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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. . .

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Sunday Spin: Leftover from the I-502 campaign

OLYMPIA – Elections are designed to place a punctuation mark on political disputes. Sometimes it’s a full-stop period; other times, more of comma, pausing to allow one to take a breath before the argument continues.

That seems the case with Initiative 502, which as most of the world knows opens the door for adults to smoke marijuana in private. (Who among us hasn’t had a reprobate relative, old high school buddy or college roommate call to suggest they were planning a visit to, wink-wink, take in the air of democracy in the Evergreen State, or something equally prosaic?)

Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to I-502 knew that passing the ballot measure was just the start of a long process for state officials to wrestle with regulating what has so far been unregulatable: the growing, processing and selling of something the feds consider a dangerous drug of the highest order. There’s a full year of wrangling ahead on that.

Also leftover from the campaign is a complaint stemming from an October rally in the Capitol Rotunda which featured television travel guru Rick Steves and state Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia. Planned to generate support for I-502, the rally also drew opponents.. . 

School Board campaign limits pass House

OLYMPIA — A proposal to place the same limits on campaign contributions to school board candidates that apply to legislators and other city and county candidates passed the House overwhelmingly Friday.

But not before some grousing by a few Republicans who thought the Legislature has better things to do.

Rep. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said HB 2210 puts a limit of $800 on contributions to school board candidates. While most contributions are far less, in a few instances last year they were much more. One of them was in his district, Billig added. 

“These limits, they give confidence to voters, they reduce the opportunity for corruption and undue influence of large donations,” said Billig, the bill's prime sponsor.

That was a reference to last year's Spokane District 81 School Board race, in which Duane Alton, a retired tire dealer and longtime Republican activist, gave unsuccessful board candidate Sally Fullmer $6,350, which was almost half of all the money she raised.

House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, accused Billig and other Democrats of proposing a “cookie cutter solution” — and even worse a Seattle solution.

“We have Seattle pushing its rules on the rest of Washington,” DeBolt complained. Seattle can limit their contributions and “gum up their works.”

“If Seattle thinks they need to limit their contributions or add a dollar in their electric bill to pay for things like elections, then they can do that,” he added. The bill would make schools “go through more costs…when we're in a time when we can't even fully fund education, then I think that's absurd and that's exactly what's wrong with this place.”

(Note: There's really nothing in the bill that calls for adding a fee to electric bills to pay for elections, or placing the cost of elections or tracking contributions on schools.)

Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, countered with a “clarification” that the district Billig was talking about was in Eastern Washington.

The bill passed 71-24. You can see the entire debate in the video above.