed to discuss what the state is doing to address human trafficking: "It is difficult to conceive that people are still being sold into slavery in our day and age, and in our country. However, human trafficking is very real and, unfortunately, prolific in our country."
Joining Parker will be Jeremy Affeldt, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, and Darrin Duty of Generation Alive, a volunteer organization for young people that Affeldt and his wife helped start.
The meeting is starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Service Station, 9315 N. Nevada.
A member of U.S. House of Representatives leadership grabbed some java to go at a Spokane-area Dutch Bros. Coffee this morning. And it wasn't who you might think.
Franchise owner and state Republican lawmaker Kevin Parker hosted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at one of his drive-thru espresso stands this morning, tweeting out "Look who stopped by our coffee stand this morning." Accompanying the pic was a shot of both men grinning in front of a drive-thru window, ties not included.
Parker said Cantor was in town to attend an area fundraiser for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Thursday night. While there, Parker talked to Cantor about the business he started, and the Virginia Republican expressed some interest in seeing one of the stands before he left from the airport Friday morning.
Cantor, who graduated from Columbia University in New York with a Master of Science degree in Real Estate Development in 1989, worked at his family's real estate firm for a decade in the '90s while beginning his political career in the Virginia State House of Delegates. Parker was surprised and impressed by Cantor's private sector acumen.
"He's a pretty big business guy," Parker said Friday afternoon.
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.
Not sure what legislative district you're in? For a detailed map of Spokane-area legislative districts, click here.
Today's Olympia-based story on efforts to block credit card surcharges in Washington's Legislature elicited some interesting online comments.
The story demonstrates the unexpected position by a conservative legislator (Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane) who argues a credit card surcharge is best left to federal legislation. States rightrs? Parker isn't of the opinion that the state should step in.
Here is part of that story:
By Tom Sowa
Washington may join 10 other states that now prohibit merchants from adding credit card surcharges to purchases.
The state House of Representatives expects to vote on HB 1870 today and send it to the state Senate.
But even the bill’s House sponsors say they’re uncertain the state Senate will vote on a bill that some state business groups consider unnecessary.
If made into law, the bill prevents Washington merchants from adding a surcharge to any credit or debit card transaction. The bill does not stop merchants from offering discounts for cash-only purchases.
One sponsor, Rep. Cyrus Habib, a Seattle-area Democrat, introduced the bill in response to a recent federal court ruling that allows merchants to add a surcharge of up to 4 percent of a purchase cost.
That surcharge option took effect on Feb. 1, but national consumer and business groups have said few merchants have opted to use it.
Jan Teague, president and CEO of the Washington Retail Association, said her group opposes the bill because there’s no need to make it a state law.
“None of our retailers in Washington impose a surcharge. In fact, those who use MasterCard and Visa are contractually prevented from doing so already,” Teague said.
“So, it makes no sense to try to turn this into law,” she added. “I know of no retailers here who are doing that.”
The new surcharge option took effect based on a preliminary court ruling in a New York lawsuit filed by retailers against the nation’s largest credit card companies.
The ruling said merchants could add surcharges, but they needed to post them at the point of sale and could not charge more than the actual “swipe fee” – the amount a retailer pays the bank for each transaction.
The National Retail Federation says few retailers are adding the charges; it also notes that the court ruling is preliminary and could be reversed when a judge makes a final ruling later this year.
The bill was approved on an 8-7 vote last week in the Business and Financial Services Committee of the state House. Habib and committee chairman Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, were among the sponsors.
Inslee delivers his speech to a joint session of the Legislature.
If you can't get enough of Inauguration Day rhetoric, wonder what else was in the Gov. Jay Inslee's speech or the GOP response, we can help.
Click here to go inside the blog to read the transcript of Inslee's speech.
Click here to read the transcript of the GOP response given by Rep. Kevin Parker of Spokane.
Click here for a link to the TVW broadcast of the six GOP leaders comments and press conference after the speeches.
OLYMPIA — Spokane Rep. Kevin Parker will give the Republican response to Jay Inslee's inaugural address Wednesday.
Inslee will give his speech after he and other statewide elected officials take the oath of office Wednesday morning in the Capitol Rotunda. The ceremony starts at 10:30 a.m., and the inaugural speech is set for about 11:30 a.m.
Parker will give the GOP response after Inslee's speech, and Senate and House Republican leaders will hold a press conference right after that in the House wings to talk about their priorities for the session.
There's Kevin Parker the state legislator. There's Keven Parker the business owner.
That second guy is the featured speaker at Thursday's Numerica and Whitworth Small Business Support Center (SBSC) discussion, running 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
It's at the Numerica Credit Union at 405 E. Farwell Road.
Parker is owner of a number of Spokane area Dutch Bros. coffee shops. He's going to discuss business growth and the use of social media to propel a small business.
Thursday's event is sponsored by Numerica Credit Union, Petit Chat Village Bakery and www.cureforcat.com. and Whitworth University.
State Rep. Kevin Parker has plenty of time on his hands, politically speaking.
The Republican from Spokane's 6th District doesn't have an opponent in this year's election. So over the weekend, he signed on as honorary chairman of Cathy McMorris Rodgers' congressional re-election campaign.
According to the press release, she is pleased and he is honored. She wants him to help her campaign "move forward". He wants to make sure the campaign stays in touch with voters while she's back in that other Washington.
The press release also contains some bio information on Parker, such as his co-ownership of coffee shops, serving as a leadership instructor at Fairchild Air Force Base and adjunct business prof at Whitworth University.
He was also "honorary commander for Fairchild" last year, it notes. We're guessing as honorary commander of the base, Parker didn't get to order launches of any of the planes. Perhaps this honorary gig will be more action-packed.
So much for magical thinking.
The Occupy Spokane activist who challenged state Rep. Kevin Parker's reelection bid already has dropped out of the race.
Wayne Kyle Spitzer, a Democrat, confirmed today that he decided against running for Parker's 6th District House seat. He filed paperwork officially dropping out on Monday.
Spitzer said recently that Parker would be tough to beat, but that with some "magical thinking" it could be done.
His withdrawal means that for the second election cycle in a row, Parker will not face a challenge to reelection.
Wayne Kyle Spitzer isn’t without ‘magical thinking.’
Just check out his 1990s film work on YouTube.
Spitzer, who has become a prominent voice in Occupy Spokane, recently announced on Facebook that he will challenge state House Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, in the August primary as a Democrat.
Parker has raised more than $140,000 for his reelection bid and has obtained a reputation as nearly unbeatable in only two terms serving his House district that includes much of Spokane. No one even bothered to challenge Parker in 2010.
“I don’t have any delusions about our chances, and yet I don’t think it’s impossible,” Spitzer said in an interview at Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s farewell party on Wednesday at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. “It takes a leap of faith and just a little dose of magical thinking.”
Spitzer, 45, has had many jobs since he graduated from University High School in 1984, but he probably is best known as an independent filmmaker, who produced science fiction programming and short films, including the series “Dead of Night” which ran on a cable access channel in Spokane in the mid-1990s. And, yes, some of his work is thankfully available on YouTube. Here’s a Spokesman-Review story about “Dead of Night” from 1996.
A third Republican candidate has entered the race to replace state Rep. John Ahern.
Ben Oakley, the legislative aide for state Rep. Kevin Parker, filed paperwork earlier this week announcing his bid with the state Public Disclosure Commission.
Oakley joins Republicans Larry Keller, the superintendent of the Cheney School District, and Spokane attorney Jeff Holy. Former state Rep. Dennis Dellwo, a Democrat, also is running.
Ahern announced last month that he would not seek reelection for his 6th Legislative District seat.
Oakley, 29, worked for Parker's office for three years until he stepped down last week to run for the office.
Democrats will give voters a choice in at least one race in the 6th Legislative District.
Former state Democratic state Rep. Dennis Dellwo filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission last month announcing a bid to challenge Republican state Rep. John Ahern.
Democrats had success in the 6th District, which surrounds central Spokane on the south, west and north, in 2006 and 2008. But they lost all three seats in 2010 and redistricting may have shifted the district more toward the GOP camp.
Dellwo, 66, served 13 years in the Legislature serving the 3rd District. He was first elected in 1982. He left in 1996 to take a position on the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. He said he moved into the 6th District a three years ago and lives near Polly Judd Park on the South Hill.
Under the watchful eye of Ronald Reagan's portrait, Rick Santorum holds a press conference in the House Republican Caucus Room
OLYMPIA – Looking for a chance to “plant a flag” in Washington for the March 3 precinct caucuses, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum stopped by the state Capitol Monday to chat with GOP legislators.
OLYMPIA – House Republicans, who say they are fed up with the slow pace of budgeting process in a session where that was supposed to be the main thing the Legislature tackled, argued Thursday for a new approach.
The state should set aside what it wants to spend on K-12 education first, then figure out what’s left for other state programs. They call it "Fund Education First" and say it’s in line with both the state Constitution’s declaration that education in the state's public schools is the state’s "paramount duty" and a recent state Supreme Court ruling that the Legislature must do more to meet that duty.
"This is not a gimmick. It’s a workable solution," said Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, a co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would make that change in budgeting.
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….
The Washington Policy Center, a nonprofit, business advocacy group, is holding a "special session" Wake-Up Forum Thursday morning at the Quality Inn, 8923 E. Mission, in Spokane Valley.
The 7 a.m. free session will include comments by two area legislators, Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, and Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane Valley. Parker will attend the meeting; Ormsby will plug in by videoconference.
They'll discuss what they see occurring in the special session convened this week in Olympia, to conclude work on a Washington state budget.
To sign up for the event, call either Chris Cargill at 509-570-2384, or register at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
OLYMPIA — Two questions for the big thinkers out there:
Do you have an idea how to improve Washington state in the future?
Do you think it would stack up so well to other peoples' ideas that it could make the top 100?
If so, a group calling itself 100 Ideas for Washington's Future has a deal for you. (And, of course, a website, because you can't do anything in 2011 without a website.)
The group is trying to get as many ideas as possible to an Advisory Board that will divvy them up, check them out and try to come up an even hundred. Those top 100 will go in sort of a greatest hits book, with details of the ideas and attribution to the person or persons who thought it up. The book will go to government officials, civic leaders and others around the state, and could wind up as legislation or administrative laws if any of them have a "Eureka!" moment while perusing the pages.
The program is the brainchild of Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, who is getting an assist from several other elected officials, including Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane. Hope notes, however, that it's been tried successfully in Florida and Oklahoma, so they aren't coming up with this completely out of the blue.
Adults who come up with a list-making idea will have the satisfaction of seeing themselves in the book, and possible of seeing their idea turned into a law or a policy. High school or college students who come up with one would be eligible for scholarship money.
There's a few unknowns about this, Hope said this week when announcing the program. One is the size of the scholarships, which will depend on the donations. The other is some of the funding; they're looking for donors to the 501 (c) 4, that is the main organization, and the 501 (c) 3 that will hold scholarship money.
The group is still looking for people to sit on its Advisory Board that already includes some state and local politicians, along with represenatives of academia and business.
Reagan Dunn, a King County councilmember and member of the board, said the program is about representative democracy. "It's a way to directly connect citizens to their government."
While they mentioned transparency during the rollout at the Capitol Building, organizers said they won't necessarily be talking about where their money comes from, however. Hope said if someone wants to donate anonymously to the effort, or the scholarship program, theyl'll take it and not reveal the source. It's not a political organization or a campaign committee, so it's not subject to Public Disclosure Commission rules, Hope said.
And are there really 100 great ideas out there? Hope thinks so. When Gov. Chris Gregoire set up a website to ask for ideas to transform Washington, she got almost 2,000. A shortcoming for that process, he said, was that the person submitting the idea wasn't getting any credit. With this program, the top idea meisters would wind up in the book with their name, picture and bio along with their idea.
if that's an incentive for you, check out 100 Ideas For Washington's Future.
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.
6th Legislative District
Sen. Mike Baumgartner, Reps. Kevin Parker and John Ahern
10:30 a.m. Northwood Middle School gymnasium, 13120 N. Pittsburg St.
2 p.m., Education themed town hall at Northwood Middle School library, 13120 N. Pittsburg St.
5 p.m. town hall at the MAC, 2316 W. 1st Ave.
When tragedies occur like the shootings in Tucson or potential disasters like the bomb found Monday in downtown Spokane, state Rep. Kevin Parker tries to remember the lessons of Columbine.
Among the most important, the Spokane Republican said, is to trust your instincts and use common sense.
Parker was a volunteer youth counselor visiting a student at the Colorado high school the day of the 1999 shooting. Many students were saved, he said, because other students trusted their instincts and took a risk to help them.
Marchers in Spokane's Martin Luther King Day parade may have been saved because public facilities district workers trusted their instincts about a strange backpack on a bench, and police rerouted the parade.
"Common sense prevailed," he said.
Parker will cohost a forum Saturday on "understanding threats to our community" with Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. The meeting starts at 10 a.m. in Room 122 of the Phase 1 Building on WSU-Spokane Riverpoint Campus, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.
The most difficult thing about tragedies like Columbine and the Tucsion shootings may be trying to understand the motive, Parker said. There is no real trend that marks the people responsible. That may also be true of the bombing attempt when law enforcement officials find the would-be bomber, he added.
"In a general sense, they're all troubled. But they're all individuals," he said.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and state Rep. Kevin Parker will hold a town hall meeting Saturday to discuss public concerns over the bomb found along the parade route in downtown Spokane Monday.
The one-hour forum, “Understanding threats in our community”, will allow area residents to discuss their concerns and share ideas about the bomb that rerouted Spokane’s Martin Luther King Day parade as well as the Tucson shootings, Parker, R-Spokane, said.
“As a survivor of the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, I have learned it is essential we come together to talk about the safety of the community,” said Parker, who was a youth counselor talking with a student when those shootings occurred.
The town hall begins at 10 a.m. Saturday in Room 122 of the Phase 1 Building, WSU Riverpoint Campus, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.
OLYMPIA — Members of the Eastern Washington legislative delegation were chosen for several Republican leadership spots today.
Rep. Joel Kretz of Wauconda, whose 7th District stretches from Okanogan County to northwestern Spokane, was reappointed to the No. 2 spot, deputy leader of the House GOP caucus. (Fact check: Earlier version of this post had Kretz in the 9th.)
Reps. Kevin Parker of Spokane and Matt Shea of Spokane Valley were named assistant floor leaders.
The top House spot, House Republican leader, went to Rep. Richard DeBolt of Chehalis.
On the Senate side, Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla was re-elected Republican leader. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville was re-elected Republican floor leader.
Click on the image to get to the PDC’s interactive map on legislative campaign spending.
A Spokane legislative district is tops in the state for money raised by candidates, and near the top for spending that money before the August primary.
The 6th Legislative District – which curves around central Spokane’s core from the Whitworth and 5 Mile arreas to the South Hill – is often a pricey political battleground. Its last three state Senate races have been the three most expensive Senate races in state history, with the 2008 contest between Democrat Chris Marr and Republican Sen. Brad Benson at the very top of the list with nearly $818,000 spent for a seat that pays just over $42,000 per year.
This year is likely to follow that trend …click to go inside the blog and read the rest of this story or leave a comment.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and state Rep. Kevin Parker will be making presentations to the Republicans of Spokane County at 6:30 tonight.
McMorris Rodgers’ plans to explain “Where America is Headed” and Parker will discuss “The Condition of Our State.” (Haven’t seen advanced copies of either speech, but am guessing the subtitle to the first is “the wrong way” and the second “not good.”)
But the R of S C promise wine, beer and dessert along with the talk, in exchange for a donation of $10 - $20. It’s at the Quality Inn Valley Suites, Argonne and I-90.