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OLYMPIA — A bill that would require parental notification when a woman under 18 seeks an abortion in Washington could divide the Senate's "majority coalition" intent on passing bills on jobs, budget and education.
The notification bill, with strong support from Senate Republicans opposed to abortion, is likely to get a hearing in the next few weeks in the Law and Justice Committee, whose chairman Mike Padden of the Spokane Valley is a strong supporter. It would be the first bill dealing with parental notification on abortions to receive a Senate hearing in years, and support on the committee makes it likely to clear the panel.
Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, who serves as the leader of the coalition of all 23 Republicans and two Democrats, wants to doesn't support bringing such a divisive issue before the full Senate. Although the coalition will have to discuss whether to bring an abortion bill to the floor, he believes they should focus on three things: increasing jobs, getting a balanced and sustainable budget, and improving education.
"We will not divide our caucus on issues that are going to be divisive," Tom said as a press conference Thursday. At a later meeting with a delegation of local business and civic leaders from Spokane, Tom described himself as "100 percent pro-choice."
Sen. Mark Schoesler, the leader of the 23 Republicans in the caucus, said there's a wide range of issues addressed in bills being proposed because "members are free to introduce anything they want." Whether to bring the parental notification bill to the floor, if it gets out of committee, "is yet to be determined," he said.
OLYMPIA — Sen. Mike Baumgartner would serve as vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee next year under the proposed "coalition" majority in that chamber.
The Spokane Republican, who is halfway through his first term, said he thinks the coalition of the Senate's 23 Republicans and two Democrats which was announced earlier this week will lead to greater consensus and a better budget.
"One of my main goals in the Senate has always been to reform state government: make it leaner, more efficient, less costly and more service-oriented," he said in a prepared statement.
As vice chairman, he will be helping with the development of the operating budget, the spending plan for most state services, programs and salaries. In recent years, the Senate Ways and Means vice chairman is focuses on the capital budget, which deals with construction projects, but that job under the planned coalition majority will fall to Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.