Here’s what TVW is covering live this week (we’ll update this as more events are added):
Monday, May 18 at 2:30 p.m.: The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council is releasing the latest revenue forecast a month early at the request of legislators who are still negotiating a two-year operating budget deal. TVW will be live on television and the web at this link.
Tuesday, May 19 at 11 a.m.: TVW will be live with a press conference with Gov. Jay Inslee as he discusses the current special session. Watch live at this link.
Tuesday, May 19 at 1:30 p.m.: The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee is hearing a bill sponsored by Sen. Tim Sheldon that would ban teachers from collecting pay or benefits during a strike or work stoppage. TVW will be live on television and the web at this link.
Wednesday, May 20 at 10 a.m.: The House Committee on State Government is hearing a bill that requires out-of-state political committees and non-profit organizations to report political contributions to the state Public Disclosure Commission. TVW will be live on television and the web at this link.
Thursday, May 21 at 8 a.m.: The Senate Energy committee is holding a work session on “carbon reduction investments.” TVW will carry it live.
Family members of the mentally ill will be allowed to petition the courts for help getting a relative involuntarily committed, following the signing of “Joel’s Law” by Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday.
The bill is named for Joel Reuter, who was having a mental health breakdown when he was killed in 2013 in a shootout with Seattle police.
Joel Reuter’s parents, Doug and Nancy, speak to the media.
His father, Doug Reuter, told reporters his son was struggling with an “evil, evil” mental illness, but it was manageable with medication that would have allowed him to go back to work at his job as a software engineer.
Doug and his wife, Nancy, attempted to get their son mental health help dozens of times.
If the bill had been in effect, they say they could have gotten Joel involuntarily committed several months before he was shot. Joel would have turned 30 this month, his parents said.
“For the first time in four decades, families have standing in superior court to get their loved ones the help they need,” Doug Reuter said following the bill signing.
Inslee signed the bill using a glass pen blown by Joel’s father. His parents said they found it in Joel’s apartment in a box labeled “Keep Forever.”
Thursday at 9:30 a.m.: Democratic leaders including Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan and Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson are holding a press conference to update reporters on the session. TVW taped the event and it will be posted online here later in the day.
Thursday at 10:45 a.m.: Gov. Jay Inslee is signing several bills, including one that aims to improve oil train safety in Washington. Following the bill signing, the governor will briefly answer questions. Maia Bellon from the Dept. of Ecology, Dave Danner from Utilities and Transportation Commission, Robert Ezelle from the state Military Department, and Rob Duff, the governor’s policy adviser on natural resources, will also hold a Q&A about the oil transportation bill and new federal oil train regulations. TVW cannot live webcast the event, however we are taping it and it will be posted online here later in the day.
Thursday at noon: Sen. Barbara Bailey and Sen. Steve O’Ban will have an “announcement regarding Auditor Troy Kelley’s leave of absence,” according to a press release. TVW will be live on television and the web.
Thursday at noon: The Economic Revenue and Forecast Council is holding a meeting to discuss the timing of next revenue forecast. TVW is live on the web only here.
Two state representatives filed a resolution Tuesday to begin the process of impeaching State Auditor Troy Kelley for “malfeasance of office,” which they say includes the abandonment of his office and illegally delegating authority to an unelected official.
Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, and Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, introduced the resolution at a press conference Tuesday that calls for the indicted auditor to resign. If Kelley refuses, the resolution creates a committee of six members of the House to begin drafting articles of impeachment.
“All of this lies squarely on the shoulders of Troy Kelley,” MacEwen said. “It rests squarely with him and the resolution rests with him.”
However, the resolution looks unlikely to advance to a vote on the House floor while negotiations on the budget are ongoing.
House Speaker Frank Chopp said in a statement released just before Tuesday’s press conference that “now is not the time” for impeachment proceedings, adding that House Republican Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen agrees.
Chopp said impeachment proceedings would be a “major distraction from the more pressing and time-sensitive challenges” facing the Legislature as it negotiates a two-year operating budget.
Stokesbary said he remains optimistic there will be time during the special session to vote on the resolution. “I think it is possible to handle multiple things at once,” he said.
Kelley is taking an undefined leave of absence from his position as auditor while facing federal charges of tax evasion, stealing money and lying under oath. He has delegated authority to Jan Jutte, the office’s director of operations.
It takes 50 votes for the House to impeach. The Senate would then hold a trial, which requires two-thirds of the chamber’s members to vote for a conviction and remove Kelley from office.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler said at a media availability on Tuesday the resolution is a step to explore “whether you really have a case.”
“If the majority in the House is willing to look into it, I think a resolution to study it is better than taking the next step,” Schoesler said.
The Republican media availability is posted online at TVW here. Members also answered questions about budget negotiations, saying they are continuing to go through the House and Senate budgets line-by-line to identify differences.
Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, said they expect to spend another day going through the budgets, then he believes the next step is up to the House. “Are they willing to pass a tax package they’ll vote for and then allow us to frame a box that we can sit down and negotiate with?” he said.
The House has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday on a proposed capital gains tax, and a hearing Thursday on a cap-and-trade plan that would raise $500 million.
Here’s what TVW is airing live on Tuesday, May 12:
Tuesday at 9 a.m.: The Senate Natural Resources committee is holding a work session on naming parks, elk hoof disease and fish passage barrier removal. TVW is live on television and the web.
Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.: Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, and Sen. John Braun will hold a press conference to give the Republican perspective on the ongoing special session. Although TVW cannot go live from the location, we will tape it and post it online here as soon as possible.
Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.: The Senate Law and Justice committee is holding a public hearing on a measure dealing with drunk driving, as well as a bill that would allow for someone to represent a victim in court if he or she has no family. The proposal cites the murder of Arlene Roberts, who was strangled in her home in 1978 at the age of 80. She had no surviving family to speak on her behalf during the sentencing, so a detective asked the court for the maximum sentence. The state Supreme Court later ruled in an appeal that an officer cannot undermine a plea agreement between the state and defendant. TVW is live on television and the web with the hearing.
Tuesday at 3 p.m.: Representatives Drew MacEwen and Drew Stokesbary will hold a press conference to introduce a resolution to establish a committee that would draft articles of impeachment against Troy Kelley. The state auditor is facing federal charges of tax evasion, and has taken an unspecified leave of absence. TVW will live webcast the press conference at this link.
Latvia’s ambassador to the United States made his first-ever official visit to Washington state’s Capitol late last month with a message for state leaders: Latvia is an independent country, free from Russia’s grip and eager to trade.
Latvian Ambassador Andris Razans and President Barack Obama.
“Europe is not only five countries,” Ambassador Andris Razans told TVW during his visit to Olympia. “There are other countries in Europe – smaller, but with great potential, great opportunities.”
Part of the former Soviet Union, Latvia was under Russian occupation from 1940 to 1991. In the more than 20 years since, the small country of barely more than 2 million people has grown into its independence, now serving in the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the leadership role that rotates among 28 member countries.
Now, for the first time, the Baltic state is reaching out to Washington state as part of a larger effort to encourage trade with other nations. “Our problem is we have been hidden behind that double Berlin wall from during Cold War times – a small wall in Berlin, a huge Soviet border in our case,” he said. “That’s past, that’s history, I think now it’s really important to engage.”
Razans was in Olympia to promote the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a controversial proposal that would create the world’s largest free-trade zone between the EU and United States.
The deal would merge regulatory standards, allowing the two economic superpowers to trade freely and in higher volumes, covering nearly half of the world’s gross domestic product. Razans said it’s a win for both sides. “It will determine development in the next decade, not only on our side of the Atlantic, but here as well,” he said.
But the proposal has faced opposition on both continents. Critics worry the proposal would undermine democracy, allowing big business to take legal action against laws that threaten free-trade or lead to smaller profits – laws like minimum wage.
Washington state has a role in the economic relationship between the two continents, Razans said. “Washington definitely is among that states that do trade with Europe in very big volumes, with great companies and products every European kid knows,” he said.
That’s part of what Razans told Washington’s Lt. Gov. Brad Owen during his visit to the state, which included a tour of the Boeing Co. and meeting with University of Washington students.
He said it’s part of a new effort for Latvia. “We come from 50 years of situations where nobody really tried to develop our exports,” he said. “I’m trying now to understand as Ambassador where we have these intersections.”
One of the products Razans hopes Latvia and Washington will intersect: wine. “We are not the greatest nation on Earth at producing wine,” he said. “Latvian wine is undrinkable, I think. It’s just for fun and personal pleasure. Washington is a great wine-producing state.”
Latvia can offer music in return. “Latvia definitely punches high, high, high above our weight in music,” he said. “Among the top ten opera stars these days, top four or five are Latvians. Out of 2 million people, is not that bad.”
Washington leaders have not voiced concerns about the international trade agreement, Razans said, but supporters in the EU face one powerful opponent: Russia.
Latvia’s neighbor that occupied the country for more than half a century has been “financing and working against this deal,” Razans said. He said Russia is behind campaigns and non-governmental organizations that aim to “make sure there is no agreement between Europe and the United States.”
Russia’s threat to Latvia
Russian military activity is increasing in the Baltic region, and after the country’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, some say that could have troublesome implications for Latvia. The country is made up of 26 percent ethnic Russians – more than Ukraine.
But Razans said the threat is exaggerated. “We don’t have a direct military threat,” he said. “When I read that we might be the next target, I think it’s stupidity at a high level, it would be the same thing to say one country has quite many Muslim population, it doesn’t mean that all will fight in Syria or Iraq in ISIS.”
Russia has impacted Latvia’s political and trade relationships in the past, but now, his country is part of the EU and things are different, Razans said. That’s what he hopes Washington leaders will come away with after his visit.
“I wish that they put a pin on European map with the name Latvia,” he said. “Latvia might look small on a map, but if you take into account that we are part of the EU internal market, it’s not that small at all.”
Latvia will serve in the six-month rotating EU presidency until July, when Luxembourg will take over.
Watch an edited portion of TVW’s interview with Razans below:
On our final weekly edition of “Legislative Review” for this year, we recap discussion of an oil train bill that passed on the final day of session. Plus, all the events of the week leading up to Sine Die.
“Legislative Review” will be back for an hourlong year-in-review show after the end of special session.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill on Wednesday granting college tuition to the spouses and children of state transportation workers who died on the job. We hear from families impacted by the bill on Wednesday’s edition of “Legislative Review.” Plus, the governor issues a partial veto of a bill that would have allowed drivers to travel up to 75 miles per hour on parts of Interstate 90.
“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.
On Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review” we have the latest on a possible special session, as well as a bill in the House that requires law enforcement to test rape kits within 30 days. Plus, a bill passes out of the Senate that aims to reduce the use of isolation and restraint on special needs students in school.
“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.
TVW is nominated for three Emmy Awards by the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
A one-hour special report on drones called “Flight Plan: Charting a Course for Drones in Washington” is nominated in the Politics/Government special program category. Those nominated include producer Christina Salerno, photographer and editor Lars Peterson, and photographer Brett Hansen.
A segment on “The Impact” about involuntary commitment is nominated in the Health/Science special program category. Those nominated include host and executive producer Anita Kissee, director Nate Shaw and videographer and editor Markisha Lynch.
“Myths and Misperceptions About the Washington Court” is nominated in the Informational/Instructional special program category. Those nominated include producers David Johnson and Jason Gutz, and executive producers Justice Mary Fairhurst and Margaret Fisher.
The Capitol Record is TVW's blog about state government. TVW is a non-profit network modeled after C-SPAN, airing gavel-to-gavel coverage of the state Legislature as well as independently produced shows. For comments or questions, e-mail Christina Salerno.