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War of words over Syrian refugees

OLYMPIA – A war of words between state officials over whether Washington should accept Syrian refugees developed in the state Capitol Friday, even though the decision is largely out of their hands.

Gov. Jay Inslee told legislators they should bone up on the extensive security checks refugees must go through, which he said are nothing like those that allegedly allowed one of the Paris terrorists to slip into Europe through Greece. State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, suggested Inslee should be impeached.

Inslee responded to a group of state senators who wrote him earlier in the week to “pause” and take time assure the people the refugees would be screened “to ensure that the bloodshed of Paris will not happen in the concert halls and cafes of our cities and towns.” The governor laid out the multistep screening process that American refugees must pass.

“I have never made any such statements,” he wrote. “Governors play no role in the process.”

Supporters and opponents of accepting refugees staged competing demonstations, with speeches and signs outside the Capitol Building. The Seattle Times reported Shea told opponents of the resettlement that lawmakers next session should impeach Inslee if the governor didn’t change his stance on refugees.

ID take note: WA child custody law signed

OLYMPIA – Obeying federal requirements to make state law conform to an international treaty on child support rulings is forcing a special session in Idaho. But on Friday, a bill that allows Washington to meet those requirements was signed into law with little fanfare.

Senate Bill 5498 passed both chambers of the Legislature unanimously after Spokane Valley Republicans proposed amendments to ease concerns that Washington residents could somehow be subjected to Sharia law – the Islamic legal system based partly on the Koran – in conflict with the state and federal constitutions.

“We sure don't want to have somebody bound by Sharia law or some other foreign law that would conflict with our constitution,” said state Sen. Mike Padden, who proposed one of the amendments.

Similar concerns among Idaho legislators led to a bill dying on the final day of that state’s legislative session. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has called a special session for May 18 in hopes of passing a revised bill and avoiding the loss of some $16 million in federal payments contingent on the state agreeing conform to the treaty.

Padden said he knew of no case in Washington involving an international custody dispute and Sharia law that came up during hearings on the bill. But people were concerned about that possibility, he said, and “I don’t think it hurts to have those protections.”

A lawyer and a former district court judge, Padden proposed an amendment to the bill that says any order from a foreign court that violates a Washington resident’s constitutional rights would require the state Department of Social and Health Services to request a waiver of those provisions from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But the federal agency can deny the waiver. Rep. Matt Shea, his seatmate who is also a lawyer, added an amendment that a Washington court can refuse to enforce an order from a foreign court that “would result in a violation of any right guaranteed by the state or federal constitutions.”

With those amendments, the bill passed the House and Senate.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said the issue is complicated because it involves an international treaty, which the Legislature can’t change. There is also a congressional order that a state must update its child support laws to conform to that treaty by this July or risk losing some federal funding for Temporary Aid to Needy Families.

That threat to cut federal TANF money was a significant problem for Senate Republicans, Padden said: “I think the federal government’s approach in this area was the greatest overreach I’ve ever seen.”

One key to the compromise, Pedersen said, is the amendments in the bill aren’t put into state statutes that involve the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, so that section of the law contains the unaltered language of the international agreement. Instead, the amendments are put into a separate section of state law that lays out special rights and immunities for court actions.

Whether those provisions will ever be used is hard to predict, Pedersen said. The law mostly deals with cases involving child support or custody orders from another state and “there’s not a huge number of international orders.”

Padden, who is chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, said he’s instructed staff to watch how the federal government handles any requests for waivers. “We’ve got rights as individual states.”

After signing the bill Friday, Inslee was asked if he had any concerns about Washington residents being subjected to Sharia law as a result of it becoming law. His answer was simple: “No.” 

WaLeg Day 93: House passes oil transport safety bill

OLYMPIA — The House passed a revised version of the oil  transportation safety bill, which would charge fees on oil shipments to help pay for preparations and cleanup of future spills.

Originally drafted and passed in the Senate to focus on oil trains, the House amended it to include pipeline shipments in an 8 cent per barrel tax, and require studies to update safety for marine shipments. Railroads would also see increased fees to help pay for improvements in crossings, be required to have spill cleanup contingency plans and oil facilities would have to give the weekly advance notice on shipments to the state Department of Ecology.

Under an amendment by Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, the House removed a provision to increase the size of crews on oil trains. Shea said such staffing levels are controlled by federal law, and trying to increase them by state law would invite litigation.

The final bill passed on a 58-40 vote, with all Spokane-area Republicans voting no, and its two Democrats voting yes.

WALeg Day 17: Splitsville for Washington? History says not likely

OLYMPIA – Eastern and Western Washington are so different they should be two separate states, says a new bill that would set up a way to split them apart.

If that sentiment sounds familiar, it’s probably because legislators from east of the Cascades have been saying it – and trying to find a way to divvy up the state – for at least 100 years. Wednesday was even the anniversary of a proposal introduced in the 1915 Legislature to split up the state, as recounted that day in Jim Kershner’s This Day In History.

Plans vary; results so far do not. Washington remains one state.

The most recent plan comes from a group of Republican representatives who introduced a bill Wednesday calling for a 10-person legislative task force to figure out the best way to split the state, divide up the assets like highways and prisons, money for schools, health and welfare program. The task force would be appointed by the political caucuses of the two chambers plus the governor, have members from both sides of the state and have to report by Sept. 30.

“The Legislature finds that since statehood, the livestyles, culture and economies of Eastern and Western Washington have been very distinct,” the bill says in its first section. Urbanization and rapid growth on the west side “have progressively heightened this divergence” it says.

The bill echoes sentiments that have appeared in at least six bills or resolutions that have been introduced since 1985. Some of those wanted to ask the president and Congress to split the state, others would have set up some kind of panel to redraw boundaries.

A sponsor or co-sponsor of many of those previous proposals was the late Sen. Bob McCaslin, a Spokane Valley Republican. His son, newly elected Rep. Bob McCaslin, also a Valley Republican, is a co-sponsor of the latest proposal. His seatmate, Rep. Matt Shea, is the prime sponsor.

“It’s partly to honor my dad’s memory,” the younger McCaslin said Wednesday. The proposal is primarily a “messaging bill”, he said, with sponsors trying to make a pitch for equality in funding for state programs and infrastructure.

To do that they’ll need to at least get a committee hearing on the bill or a floor debate, something that has eluded many previous efforts.

But Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said annual accounting of the money coming into the state coffers and going out in services consistently show that eight or nine counties usually pay more in taxes than they get back in services, and most of them are in Western Washington. The other 30 or 31 get more in state services and programs than the state collects in taxes, and almost all are in Eastern Washington.

East Side legislators are not alone in looking for ways to split the state. Jacob Kukuk of Arlington is mounting an effort, mainly through social media, that could eventually produce a ballot initiative to split Washington and call the new state Madison.

It would be named after President James Madison, the prime author of the U.S. Constitution, he said. Supporters might be gathering signatures for an initiative in 2016.

‘Constitutionalists’ protest at Spokane Valley Police Precinct

Michael Poulin, left, and Jeffrey Brandt, right, hold signs along Sprague Avenue during a protest Saturday by self-labeled constitutionalists in the parking lot of the Spokane Valley Police Precinct. Jesse Tinsley, SR photo 

The four most interesting things I learned in 2014 Spokane County elections

4. Voters at Fairchild Air Force Base support expanded background checks for gun sales – resoundingly.

Initiative 594 won the precinct at Fairchild 72 votes to 38. On the other hand, maybe they don't. Voters there also supported Initiative 591, though not by as much (59 votes to 51)

3. The days of calling the 6th Legislative District a swing district are gone.

When working on an election story recently, I was about to refer to the 6th as a swing district when my colleague, Jim Camden, reminded me that it only really swung for two elections. I might argue that the closeness of some other races besides the 2006 and 2008 cycles when Democrats won seats in the district made it a legitimate swing district longer than that, but his point is accurate; the 6th Legislative District, especially since redistricting, is Republican territory even when Democrats attract a well-known candidate and spend big.

2. Spokane loves its parks and loves its smooth streets even more.

Recent controversies about salaries of Mayor David Condon and other administrators at City Hall made many city leaders worried that voters would turn against the street levy and, especially, the park bond.

But whatever griping you might hear about City Hall, city leaders apparently have earned the trust of voters when it comes to streets and parks. Considering that voters under Mayor John Powers rejected a street tax at a time when streets clearly were in much worse condition, passing the street levy with nearly 78 percent support is a major turnaround. I’m guessing that the voters’ mood reflects that the city kept its promises after voters approved a street tax in 2004 under Mayor Jim West.

Plenty of money for general election, not so many votes

OLYMPIA – With control of the state Senate in the balance, legislative candidates could pull in record amounts of money. Some ballot measure campaigns also are spending heavily as the election deadline approaches.

Their fates may be decided by a relatively small number of voters. Early turnout is light throughout the state, and less than half of Spokane County’s eligible voters are expected to return their ballots. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.


Not a hero: Rancher’s federal land grab all about greed, arrogance

UPDATED 3:18 p.m. to properly attribute Taylor quote.

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Rep. Matt Shea has ridden out of his Spokane Valley district on his white horse to save us from the overpowering federal government as he stands in lock-step with a Nevada rancher who's stolen more than $1 million in grazing favors from public land.

Whom will Shea stand up for next? The guy who says he has a Constitutional right to rob the Post Office?

Shea says he was compelled to back Cliven Bundy as he joined Rep. Dave Taylor for a trip to the Bundy Ranch. As Taylor put it,“If we don’t stand up for our neighbors, there won’t be anybody left when they come for us.”

The confrontation stems around a Nevada rancher who doesn't recognize the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as the owner of the public land he wants to graze his cattle on. Bundy has declined to pay about $1 million in fees while he lets his stock run amock where law abiding ranchers don't.

Trouble is, the BLM isn't the only voice saying Bundy is breaking the law.  So have the courts, twice.  

The courts, at last check, are our nation's way of settling points of law.

BLM backed away from confiscating Bundy's cattle — seizing the stock was authorized by a judge — when supporters came in and posed the climate for a violent confrontation.

So where do we go from here?  

The public owns the land, not the rancher. If every man who fabricates a disagreement with the government decides to run his cattle — or cuts his trees, builds his roads, kills his game, nets his fish, or fires up his bulldozer — the way he sees fit, the American icon of public land will be lost.

That, Mr. Shea, is what's worth standing up for.   Not one man's greed and selfishness, but rather the rule of law and the overwhelming advantages of regulated public land.

Shea says feds making war on rural U.S.


YouTube video by Gavin Seim

The federal government has declared “war on rural America” with its rules and regulations on land use, a Spokane Valley legislator said in the wake of last week’s standoff between a Nevada rancher and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

In a speech on land near the center of the dispute, Republican Rep. Matt Shea called for federal land to be transferred to the states. A coalition of legislators from Western states was forming to stand up for Cliven Bundy and others in the fight against overbearing federal rules, he said.

But a spokesman for the group challenging Bundy's rights to graze hundreds of cattle on federal land without a permit or paying fees, said the rancher is trying to do something other cattlemen can't. And a federal judge's order supports that view. . . 


To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

To read the federal judge's order in the legal battle between the BLM and Cliven Bundy, click on the document below.


RPA passes House, not likely to get Senate vote

OLYMPIA — The Democratic House passed its latest version of a bill that would require insurance companies to cover abortion if they cover maternity care, but the Reproductive Parity Act seems unlikely to come to a vote in the Senate.

On a mostly partisan 54-44 vote, the bill passed despite objections from Republicans that it infringed on some people's religious rights because it forced them to pay premiums to a company for a procedure they found morally wrong.

Both sides used the term choice — a key word for supporters of abortion rights — in arguing their case. Opponents like Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said the Legislature was taking away the choice of people who want a policy that doesn't cover abortion."There's no choice in a mandate," Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said.

 Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, said he supported the bill because it left the choice on whether to have an abortion to the woman, not to her employer who decides what policy to offer, or the insurance company. "There is no choice that is more significant to a woman," Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said.

As is typical for abortion legislation, the debate sometimes got emotional. Rep. Leonard Christian, R-Spokane Valley, compared the bill to Nazi Germany, saying that some churches covered up the fact that Jews were being shipped concentration camps by playing their music louder as the trains passed. Some churches are objecting to the bill, but some legislators were playing their music louder and not listening, he said.

The Senate, which is controlled by a predominantly Republican coalition, is not likely to have an emotional debate over the RPA, or any vote at all. Majority Caucus Chairwoman Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee said she didn't believe the bill was necessary because abortion is covered by most insurance. (Editor's note: Sen. Evans Parlette's caucus position was incorrect in earlier versions of this post.)

"I think it's not going to come up for a vote," Evans Parlette said.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said he personally supports the legislation but doesn't think it's as important as some other issues the Legislature faces this session.

"We leave full discretion up to our committee chairs," Tom said. The bill died in committee last year.

Barring road art might not save much

OLYMPIA — The state Transportation Department would be barred from spending highway construction money for art or special concrete designs on walls and bridges under a Valley legislator's bill.
But that might not save much money to spend on other projects. The department said it doesn't spend any money on art for road or bridge projects, and the most elaborate concrete designs seen alongside highways around the state are funded by local communities.
In an effort to find ways to make the state's transportation dollars go farther, Rep. Matt Shea proposed HB 2092 that would bar money from designated sources like gasoline taxes from going to art or artistic designs
"There's a perception out there that we spend a lot of money on art and textured concrete," Shea told the House Transportation Committee Tuesday.
The Art in Public Places program, established by the Legislature in 1974, requires one-half of 1 percent of the cost of a public building to be spent on art projects. But that doesn't apply to transportation projects, Alyssa Ball, a researcher for the committee said, because the state Constitution requires fuel taxes and vehicle fees to spent only for highway purposes.
Textured concrete can add 1 percent or less to the cost of the concrete on a bridge or wall, but studies show it cuts down on maintenance and is less likely to be targeted by graffiti, Pasco Bakotich, a design engineer, said.
The department's design manual does call for textured concrete "architectural finishes" but if a community wants anything beyond 10 standard designs, it pays the extra cost, Bakotich said.
What about the Transportation Department's buildings, Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Lynden, asked. How much is spent on art for them that could be spent instead on road construction?
Mike Sweeney from the state Arts Commission, which administers the public arts program, said he'd have to research the total, but added there hasn't been anything spent since 1999 "and we don't have anything in the works."
Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Ballard, said she was a big fan of public art projects because otherwise buildings would "look like the Soviet Union."

Abortion foes fill Capitol mall

Rep. Matt Shea urges demonstrators for the March for LIfe to continue the fight against legalized abortion.

OLYMPIA — The annual March for Life brought several thousand demonstrators to the Capitol Tuesday, filling the north steps of the Legislative Building and the Temple of Justice.

Demonstrators cheered legislators of both parties who urged them to continue the against abortion and the Reproductive Parity Act, a proposal that would require almost any insurance policy that covers maternity benefits to also cover pregnancy termination.

State Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said it was wrong to put completing a pregnancy on parity with ending a pregnancy.

The Washington State Patrol troopers on the scene estimated the crowd at between 3,000 and 4,000. A handful of abortion rights supporters gathered with signs in an area between the two steps.

Oath Keepers speak out re: media coverage

Rep. Matt Shea of the Spokane Valley makes an impassioned floor speech in March 2011.

COEUR d’ALENE —“Prepare, plan and stay informed,” said Washington State Rep. Matt Shea, quoting from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website.

“Why is it that when we say that it is mischaracterized as we want a revolution?” he asked a group of about 50 Oath Keepers who held a meeting at the Coeur d’Alene Library Thursday evening to discuss how the media portrayed the Northwest Patriot and Preparedness Rally they held at Farragut State Park last month.

"Anyone who has ever been in combat would never want to see that happen,” Shea said, adding he has done two tours of combat.

The Oath Keepers is an organization of military veterans, police, firefighters and other first responders, who have sworn a oath to uphold the Constitution.

The group’s goal is to educate its members on the Constitution and encourage them to follow the oaths that they have taken whether they are active duty or retired.

“We want to make sure they don’t inadvertently follow unconstitutional orders,” said John Mackey, coordinator for the District 4 Chapter of the Oath Keepers. Full story, Jeff Selle, Cda Press

Do you think recent coverage of the Oath Keepers has been inaccurate?

Joker’s Open Letter To Matt Shea

Dear Matt Shea,

I’ve watched your political career from afar and let me say wholeheartedly, I am a huge fan. Unfortunately, I can’t vote for you because you’re living in the wrong state. This letter is an open invitation for you to move to Idaho. Bring your family. You can win any office in Idaho. You can be governor. Your opponent probably is going to be a guy named Raul. Seriously! We’ll even give you his address so you can take pictures of yourself standing in his driveway. You won’t be criticized, you’ll be celebrated. You can live among like-minded people. You don’t have to worry about explaining yourself to the lame stream media that is biased against patriots like yourself. Joker's complete open letter here.

Question: Could Washington state Rep. Matt Shea win office in North Idaho?

Shea angry at S-R for Lewiston Trib item

State Rep. Matt Shea is castigating The Spokesman-Review on Facebook, essentially suggesting that the newspaper is picking on him again. He's interested in truth in journalism, so we'll offer a bit.

First, the post:  

There they go again…the Spokesman Review published another flat our untruth this morning trying to claim by implication that Dale Pearce and myself want to "rewrite the constitution." I am calling for a formal retraction by the Review. In fact, Dale Pearce was arguing AGAINST any modification or rewriting of the Constitution by an Article V convention. In the interest of truth in journalism just thought you would like to know…

Because this was posted on Thursday morning, a casual reader might assume there's something in the Thursday edition of the newspaper that mentions Shea, Pearce or the survival gathering at Farragut State Park last weekend. Don't go looking for a copy. There isn't.

There is an item in the Huckleberries blog from Wednesday which probably caught his eye, and maybe he didn't notice the date. Or maybe he assumed everything online goes into the newspaper. Or maybe he just didn't sign into Facebook on Wednesday and got around to posting Thursday. In any event, for those who don't check Huckleberries . .

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Rep. Shea: Vito’s Radical Buddy

Reps. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, and Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, were featured speakers at a survivalist rally at Farragut State Park/Bayview last weekend. Rachel Maddow discussed Shea's presence in a blog post, citing the Southern Poverty Law Center's data about him:

In a profile of Shea, the SPLC said that he has not recently been involved in the immigration issue, but he is actively perpetuating a conspiracy that the government has plans to disarm Americans and round them up into concentration camps run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  His talk at the rally didn't mention the concentration camps, but he did urge attendees to get organized and to prepare for when the government steps in after the "inevitable collapse. When it happens, we need to look at this as an opportunity, not a crisis," he said. "Who's job is liberty? That's our job." (Rep. Matt Shea, 2nd from left, with Idaho Reps. Phil Hart, left, and Vito Barbieri, right, at 2012 Ron Paul rally in Spokane.)

Question: Is this the type of guy you want your representative running with?

Shea’s trip highlighted by MSNBC

MSNBC, though liberal commentator's Rachel Maddow's blog, is featuring Spokane Valley state Rep. Matt Shea after he appeared at a survivalist rally over the weekend.

Shea's comments at the rally, as reported by the Coeur d'Alene Press, are similar to ones he's made at other events in the last few years. His views were known when he easily won reelection last year, and he was backed for reelection by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.

House passes estate tax ‘fix’

OLYMPIA — The House approved a change in the estate tax to address a loss in court that could cost the state more than $40 million in the coming weeks.

On a 53-33 vote, it approved a deal negotiated with Senate Republicans that could keep refund checks being sent tomorrow to families that challenged one aspect of the estate tax that was enacted in 2005. It provides some new deductions for family owned businesses that have high property assets but relatively small cash reserves. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

State officials restricted from lobbying


OLYMPIA – State officials who ask the Legislature for more money or expanded programs could be fined, and pay the penalty out of their own pocket, if they don’t properly file lobbying reports with the Public Disclosure Commission.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, sets up a civil penalty of $100 per statement on a state agency head who fails to file lobbying reports with the commission and allows any state official or employee who improperly spends public money on lobbying to be fined.

Supporters say it’s a way to keep public money from being used to lobby for more public money. It doesn’t keep state officials from supplying information in response to legislative requests.

Signed Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee, it takes effect at the beginning of 2014.

House passes $8.4 billion Transportation Budget

OLYMPIA — House Democrats passed a two-year spending plan for the state's transportation system today, overcoming Republican objections about a controversial bridge over the Columbia River and the way tolls are set on roads and bridges.

Included in the bill is some $79 million for projects in Spokane County, including about $68 million for the North Spokane Corridor. In an amendment sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, before the final vote, any money saved in the next two years on that project will be held and spend on future portions of the longtime Spokane road project.

Transportation budgets are often bipartisan bills in the Legislature, but this proposal had several elements that caused some Republicans to balk. One is some $450 million for the Columbia River Crossing, a controversial bridge connecting Vancouver with Portland that critics say is poorly designed and too expensive, in part because of the inclusion of light rail capacity. Light rail exists on the Oregon side of the river, but not the Washington side.

The other is the delegation of the authority to set fees on bridges and toll roads to the Washington Transportation Commission, rather than requiring the Legislature to set them.

'It's a solid budget. It doens't have a lot of frills," Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said.

Riccelli said it was a good budget for Eastern Washington, with money for transportation projects that help farmers and local businesses plus the "Safe Routes to Schools" program as well as the North Spokane Corridor.

But Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said some of the priorities were misplaced, by spending money for the State Patrol to set up traffic cameras to control speeders in some areas rather than hiring more troopers and only supplying partial money for the North Spokane Corridor rather than the whole project. "Clearly this budget needs a lot more work," Shea said.

It will get more work. After passing on a 68-28 vote, the bill now moves to the Senate which has some different plans on how to spend the state's transportation money

Shea has telephone town hall tonight

Rep. Matt Shea will have telephone town hall session Wednesday evening which will give voters a chance to call in their questions about the current legislative session.

The Spokane Valley Republican likened it to a radio call-in talk show, where voters from his 4th Legislative District can ask questions between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. from the comfort of their homes.

Interested citizens call a toll-free number, 1-877-229-8493, then enter the PIN number 15550 when asked.

Shea has call-in Wednesday evening

Rep. Matt Shea will have telephone town hall session Wednesday evening which will give voters a chance to call in their questions about the current legislative session.

The Spokane Valley Republican likened it to a radio call-in talk show, where voters from his 4th Legislative District can ask questions between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. from the comfort of their homes.

Interested citizens call a toll-free number, 1-877-229-8493, then enter the PIN number 15550 when asked.

House passes election changes

OLYMPIA – Some would-be voters would have more time to register online, and younger ones could “pre-register” as early as age 16 under election law changes approved Thursday by the House.

Often by large margins, the House passed and sent to the Senate a handful of bills that supporters said will increase participation in elections. . .

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

State could legalize hemp along with pot

OLYMPIA — The cannabis plant could provide Washington state with two new agricultural crops: One for smoking, and one making rope and fabric.

Different strains of the plant would be used for the different products, and different state agencies would control the different crops. But they share one key similarity: They're currently both against federal law.
Despite the federal ban, the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee this morning approved HB 1888, a bill that would pave the way for farmers to grow industrial hemp in Washington. Legislators and a representative from the state Agriculture Department agreed there are some details that need to be worked out… 

Background check bill passes House panel


OLYMPIA – A bill requiring almost all gun buyers in Washington to undergo a background check passed a key House panel Tuesday and will likely be part of a package of gun laws up for a floor vote in March.

Despite heavy criticism last week from gun-rights activists, the House Judiciary Committee passed the so-called Universal Background Check bill on a 7-6 vote.

It would require buyers in most private firearms sales either to submit to the same background check they would undergo if buying the gun at a licensed dealer or to produce a valid state concealed pistol license. . .

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

WA Lege Day 16: Electoral College change pushed

OLYMPIA — Changing the way the state casts its Electoral College votes for president would be fairer to Eastern Washington voters, a Spokane Valley legislator said Tuesday.

It’s a way Republicans could win the White House through gerrymandered districts without a majority of the popular vote, said the Democratic chairman of the House committee considering the proposal.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said a bill he’s sponsoring would award most of the state’s Electoral College votes based on the outcome of the presidential race in each of the Washington’s 10 congressional districts. Two of the Electoral College votes, which are given each state for its two U.S. senators, would go to the state’s overall winner. . .

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

Did Shea break pledge to Republican group?

In August, state Rep. Matt Shea appeared to be mending bridges in the local Republican Party.

He attended a meeting of the Republicans of Spokane County and won the group's endorsement. The Republicans of Spokane County is an organization that formed a few years ago among some Republicans concerned that the official Spokane County Republican Party had been taken over by Libertarians and Constitutionalists not dedicated to party unity after the primaries.

Shea, who was an effective leader in the Ron Paul for president campaign, has been outspoken in his criticism of "mainstream Republicans." In the primary, he declined to offer a recommendation for incumbent Republican and nationally recognized GOP leader, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the race for Congress. For governor, he supported Shahram Hadian over Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Debates will feature county commission candidates, Biviano

Candidates for Spokane County Commission will face off Wednesday evening in student-led debates hosted by the Central Valley High School’s Government Club.

The club also has invited the candidates in the hotly-contest Spokane Valley race for state House between incumbent Republican Matt Shea and Democrat Amy Biviano. Biviano is scheduled to attend. Shea has not responded to phone calls and emails inviting him to participate, said Central Valley teacher Bill Gilchrist.

SR Picks Playboy Vet Over Shea Fear

If there were a political version of the TV show “Fear Factor,” Republican Rep. Matt Shea would make an excellent host. Fear of U.S. currency. Fear of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Fear of “FEMA camps” where, according to a conspiracy theory, citizens will be held once invading federal troops round them up. No wonder he keeps a gun stashed in his car. We would’ve liked to discuss these views and more, but he was alone among local candidates in declining to return our calls. So we’re left with lines like this from a speech to the Constitution Party, “How long will we continue to beg like dogs only to be satisfied with a few scraps from the king’s table?” Shea supported Constitution Party candidate Randall Yearout rather than Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the 5th District congressional primary. His desire for states to unilaterally nullify federal laws shows he’s a fringe thinker. To borrow a phrase, he’s a Republican in name only/Spokesman-Revew Editorial Board. More here. (Rep. Matt Shea, 2nd from left, with Idaho Reps. Phil Hart, left, and Vito Barbieri, right, at Ron Paul rally in Spokane earlier this year.)

Question: Izzit just me, or does Shea sound as thought he'd fit in perfectly in Idaho's Legislative District 2 or 3?

Clark: A Race That Keeps Giving

The tipster called me midday Friday with two eye-popping political developments, namely that 4th District state legislative candidate Amy Biviano appeared topless in a 1995 Playboy magazine spread. Five words immediately came to mind. “Well, it’s about damned time!” (Contractions don’t count.) See, I’ve been around politics a long time. And the mantra of every politician is that they have “absolutely nothing to hide.” Which always turns out to be an utter falsehood when candidate so-and-so is found to be heavy into cross-dressing or addicted to toilet stall sex in airport men’s rooms. And those are just Republicans. So this is the first time in my recollection that a candidate really does have NOTHING TO HIDE!/Doug Clark, SR. More here. And: Previous thread: Topless photo? confidence building

Other SR weekend columns:

Question: If you had the right stuff to pose for Playboy/Playgirl, would you?