Archive for WA House

First step in impeachment proceedings of Troy Kelley introduced in House

By | May 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

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.

TVW taped Tuesday’s impeachment press conference — watch it online here.

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.

Mary Dye selected to replace Rep. Susan Fagan in 9th District

By | May 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

Mary Dye, a wheat farmer from Pomeroy and state committeewoman for the Garfield County GOP, was sworn in on Friday to replace the 9th District’s Rep. Susan Fagan, who resigned her seat following ethical violation allegations.

Mary Dye is sworn in Friday (picture from WA House GOP)

Mary Dye is sworn in Friday (picture from WA House GOP)

Washington State Republican Chairwoman Susan Hutchison said the party “acted quickly” to replace Fagan in one week, allowing Dye to participate in the special session.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler said Dye will represent the “interests and values” of the 9th District, a large rural district that encompasses the counties of Adams, Asotin, Franklin, Garfield and Whitman, as well as part of Spokane County.

County Commissioners from the six counties selected Dye from a field of three candidates to fill the position.

“Her knowledge and experience in agriculture and her family’s deep roots in Garfield County make her a natural leader on issues important to the 9th District,” Schoesler said in a statement.

 

Categories: Republicans, WA House

Special session update: Budget briefings, cap-and-trade proposal forthcoming

By | May 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

Budget writers met this week for two days of budget “briefings,” but have yet to resolve more than 1,000 differences between the budgets passed by the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican majority Senate, according to Democratic legislative leaders.

“Going through each section of the budget, going through where the differences are, where the decisions have to be made — that’s what is happening right now,” House Democratic Majority Leader Pat Sullivan told reporters on Thursday.

The Legislature began a 30-day special session on April 29 after adjourning regular session without a two-year operating budget in place.

House Speaker Frank Chopp said there remains “major differences” between the two budgets, highlighting a difference of $450 million more in the Democratic budget for K-12 basic education than the Republican approach.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Mark Schoesler said Democrats don’t have the money for the $450 million expenditure. “They can spend it, but they can’t pay for it,” he said at a Republican media availability.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle are pushing to get an early revenue forecast update to see if the state will collect more revenue.

Waiting for June 17, when the revenue forecast is scheduled to be released, is “just too late,” said Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island. (more…)

Rep. Susan Fagan to resign on Friday following ethical violation allegations

By | April 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rep. Susan Fagan, a Republican lawmaker from Pullman, will resign at the end of the day Friday following allegations of ethical violations that include filing fraudulent expense reports to collect several thousand dollars in taxpayer money.

Fagan delivered her resignation letter to Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday, according to the governor’s office.

Officials are investigating Fagan for five categories of misconduct: Claiming expenses for “fake or nonexistent events,” inflating mileage, listing the wrong location of events to qualify for travel payments, pressuring her aides to change expense reports and using state funds improperly for political campaigns.

“In sum, there are allegations of theft, fraud, and improper use of staff by the member to falsify expense reports in order to receive payments of state taxpayer money from the House to which the member was not otherwise entitled,” according to a letter of complaint to the Legislative Ethics Board written by House Chief Clerk Barbara Baker and released to the media on Wednesday.

Rep. Susan Fagan

Rep. Susan Fagan

Fagan said in a statement it is with a “sad heart” she is resigning her seat in the 9th District, which encompasses several rural districts in Southeast Washington. Fagan called it a “disappointing and painful to end my public career.”

“I should have been more precise with my records, and I did not give my reimbursement reports the respect and attention they deserve. That is my fault. At no point did I try to derive personal gain from expense reimbursements,” said Fagan.

Fagan made the decision to resign and pay the money back following a meeting with House Republican leadership.

“I am very disappointed with Rep. Fagan’s conduct,” said House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen. “Her misuse of state travel and reimbursement funds is a serious breach of public trust.”

Fagan has served in the district since 2010. Officials say the Legislative Ethics Board is continuing its investigation and further action will be determined by the board.

Categories: WA House

Special session begins, House passes recreational marijuana bill

By | April 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Legislature began its 30-day special session at noon on Wednesday, four days after lawmakers adjourned the regular legislative session without passing an operating budget.

The Democrat-controlled House and the Republican majority Senate remain at odds over whether the state needs new revenue as part of the operating budget that funds the state for the next two years and puts additional money into public schools.

Lawmakers are also expected to take up a transportation package and legislation related to school levy reform during the special session.

On Wednesday, the House began special session by passing several bills off the floor. Among them is House Bill 2136, which makes several changes to the state’s legal marijuana market and streamlines taxes.

Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, said the bill “updates and modernizes and reforms” a number of provisions in Initiative 502, the ballot measure that legalized marijuana.

City or county bans on pot stores would be subject to a public vote during the general election under the bill.

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, urged members to reject the proposal. “There are communities that voted no this when the initiative was before them, and they are still voting no today,” he said. “They do not want this to be part of our society.”

The bill passed 70 to 25. Carlyle said negotiations with the Senate are ongoing.

Washington’s regular legislative session ends; special session to begin April 29

By | April 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Legislature gaveled out of the 2015 regular session Friday – two days earlier than the 105-day regular session was scheduled to end, but still weeks or more away from a budget deal.

split2Late in the session, lawmakers said they’d need more time to reach an agreement on how to fund the state for the next two years. The Democrat-led House and GOP-controlled Senate are still far apart on the basics.

House leaders say more revenue is needed to fully fund education and more as the state faces Supreme Court sanctions after an unprecedented court ruling. But the Senate is sticking with a no-new taxes proposal.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced a 30-day special session beginning April 29. The two chambers will have to make some concessions to find an agreement, he said.

“It is time to compromise and for all of us to compromise,” he said during a press conference earlier in the week. “I understand I won’t be getting everything I proposed, and I have told lawmakers they each need to now starting moving towards each other’s position. The House is going to have to find a way to reduce spending and the Senate will have to add revenue.”

Both sides will also have to compromise on a $15 billion transportation plan. The House and Senate agree state projects should be funded with a nearly 12-cent gas tax increase, but they’re stuck on the details.

The special session can adjourn before the full 30 days if they reach a deal. If not, Inslee can announce another special session to give lawmakers more time.

Categories: WA House, WA Senate

Wednesday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | April 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

Watch highlights from Wednesday’s floor debate in the House and Senate on this 15-minute edition of “Legislative Review.” Plus, the public weighs in on the proposed $3.9 billion capital budget, which pays for construction projects around the state.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Cutoff deadline: What’s alive, what stalled

By | April 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Legislature is nearing the end of the 105-day legislative session, and this week marked one of the last major deadlines for lawmakers. Tuesday was the cutoff for fiscal bills to pass out of committee in the opposite chamber. Here are a few bill that stalled, and a few that are still alive after the deadline.

STALLED:

Distracted driving: A proposal to update the state’s distracted driving law for the first time since 2007 — before the iPhone was released — stalled in the House Transportation committee after passing in the Senate.

Senate Bill 5656 would have made it a crime to hold a phone while driving. Holding a phone to your ear and texting while driver have been banned since 2007, but it’s still legal to update your Facebook status, check your email and plan your route behind the wheel.

Payday loans: Washington payday lenders will continue operating under the state’s current rules after a bill to overhaul the state’s lending system missed Tuesday’s deadline.

Under current law, customers can borrow up to $700 from payday lenders, no more than eight times per year. The short-term loan comes with a $95 fee. Senate Bill 5899 would have allowed lenders to offer loans with longer terms and higher interest, but it never got a vote in the House General Government committee.

Minimum wage: A push to increase the statewide minimum wage to $12-an-hour stalled this session after the Republican chair of a committee refused to put the bill up for a vote.

House Bill 1355 would increase Washington’s minimum wage by more than $2.50 in four years. It passed in the House, but Senate Commerce and Labor committee chair Sen. Michael Baumgartner did not give the bill a vote in committee.

“I’m not going to put people out of work in eastern Washington just to placate the egos of some extreme liberals in Seattle,” Baumgartner said of his decision.

Washington has the nation’s highest minimum wage at $9.47.

Boeing tax breaks: The plan to tie Boeing’s tax breaks to the size of its Washington workforce never moved out of a House committee.

House Bill 2147 responds to a decline in Boeing jobs after the legislature in 2013 approved as much as $8.7 billion in tax incentives for the aerospace giant. It would have required Boeing to employ more than 83,000 workers for the full tax break and reduce or revoke the tax break if enough jobs are lost.

Smoking age: Washington’s legal smoking age appears it will stay the same after a proposal to raise the age requirement to 21 for tobacco and vapor products missed Tuesday’s deadline.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested the bill to require Washington residents to wait to buy cigarettes until age 21, the same requirement for alcohol and marijuana. Opponents said 18-year-olds are old enough to go to war, so they should be able to buy cigarettes, too.

ALIVE:

E-cigarettes and vaping: The state House is poised to vote on regulations for Washington’s growing e-cigarette and vapor industry after a bill was voted out of committee Tuesday.

House Bill 1645 requires licenses for vapor stores, prohibit sales to minors and requires child-proof packaging and warning labels. A 95 percent excise tax on all products was part of the original bill, but that proved hard to move past some lawmakers and was not part of the bill that moved out of committee. Vapor advocates said nearly doubling the price would force smokers to stick to traditional cigarettes.

The bill passed out of the House Appropriations committee and now moves to the floor for a vote.

Uber and Lyft: Ride-share companies could be required to provide $1 million liability insurance to their drivers, under a bill headed to the House floor, but only when a customer is in the car.

Senate Bill 5550 would have created an entire framework to regulate the companies, but that proved hard to move past other lawmakers. Now the measure focus on what sponsor say is most important right now – insurance.

The proposal cleared a House committee and moves on the floor. If it passes, it will have to head back to the Senate for approval.

Oil trains: As Washington prepares for more crude oil shipments, a bill to improve railway safety standards is advancing.

Senate Bill 5057 requires rail lines to come up with oil spill response plans, and increases the per-barrel oil taxes to help pay for cleanup. The measure passed out the House Appropriations committee on Tuesday.

Mental health: A bill to require more training for police officers on how to deal with the mentally ill is headed to the House floor.

Senate Bill 5311 would provide as many as 40 hours crisis intervention training to officers. It’s one of the ways lawmakers are responding to needs within the state’s mental health system.

The measure was voted out of House Appropriations on Tuesday.

Categories: WA House, WA Senate

Budget debate highlights on weekly ‘Legislative Review’ wrapup

By | April 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Watch highlights from the Senate and House floor debate over the budget on this 30-minute weekly edition of “Legislative Review.” Plus, highlights from several other bills debated in the Legislature.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m. The 30-minute weekly edition airs Friday evenings and throughout the weekend.

Categories: TVW, WA House, WA Senate
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Bills fall by the wayside after mid-session cutoff

By | March 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

While some bills made it through the halfway point, and will continue to be considered, other bills have fallen by the wayside.

Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters on Thursday that he was disappointed that a bill limiting vaccination exemptions did not make it to the House floor for a vote. He said the Department of Health will find “new, creative ways” to get information about vaccines to parents this year, and he hoped to see the bill return next year.

Doug Reuter, the father of the namesake of Joel’s Law, told AP that he was hoping to see lawmakers pass House Bill 1450, which would have expand the criteria for involuntary treatment.

House Republicans posted a list of bills the caucus was following. Dead bills listed in the House Republicans’ “good” category include House Bill 1446, which would have permitted certain restaurant employers to pay 16- and 17-year olds less than minimum wage; and House Bill 1741, which would have allowed disabled people to enter state land without a Discover Pass.

Senate Democrats also released a listed of dead bills that its caucus had backed. The list included Senate Bill 5752, regarding creating statements of impact on ethnic and racial minorities for bills affecting criminal justice, human services, and education, and Senate Bill 5527, which would have extended the deadlines for voter registration.

We also asked on Twitter what bills people wished made it through.