Sen. Jan Angel, D-Port Orchard, was one of several local (Kitsap
and Mason County) legislators who responded to my request for input
on the education budget for 2015. Specifically I asked for their
thoughts on the chances of a teacher’s COLA being reinstated and
other thoughts on teachers’ salaries. Perhaps due to crossed wires
on her part, mine or both, Angel’s response came late for
in my article, which ran today.
Note, Jan. 28: I have heard from Senator Angel that she did
send the response last week, so apparently there was a technical
glitch in the email on our end. My apologies, Jan.
Describe the pressures you will face as a legislator to
reinstate the COLA?
Budget challenges have forced the Legislature to delay or set
aside I-732 as we worked to pay for our priorities of government
and, when it comes to education, we had to pay for what is most
effective for student achievement first. This year with $3 billion
additional revenue in state coffers, we potentially have the
ability to pay for increased maintenance costs, the minimum
investment in schools required by McCleary and the teacher COLA
required by I-732. Of course, the specifics of the budget will go
through negotiations and restructuring, but as our revenue outlook
currently stands, we are likely to have enough money to provide the
teacher COLA this year, which I do support.
Describe the pressures you will face as a legislator to
suspend the COLA to pay for other education expenses.
We want to prioritize our education spending toward what will do
most to address our 77% graduation rate and our lacking student
achievement rates. I believe that providing a great teacher in
every classroom is very important for student success and making
sure we provide them competitive compensation is part of reaching
that goal. Our teachers are hard-working and dedicated to our
children and I want to make sure we do the best we can for them. As
the budget is scrutinized and negotiated, I hope we can reach a
solution that supports our teachers while meeting our obligations
on other budget demands.
What, in your opinion, are the chances the COLA will be
Based on our revenue outlook and initial reactions from
budget-writers, the chances are positive.
The governor’s office projects a $2 billion shortfall,
despite rising revenue. Randy Dorn at OSPI thinks, with the class
size initiative, the real cost could be at least $4.5 billion and
possibly closer to $7 billion for the 2015-2017 budget. Given the
projected budget shortfall, is it realistic for the Legislature to
discuss teacher/school employee compensation in the upcoming
The Governor assumes some cost increases that are not required
for the government to keep running, but I think the importance of
supporting teachers and the fact that we have a statutory
commitment suggests that we give it our most thoughtful
In your opinion, why is/isn’t compensation a compelling
issue at this time?
As mentioned before, the direct correlation between student
achievement and teacher compensation is not clear, so it is
difficult to prioritize when we are trying to reach higher student
success rates. Prioritizing a budget is difficult work, but I hope
we can address this with the tax dollars we’ve been given to work
with. I would also like to see additional training dollars
allocated. Our teachers have been asked to perform a number of new
duties without training provided to do so – – this creates
frustration and puts them in a difficult position.
If you support a compensation reset for school employees,
how should the Legislature pay for it?
This is a complicated budget issue that requires negotiation and
the prioritization of available funds. We are still in the process
of determining what is the best use of taxpayer dollars so we’ll
have to see how much we have to work with before we can begin the
strategy of putting these pieces together. Teachers receive several
different types of pay so this can be complicated.
Call it symbolic revenge for a real defection. One party
pulled two of the opposite party over to form a coalition. That was
true two years ago when Republicans lured Potlatch Democratic state
Sen. Tim Sheldon, along with Rodney Tom, to form a de fact majority
in the chamber, a majority that was boosted by the election of real
Republican Jan Angel.
Even after the Republican Party announced in early December
Sheldon’s return to the role, which would have put him in charge of
the chamber in the case of Lt. Gov. Brad Owen’s absence, Democrats
helped maneuver to get Sheldon out of the seat. They nominated
Republican Pam Roach. Republicans tried to counter by nominating
Democrat Karen Fraser. But Democrats, Fraser included, voted as a
bloc and along with Vancouver Republican state Sen. Don
Benton, elected Roach to the position.
The Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate described it
as Democrats settling a score with Sheldon, making “the most of an
opportunity to hold Tim Sheldon accountable for his treachery.”
Sheldon told Schrader he thought Democrats were retaliating and
that they will want something in return. Roach said they did not
ask for anything.
It’s a mostly symbolic victory and will do little to change the
agenda in the chamber. The first evidence of that was the Senate’s
vote to require a two-thirds vote to approve any tax increases, a
rules change in the chamber that passed with a 26-23 vote, exactly
the number of the Republican+1 majority.
The Sheldon upset went down officially within 12 minutes, which
is on the video that follows. Of course, it really took flight in
conversations for which there is no video, so this will have to
enough Supreme Court aversion to go around, even to the
state version of the highest court in the land.
Sometime before Christmas, among the multitudes of greeting
cards I received was the one you see here on the left. You probably
have to click on each image to see them clearly.
My favorite part is at the end of the inside part of the
card. “This card is
a parody and not actually from Chief Justice Roberts.” It’s a
good thing that disclaimer is there, because Roberts could sue and
eventually appeal the case all the way to himself.
The message of this card is that the U.S. Supreme Court is
secretive and accountable to no one. State lawmakers have a
different complaint about the state nine, and they
say partisanship is the answer.
The bill is unlikely to get a hearing, according to other news
reports and one local legislator. It sends a message,
nonetheless.House Bill 1051, sponsored by state
Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, and co-sponsored by 15 Republicans
and three Democrats, begins with this subtle epistle:
“The legislature finds that because the supreme
court has decided to act like the legislature and has
thus violated the separation of powers, the supreme court
should be considered partisan like the
Why the dig? Because the state Supreme Court has not only ruled
that the state is not meeting its paramount constitutional duty in
adequately funding education, the court has a bucket of solutions
it can choose from should the Legislature’s response to that
ruling be deemed inadequate.
Two local legislators, Democrat Sherry Appleton of Poulsbo and
Republican Jesse Young of Gig Harbor, are among the
Young did not respond to requests for comment. Appleton
responded to an email saying she believes the bill will not
even get a hearing. Asked why why she is backing it, she
replied that she isn’t. “It was just a message to make people aware
there are three branches of government, and we don’t make
constitutional rulings, and they should not tell us how to write
Asked what the court should be allowed to do in its role as
a check against the state government’s two other branches, Appleton
said the court’s job is to determine the constitutionality of
laws. “We have a job to do, and they are part of the solution,
but not doing the legislature’s business by telling us how to write
a budget. We know full well what we have to do, and we
will do it, in spite of the Supreme Court, not because of it.”
Among the solutions the court has discussed should the
Legislature fail to meet the court’s definition of “adequate”
education funding is one that would void the budget
completely, undoing all tax loopholes. It seems unlikely the court
would resort to that option first, but should it
employ anything there are legislators who believe it would be
out of its bounds.
Hugh Spitzer, a constitutional law professor at the
University of Washington, said any constitutional revenge by the
Legislature would require near unanimity of the lawmaking body,
which doesn’t seem likely. More within reach is
legislators stalling state law fixes requested by the courts.
Legislators have threatened the court financially in the past,
but that seems unlikely, too. Punishing the courts
financially “punishes the public if the public doesn’t have
access to the courts,” Spitzer said. Furthermore, in a pinch the
Supreme court could order funding from the state. It never has, but
Washington would not be the only state with partisan judges and
it wouldn’t be the first time the state had such a setup.
According to Judgepedia, seven states elect Supreme Court
justices in partisan elections. In two states the
justices are nominated in party primaries or conventions and other
states involve the parties in lower court assignments.
Spitzer said Washington judges were elected in partisan
elections until 1907. Partisanship came back came back a few years
later when Republicans were upset that a Democrat had been elected
in a non-partisan election. GOP legislators managed to put two more
seats on the bench, got two of their own elected and then made the
judge races non-partisan again.
Maybe this Legislature ought to consider doing that. If they did
it during presidential election years, when all our televisions are
affixed to Fox News and MSNBC, we might not notice. The
newspapers would cover it, but who reads those anymore?
All three of the Kitsap Caucus’ state senators will have
leadership roles in the 2015 Legislature. Two of them are repeats,
while Jan Angel takes on a new responsibility.
State Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, was elected Senate Majority
Coalition Caucus vice chairwoman and named to the panel that
selects committee leaders.
Angel, first elected to the Senate in 2013, was re-elected in
November and will begin a four-term in January.
The caucus position puts Angel in place to be a liaison between
coalition leadership and committee chairs and to lead caucus
deliberations when the chairwoman, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette,
R-Wenatchee, is not available. Angel also will be part of the
effort to hire and fire coalition staff.
“I’m excited to get to work building on the bipartisan success we
achieved as a caucus last year,” Angel said in a written statement
issued by the coalition. “I have all the right tools to be a leader
in this role with my previous experience leading committees and
developing employees as a small-business owner and I am very
grateful for the confidence of my Senate colleagues.”
The senator was also appointed to the Committee on Committees,
which helps select which coalition senator goes on which
State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, retains his role as Senate
president pro tem, even though Republicans have and outright
Sheldon, along with former state Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, began
caucusing with the 23 Republicans in 2013, giving the GOP a de
facto 25-24 majority known as the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus.
With the election of Angel later that year the coalition’s majority
rose to 26-23.
Tom retired from the Senate, but Republicans won the major
contested races and took actual control of the Senate 25-24.
Sheldon said all along he would continue to caucus with
Republicans, so the coalition remains intact. His reward is keeping
the leadership position.
“This recognition I have received from my colleagues is a
demonstration of the bipartisan ideals that have governed our
coalition since Day One,” Sheldon said in a statement. “We always
said our chief concerns were jobs, education and the budget, and
not partisan politics.”
State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, resumes her role
as floor leader for the Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus.
This is her second year in that job.
The floor leader is the party’s point person on parliamentary
procedure and in facilitating floor debate on the Senate floor.
“I am honored to have been selected again by my colleagues to serve
as their floor leader,” Rolfes said. “We are facing some
significant challenges in 2015, but I look forward to working
across the aisle to ensure things run smoothly.”
State Sen. Jan Angel,
R-Port Orchard, is getting heat from her opponent regarding Angel’s
involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council. This is
something we addressed in the
2013 election, but since this treads into matters of substance,
it’s worth revisiting.
ALEC is a nationwide organization that goes to great efforts to
get conservative policies enacted in state legislatures. Angel is a
conservative and has been affiliated with the organization for some
time. She has never really denied that, but when she wrote the
Facebook post you see pictured on the left here, she never let on
that Rick Perry, Texas governor and one-time candidate for
president who recalled two of the three agencies he planned to
eliminate, was speaking at an ALEC conference when she snapped his
picture and gushed, “what a champion!”
At its core the question that seems worth asking is whether
Angel or Arbogast better represent the values of the 26th District,
and Angel’s affiliation with ALEC could be evidence to support
whatever conclusion you make. Instead much of the debate centers on
whether legislators should be sponsoring what are called “model
bills.” A model bill is one written in one place and used either
verbatim or as a template in several states.
Some of ALEC’s model legislation would ban states from
prohibiting insurance companies from using credit scores to deny or
charge more for coverage, is tough on minimum wage standards, goes
after Obamacare and would limit how much a state could require
electric utilities to provide a certain percentage of its energy
from clean energy sources.
This issue arises from the following exchange that took place in
the Oct. 7 Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues forum
between Angel and Democrat Judy Arbogast.
Question: Can ALEC really write laws that
best serve a state as diverse as Washington, and if yes,
Arbogast: Absolutely not. ALEC provides
ready-made legislation for every state and that’s the biggest
problem. It’s also backed by big corporations, not the people who
are trying to actually solve the problems. People who know me know
that I’ve been very opposed to ALEC since I first heard about it. I
certainly know that it’s not good for the people. That’s why any
bills that I propose will come from the people themselves, They
will not be premade as some of the bills have been presented by my
Angel: Your opponent has never offered an ALEC
bill that I’m aware of, (And at this point you can hear people
laughing at the statement) the only ALEC bill, seriously, the only
ALEC bill that’s come to the Legislature actually came through your
governor, Gov. Inslee, And I want to talk, I’m so glad this
question came up, because ALEC stands for the American Legislative
Exchange Council. I belong to that. The mission statement is free
market and individual liberties. I am proud to stand for that. I
make no apology and I actually question anyone that would question
those values. As far as model legislation, we sit on task force,
which I am proud to sit on Economic Development, Commerce and
Insurance. That task force works on issues nationally. The last
task force meeting I attended we worked on national catastrophes
like the slide that we just had, how did that affect everybody ’s
insurance premiums. Now if a model bill is written it is up to the
legislature whether they take it back to their state. And if the
state House and Senate pass it and the governor signs it, maybe
it’s a good bill.
We’ll dissect those arguments later, but following the debate
and after my story was written, Samara Ressler, campaign manager
for Arbogast, sent me an email titled “Forum Clarification.” She
then provided a list of three bills Angel co-sponsored Ressler said
come from ALEC model bills. They are Senate Bills 6300 and 6307
during the 2014 session and House Bill 1804 in 2011.
SB 6300 would have required more unions to increase financial
reporting requirements and does seem to have much the same language
as ALEC’s model legislation, “Union Financial Responsibility Act.”
SB 6307 prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting minimum wage
requirements higher than the state’s. It is much the same as ALEC’s
“Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act.”
The House Bill 1804 in 2011 would have prevented the state from
spending any money to implement Obamacare. At the time the
justification was the health care reform measure was still making
its way through constitutional challenges. Supporters said they
didn’t want to burden the state with efforts for a program that
could become moot. I don’t see ALEC’s direct fingerprint on this
bill, but it’s old enough that it might have just disappeared from
the organization’s website. And ALEC wrote a lot of legislation aimed at weakening health care
reform, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility
this started with ALEC.
This gets to the core issue. Whether the bill was an ALEC model
or not, it would have limited the impact of federal health care
reform efforts. What is the more important factor to you?
When we addressed this similar question in 2013, we pointed out
that lots of organizations write model bills. ALEC might do it the
most, but several organizations do it. Legislators don’t write many
of the bills they propose. They are written by lobbyists, lawyers
and others who have an interest. And I’m willing to bet that when
legislators do write their own bills, they get lots of help.
This is not to say that finding out whether a bill is a model
bill is unimportant. An organization like ALEC has a specific
mission and won’t typically write legislation that doesn’t forward
So let’s break down the forum comments.
Arbogast: ALEC provides ready-made
legislation for every state and that’s the biggest
“Model” legislation is a “problem” in the sense that it could be
trying to solve a problem no one was aware anyone had. Beyond that,
though, you have to give the Legislature enough credit that it will
tackle issues it deems important. If a model bill, tweaked to
reflect what’s needed in legislative language in Washington,
addresses an issue enough legislators think is worthy of attention,
the bill can make it to the governor’s desk.
Arbogast: People who know me know that I’ve
been very opposed to ALEC since I first heard about it. I certainly
know that it’s not good for the people.
This is the values statement that would seem to be the more
Arbogast: That’s why any bills that I
propose will come from the people themselves, They will not be
premade as some of the bills have been presented by my
opponent. Angel: Your opponent has never offered an ALEC
bill that I’m aware of.
If Arbogast wins I suspect some on the right will watch the
bills she sponsors to see if there’s anything else out there that’s
similar to trace a bill at its roots. It might be a model bill from
an organization on the left.
Angel’s claim that she never offered an ALEC bill rests on whether
you think “offered” means she was the prime sponsor. We showed that
she co-sponsored bills using ALEC bills as models, but she has not
Angel: The only ALEC bill that’s come to
the Legislature actually came through your governor, Gov.
We did address that claim last year and there is some dispute.
The governor’s office said its bill dealing with one aspect of
climate change did not come from an ALEC model, but a spokesman for
the Washington Policy Center said that it did. Angel is off in
saying the “only ALEC bill” unless what she meant by “come through
to the Legislature” was “passed the Legislature.” Otherwise, her
co-sponsorship of two ALEC-based bills seems to negate her
Angel: ALEC stands for the American
Legislative Exchange Council. I belong to that. The mission
statement is free market and individual liberties. I am proud to
stand for that. I make no apology and I actually question anyone
that would question those values.
When Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Bershire Hathaway Energy,
Intel, Bank of America, etc. decided to stop participating with
ALEC I doubt any of them were troubled with the concept of free
markets or individual liberties. Google’s Eric Schmidt was
especially harsh answering a question from a
caller to the Diane Rehm show:
Kristen: I’m curious to know if Google is
still supporting ALEC, which is that fund lobbyist in D.C. that are
funding climate change deniers. Schmidt: We funded them as part of a political
game for something unrelated. I think the consensus within the
company was that that was sort of a mistake. And so we’re trying to
not do that in the future. Rehm: And how did you get involved with them
in the first place? And were you then disappointed in what you
saw? Schmidt: Well, the company has a very strong
view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts. What
a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question
anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring. And the
people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our
grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we
should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally
I’m guessing Angel would differ with Schmidt on that.
State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and his Republican
challenger, Michelle Caldier of Port Orchard, engaged in two robust
debates last week on the issues. One of the debates was in
Bremerton on Tuesday. The other was in Gig Harbor on Thursday. They
have at least three more forums scheduled before the election.
Before that they sat in the same room for an Aug. 29 meeting
with the Kitsap Sun editorial board. In all those meetings they
focused on issues one of them will try to tackle as a legislator in
Olympia in 2015.
An incident after the editorial board meeting launched a side
show that has picked up steam. Caldier said Seaquist is trying to
intimidate her. Seaquist said Caldier’s allegations are false and
that he is consulting with an attorney. Both say they want the
escalation to stop.
For the Kitsap Sun meeting both candidates had driven their
cars, with Caldier parking directly in front of Seaquist. After the
meeting they separated to their cars and Seaquist took at least a
couple of photos. Caldier said he did it as she was getting into
her car. He said that is not true, that she was in the car when he
snapped the shots.
Seaquist said he was checking messages on his phone when he saw
the the trunk open on Caldier’s car and the hard top slide into the
trunk. He said he hadn’t seen a hard-top convertible in some time
and wanted to snap a quick photo to discuss the car with someone he
knows. The model of the car was prominent on the car’s tail section
and he said he knew he would never remember it. So he took a
Caldier confronted him about the photo and both agree he
acknowledged snapping a picture. Her recollection of the
conversation afterward was a little fuzzy this week, but he said
she complained that she had been photographed at her house. He said
he told her it wasn’t anyone doing it on his behalf.
On Sept. 2, four days later, Caldier posted a Facebook entry
reading: “I came out of a candidate interview and saw Rep. Larry
Seaquest, my opponent, taking pictures of me as I got into my car.
Wow…. I felt like I was being stalked!” Some of her Facebook
friends described that as “creepy” or “gross,” and some suggested
it was an act of desperation.
On Sept. 5, three days after the Facebook post and a week after
Seaquist took the photo, she filed a report with the Bremerton
Police Department. The report includes a couple of statements
Caldier said do not reflect what she told police. The report said
Caldier told police Seaquist had taken other photos of Caldier in
the past and that he just laughed at her when she asked him why he
was snapping more pictures. On Friday she said she told police
other people had snapped pictures, that Aug. 29 was the first time
Seaquist himself had done it. Also, she said Seaquist did talk to
her about the photos when she confronted him.
Both candidates question the other’s motives in the incident.
Caldier said she doesn’t believe his story that he was impressed
with the car because she believes he has seen it before. She said
it’s another chapter in a long history of the opposition trying to
intimidate her. Seaquist said he hadn’t seen her car before and
that he did nothing wrong, that his sole interest was the car and
that Caldier is falsifying what happened to turn it into a campaign
Candidates can expect to have their photos taken in odd places,
to be followed. One of the comments on Caldier’s Facebook post came
from state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, who wrote: “They pulled
that on me all last run. I was followed frequently and many other
weird things. What a journey.”
Keith Schipper, Angel’s communications director in the 2013
campaign, said he was tasked by the state Republican party to track
Angel’s opponent, Nathan Schlicher, for part of that campaign. A
tracker’s job is primarily to go to all the opponent’s events
possible and to film, seeing if a candidate can be caught saying
one thing to one group and something else to another. Or, if the
tracking yields real gold, the candidate has a “Macaca” moment, a
reference to the 2006 Virginia Senate race when Republican
incumbent Sen. George Allen referred to a Democratic operative as
“Macaca,” which he said was gibberish, but Democrats said was an
intentional racial slur. Allen lost the election.
Schipper, who also tracked Jay Inslee in 2012 when he ran for
governor and is working on Republican legislative campaigns again
this year, said officials from the candidate and the party are
mostly polite to the opposition tracker. It’s the people hosting
the events who can get hostile. So parties’ and candidates’
campaigns in larger races typically know better than to hassle the
The 2013 26th District Senate race was unique, though, in how
high profile it was for a legislative race. That each side employed
trackers was because it was so high stakes. It was the most
expensive legislative race in state history. It was the only
Republican-Democrat race in the state and affected the balance of
power in Olympia. Both candidates said they were followed.
That race was a legislative exception. The Seaquist-Caldier
race, while close, is unlikely to draw so much attention that the
state party would employ operatives. And even if the state party
did, taking pictures at a candidate’s house is unlikely.
Nonetheless, Caldier said that when she was living in a home she
rented before she bought her current home she saw people taking
pictures of her at her house. She said some were also taking
pictures of her sister. And one day a neighbor caught people going
through her mail. Since Caldier recently returned to Kitsap County
after years living in Kenmore, it’s possible someone supporting
Seaquist was trying to investigate whether she deserved a residency
You might remember the private investigation that went into
former County Commissioner Josh Brown’s residency during his first
run. When Lary Coppola ran for mayor he found matches stuck in his
door, presumably a tactic to see whether he lived where he claimed
If the Caldier mail incident was campaign related, Schipper and
Fred Finn, who represented the 35th Legislative District as a
Democrat for four years, said it was unlikely it was ordered by the
party or Seaquist’s campaign. Schipper likened it to supporters who
go out and vandalize campaign signs, adding it would more likely be
a supporter going rogue. Finn agreed. “Sometimes supporters have
more energy and enthusiasm than common sense,” Finn said. “I can’t
imagine it’s anything organized.”
Whatever motive Seaquist had in taking the picture, it is
unusual for a candidate to be taking a photo of another candidate.
“You don’t ever see candidates doing that to each other,” Schipper
said. “You don’t see their staff members doing it.”
Caldier again looked at the incident in context of the whole
campaign. “I’ll take a lot, but this one was kind of the last
straw. This is moving forward to November and it feels like the
behavior is escalating,” she said. “I want the behavior to stop. I
would never take pictures of him without asking his permission. For
him to be sitting in his car taking photos of me without asking my
permission is wrong.”
Seaquist makes no apologies and said he has no interest in
meeting with Caldier to resolve the issue. “Everything here has
been created and invented by Dr. Caldier. Nothing here was started
by me,” he said. “This is not a misunderstanding on my part. This
is entirely a creation of hers. I have done nothing
Particularly galling to Seaquist was another single assertion in
the police report. Caldier, when told Seaquist had not committed
any crime, said his action concerned her because “she has been told
that Seaquist had been violent in the past with people.”
On Friday Caldier said that comment referred to what she heard
from Marlyn Jensen, a Gig Harbor Republican who ran against
Seaquist in 2008. Jensen, also contacted Friday, said her
relationship with Seaquist was fine during the 2008 campaign, but
repeated a charge she made in newspapers in 2009, that when she
went to Olympia to lobby on a couple of issues he yelled at her in
his office. She was lobbying on a property rights issue and neither
he nor his legislative assistant were there when she went by, so
she and others left bags of dirt from their properties with a
handwritten note urging Seaquist to vote for property owners.
A few days later Jensen returned to Olympia to lobby on another
issue and said she went back to his office and was told by his
receptionist to go in. She said Seaquist berated her for leaving
the dirt. On Friday she repeated what she said five years ago, that
she feared for her safety.
In 2009 Seaquist denied he did anything to make her fear for her
safety. He said he can be firm, but invited anyone to call any
legislator or member of a Navy crew he was ever affiliated with and
that they will confirm that he is “famous for being calm and cool
Caldier said she filed the police report to end the escalation
of intimidation. Seaquist doesn’t believe that, because the final
statement in the report is, “Caldier does not want Seaquist
contacted.” He said he thinks that’s evidence she plans to use the
police report to escalate her own personal campaign against
Seaquist said he is “prepared to launch a lawsuit. The very
essence of my character is being challenged.”
At their core you have two candidates who have fundamentally
different ideas about how state government should operate. That
might be the focus of the remaining campaign.
In 2013, during the most expensive legislative race in history
the campaign became particularly nasty. Angel accused Schlicher of
taking the low road with his ad that said she would cut mammograms.
Schlicher took exception to campaigns targeting him for voting for
budgets he said she voted for, too.
Schlicher’s backers put out ads saying Angel supported tax
breaks first for A. deceased millionaires and B. big oil companies
over education for kids. Angel’s supporters advertised that
Schlicher was against early reading intervention for children
because a contributor didn’t like it and that he opposed a 2/3
majority for tax increases.
All of those arguments mischaracterized the opponents’
positions, but anyone willing to make a concerted study at least
could look at those claims and make a calculation as to where the
candidate stood on issues that would face the Legislature. A
resident of the 26th might not have appreciated the inundation of
advertising that blanketed the district, but do you think that same
resident might not prefer that to what we’re seeing in the 26th
Legislative District Position 2 race this year?
Someone who didn’t want to be named said to me within the past
few days that Tim Sheldon and Travis Couture should be considered
the front-runners in the 35th Legislative District Senate primary
race. Someone else said that Tim Sheldon might come in third, that
Irene Bowling is the odds on favorite to come in first. Others
wonder if there is any way Sheldon could come in third. There
We’ve addressed this question before, but it merits
repetition, especially in light of the fact that some are speculating that U.S. Sen. Bernie
Sanders, an independent from Vermont who describes himself as a
Democratic Socialist, or democratic socialist, is pondering whether
to run for president in 2016. Should he run it could spell November
doom for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or whoever gets
the Democratic nomination. I don’t seem him winning as an
independent, but I know enough people who appreciate him for his
candor. And sometimes candor like that resonates enough with voters
that they shed their traditional patterns and make an exception in
You know what else makes me think Sanders plans to run? I just
received an emailed newsletter from him, the first time that has
Chances are Sanders would be a spoiler for someone else. To see
how that works, consider the presidential election of 2000. I’m the
first to say that the primary responsibility for Al Gore’s loss
that year was Al Gore himself. He disappointed voters in nearly
every opportunity he could. But Ralph Nader’s Green Party
candidacy was a factor among many. Gore lost by less than 600 votes
in Florida, where Nader received more than 97,000. New Hampshire
also went for Nader in big enough numbers that it’s conceivable
Gore could have won that state’s four electoral college votes had
Nader not run. Tough to say. But this provides the definition of a
spoiler, someone who doesn’t have much chance to win, but can spoil
it for someone else.
Technically, there can be no spoilers in the 35th District
primary. It would take four candidates for that. If the
fourth-place candidate takes enough votes to cause another
candidate to come in third instead of second, that’s a true
spoiler. With only three candidates in this primary, the loser
in this case just loses without damaging anyone else.
Here are some reasons to consider, though, that someone could in
effect fit the spiritual definition of spoiler.
Democrat Tim Sheldon has a long history in Olympia and has added
to it as a Mason County commissioner. In 2006 Sheldon received 72.3
percent of the vote in the general election. In 2010 his numbers
were down, getting about 62 percent in the primary and general
election while running against someone who barely campaigned. That
was a down year for Democrats, even for those who often side with
Republicans. That’s a tough hurdle to beat, making Bowling and
Couture underdogs by default.
Democrats came relatively close to unseating Sheldon
in 2006, but it was in the primary. That’s one key.
That year, 2006, was when Washington voters had to pick a party
to vote in during the primary election. That meant Republicans who
wanted Sheldon to return to Olympia had to select a Democratic
ballot and pick him. The Republican, Mark Shattuck, came in third,
but advanced, because thems was the rules. With that, Sheldon
received 43.1 percent of the vote to Kyle Taylor Lucas’ 32.5
percent. This year there is no such burden. Sheldon only has to
come in second to advance. It’s possible that perception of an
easier path could make some of Sheldon’s traditional supporters
more relaxed about voting.
Meanwhile, it’s the more passionate voters who take part in
primaries. Bowling will certainly get all the support Lucas did,
and probably more. Traditional Democrats who pay attention
will vote for her. Lucas carried some baggage for being perceived
as a carpetbagger, and some people were incensed that Sheldon had
to run against anyone. Now that Sheldon has caucused with
Republicans for two years, some of those who were outraged in 2006
are not so surprised.
Speaking of passion, Couture describes himself on his website as
a “conservative libertarian.” Have you ever seen Ron Paul
supporters at a convention? There’s your passion. So while Sheldon
has some cred with conservatives, it is not out of this world to
think that Couture’s following will represent well in August.
Shattuck received 24 percent of the vote in the 2006 primary back
when A. It was a pick-a-party primary, and B. Ron Paul had not yet
risen to national relevance and C. Sheldon didn’t have the
negatives he has now.
Those negatives include his decision to caucus with
Republicans and a couple of local issues. I didn’t hear much local
fallout from anyone about Sheldon’s decision to caucus in the
Senate with Republicans, other than the complaints from those who
would never vote for him anyway. There might be a fair contingent
out there, though, who were rubbed the wrong way by Sheldon’s
decision, people who didn’t yell and scream about it but are moved
to believe that the maverick might have gone too far off the ranch
for their tastes. They could either vote for someone else, or not
vote at all.
The local issues are ones that arise more out of
Sheldon’s service as a county commissioner. New Belfair sewer
customers don’t like the price they’re paying for service they’re
getting in large part because of Sheldon’s insistence. And just
last week Sheldon and a fellow commissioner enacted a six-month
moratorium on marijuana grow operations. I’m not sure how much
angst that is going to inspire, but there is potential.
In 2012 voters in the 35th District picked Democrat Barack Obama
for president and Republican Rob McKenna for governor. They split
on state House representatives, backed Democrat Derek Kilmer, voted
against gay marriage and for legal marijuana. On statewide issues
voters in the 35th come in consistently a few points more
conservative than the state as a whole. They’re not afraid to elect
traditional Democrats, though, and have sent Kathy Haigh to Olympia
in the House year after year. It’s a tough district to
Sheldon likes to appeal to people who don’t make political
parties their number one priority. That plays better in a
general election, when turnout is high, than it does in a primary,
which appeals to more committed voters. Should Bowling and Couture
finish 1-2 or 2-1, then one of them, the second place finisher in
November, could be seen as the spoiler. The other one will go to
Olympia. Should Sheldon come in first or second in the
primary, the spoiler factor goes away and we focus on
favorites and underdogs.
This election, like any other, could see its fill of well-timed
surprises. We tried to avoid one recently and might have prevented
it all together. In the end it might never have happened,
because there doesn’t seem to be much reason to launch a residency
challenge of Republican Michelle Caldier.
Caldier is running to unseat state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig
Harbor, in the 26th District.
Looking into candidates is something we should do as a matter of
course, but we don’t find everything. We check court records,
including the bankruptcy courts. We don’t hire private
investigators. A candidate’s opposition sometimes does. They’re
free to spend the money.
Part of my motivation goes back to 2004. Sherry Appleton, who
has represented the 23rd District since then, was running against
two Republicans, back when Washington primaries meant picking one
candidate from each party. Frank Mahaffay beat Paulette DeGard
for the Republican spot on the ballot. It was in October that I
learned of Mahaffay’s court-verified financial issues. Because
it was so late in the election season Scott Ware, then the editor,
and I debated whether to include the problem in the election
profile. In the end we decided we couldn’t leave it out. Appleton
won by a large margin, so I don’t think that one piece of
information ruined it for the Mahaffay, but I wished I had found it
before the primary.
I learned of Mahaffay’s financial issue through a tip.
Since then I have found some things ahead of the partisan tipsters,
one candidate’s two bankruptcies, for example. Still, political
parties are working hard to find any indiscretion they can. No
doubt we will get emails from people doing opposition research. It
was an email from an oppo researcher that informed me of auditor
candidate Kelly Emerson’s recent employment as
commissioner in Island County. I don’t mind investigating the stuff
sent to me by the studious partisan operatives, but the more we
rely on them the bigger the chance that they will sit on an issue
waiting for the most opportunistic timing to lob a bomb.
With Michelle Caldier I did wait a while to see if someone would
publicly ask the question how a Kenmore dentist came to seek
election in a district that is miles from either of the 26th
District’s book-end bridges. I gave the operatives some time to
speak up. After all, the primary between Seaquist and Caldier will
be little more than a straw poll. There are other races with more
on the line in August. Eventually, though, I gave in to my
Using basic Internet skills I found two addresses for Caldier,
one in Kenmore and another in Port Orchard. Searching county
records the Kenmore property was still listed in her name. The Port
Orchard property was not. Moreover the Kenmore property had four
bedrooms while the Port Orchard place had one. I then contacted the
Kitsap County Elections office to find out when she had registered
to vote here. It was in November. I then found evidence that
she had sold her home in Kenmore in May. Pictures of the home on a
real estate listing looked to me that the house had been staged to
present well for potential buyers, that it was unlikely someone had
been living there too recently.
That was the information I had when I called Caldier and
asked when she moved here. She responded that she would like to
meet with me in person. I was a bit frustrated that she wouldn’t
just deliver an immediate answer, but after asking again and
getting the same response, I agreed. She came in the next morning
with Chris Tibbs, Kitsap County Republican Party chairman. He took
the blame for her reluctance to speak on the phone, saying he had
coached the candidates, the first-time candidates anyway, to
request a sit-down meeting.
The meeting itself was valuable and in the end I see no evidence
of a residency issue. I’ll provide more details about her
story later. She’s providing them, too. In short, she was
motivated in large part to consider running by work she did on
legislation in 2013. She grew up in Kitsap County, said she always
considered it home, but established her dental practice to have
enough business to serve the market she sought. For family reasons
she and her sisters have moved back here. Her dental practice is a
mobile one, stretching from Pierce to Skagit County. What’s
more, in May she took ownership of a house in Port Orchard
after renting a home or staying with family here since sometime
The question over Caldier’s residency was an easy one to form.
It came up for me from the moment she announced her candidacy.
Seaquist, for his part, said he hadn’t been too concerned
over it. But that doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t make an issue
of the residency based just on the question,
planting doubts late in the game.
If you have a question about any candidate, feel free to email
me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we might look into the issue that
makes you wonder. And do it as soon as you think about it. With
Washington’s three-week election window from when ballots go out
and when they get returned it’s even more important to avoid
October surprises. Let’s keep peace at hand, if you know what I
This is the audio from Tim Eyman’s speech to the Central Kitsap
Republican Women, who met for their luncheon at the Admiral Theatre
in Bremerton on May 8, 2014.
One final note: This is something we might consider doing more
of in the future. That might mean posting audio from events like
this, but I also could see us recording interviews and doing other
kinds of storytelling on a regular podcast.
I’m a fan of the podcast medium itself, but I don’t know how
much demand there is for a hyperlocal podcast. Let me know and if
there is enough interest I will do my best to make this a regular
thing. Comment here, or email me at email@example.com.
Ed Friedrich’s story on the bill that prolonged
a real estate transaction fee to pay for housing for the homeless
gives a good synopsis of what went down. We’ve paid a lot of
attention to this bill in some part because of state Sen. Jan
Angel’s role in stopping it from going to the floor from her
Hours before the session ended Angel was able to introduce the
final version of the bill that keeps the funding going, but also
addresses some problems Angel and others had with the overall
One of Angel’s objections when the bill was in committee was
that this fee is only charged in real estate transactions. While
individuals who buy homes, change titles, etc. are the ones paying
the fee, Angel suggested it unfair that the real estate industry
was the only being asked to shoulder the burden. She has also made
the case that the real estate market is cyclical, so funding for
the program is subject to the market’s whims.
The final bill passed by the Legislature does not change any of
that, but it puts in place the possibility that the state could
find a different funding source to either supplement or replace the
current fee. Following a performance audit of the program the state
will convene a task force that will report on other funding
possibilities by the end of 2017. Legislators would then have two
years to come up with something different before facing another
deadline worse than the one they just faced. Missing this deadline
would have seen the fee drop and then go away. Missing the 2019
deadline set by the new legislation means the fee just goes
Department of Commerce statistics conclude the program has
dropped homelessness in the state by 29 percent overall. For
families the number is 74 percent. For individuals it’s 5
In Kitsap County the drop in homelessness appears to be well
above the 50 percent target, but that assumes I’m reading the state
Department of Commerce report correctly. I’ll check on Monday. In
Mason County it looks like homelessness has actually gone up.
The bill also stipulates that at least 45 percent of the funding
wind up in the hands of for-profit landlords. Again, assuming I’m
reading the Commerce report correctly, I don’t see where that has
been a problem anywhere. In Kitsap County $648,478 went to
for-profit landlords in 2012. Another $177,529 went to what the
state defines as “public” landlords. Nothing went to non-profits.
In Mason County $112,379 went to for-profits, and that was all of
In the end eight senators and 22 representatives voted against
the program, all of them Republicans. All nine of Kitsap’s
legislators voted for it.
Below you can watch the conversation on the Senate floor, a
discussion led off by Angel.
The bill to continue charging
the $40 fee on real estate transactions to fund programs for the
homeless has a good shot of being passed. State Sen. Christine
Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, said a Republican version would have
extended the program for one year and required that 45 percent of
the money go to private, for-profit landlords. Democrats are dead
set against setting a fixed number on the private landlord question
and want five years on the extension.
So the two sides are still talking.
If the session does get extended, Rolfes said, it will only be
to be in compliance with 24-hour requirements on bills.
Nonetheless, if there is a short special session, that’s when
the recording fee bill would likely be voted on, so that it can be
part of the budget negotiations, Rolfes said.
Another source, Joaquin Uy from the Washington Low Income
Housing Alliance emailed confirming the private landlord issue and
the sunsets as key issues. He also said the two sides are debating
reporting and auditing requirements.
Rolfes said Republicans have committed to passing a bill this
State Sen. Jan Angel, the Republican elected to finish the final
year of a four-year term, pulled a parliamentary move she is
allowed to in her role as committee co-chair, prompting at least
one howl from within her own party and a failed Democratic
countermove in the main chamber.
At issue is a bill, House Bill 2368, that helps
counties and the state fund programs for the homeless. Counties
charge a $40 fee on real estate transactions and apply it toward
state and county efforts to assist with rental housing payments,
grants for transitional housing, emergency assistance, overnight
shelters for young people, emergency shelters, and to help human
trafficking victims and their families. Under the legislation
originally passed in 2005 the fee was set to go down to $30 next
year, and then to $10. This year’s bill would essentially make the
$40 fee permanent.
Supporters of the bill argued that attaching the fee to
documents related to real estate was appropriate, because reducing
homelessness helps protect property values, keeps people out of
jail and out of emergency rooms. Opponents contend that real estate
fees are not an appropriate way to fund efforts to reduce
homelessness and that the law was supposed to be temporary when it
was written in 2005.
The bill was among those expected to be heard in a Senate
Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee hearing,
but Angel gaveled the meeting before the bill could be discussed.
Once the gavel is hit, TVW stops recording video, but there
was audio, (Start at 1:03:45)
and the first voice complaining about the meeting’s quick
conclusion is Republican Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver, who is
hardly liberal lion. Benton, in fact, working with a Democrat from
the House, had helped create the compromise bill the committee was
supposed to consider. Benton asks about 2368 and Angel says, “The
meeting is now adjourned.” Benton expresses disappointment. State
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, who co-chairs the committee said
the bill was a bipartisan/bicameral piece of legislation everyone
had agreed to, to which Angel said all parties are not in
agreement. “We’ll continue to work on this during interim,” she
said, to create a bill that works.
Hobbs told the (Tacoma) News Tribune that
Angel was operating with orders from Senate Majority Coalition
Caucus Leader Rodney Tom. Angel denied it, saying even if he had
issued orders, “I work for the people of my district.”
On Friday Senate Democrats issued a statement that included
comment from another Kitsap senator. “In my district, and in
districts across the state, this is the most important source of
funding we have to help the homeless,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes,
D-Bainbridge Island. “People are playing politics with an issue
that should be supported by everyone. There shouldn’t even be a
The bill was an amended version that had passed out of the House
with a 62-36 vote. All six Kitsap legislators in the House voted
for the bill.
Democrats tried to pull a procedural move to get the bill heard
on the main floor, but the majority caucus, including Benton, held
firm in denying them. The News Tribune said the bill could be part
of last-minute dealmaking before the session ends March 13.
If you’re watching the state political landscape and in
particular the 35th Legislative District, you might have long ago
stopped looking at the Senate race to focus on the campaigns being
waged by two Republicans for the opportunity to unseat a Democratic
You might be assuming that Tim Sheldon will again open an
unlocked door to another term as a state Senator. The primary,
though, could be interesting. And Sheldon has made some critics out
of people who once were his backers, primarily people in Belfair,
because of his work as a county commissioner.
Sheldon, as most of you know, is a Democrat, albeit (How should
we put this?) an atypical one. For years his votes on most
controversial issues have been aligned with the Republicans. The
Democrats enjoyed their majority status in the chamber with his
insistence on remaining a Democrat and have been safe from his
maverick ways as long as the margin never got close. Once Democrats
outnumbered Republicans by just three in the Senate, though, the
GOP leadership was able to poach away control by nabbing Sheldon
and Rodney Tom, the Democrat who once was Republican and is now the
figurehead for the Senate Majority Coalition.
In Mason County, which is the bulk of the 35th, Sheldon has held
strong. In 2010 he received 57 percent of the vote against Nancy
(grandma) Williams, though that big margin might be deceiving,
because she didn’t wage much of a campaign.
The election of 2006 might be a more telling picture. That year,
one in which voters had to pick a party, Sheldon only received 43.1
percent in the primary against two challengers. One was a Democrat
from the Howard Dean wing. The other was a Republican. In fact, the
Democrat, Kyle Taylor Lucas, accused by many of moving into the
district just to run against Sheldon, came in second place, netting
32.5 percent of the primary vote. Had she run in 2010 or this year
and seen the same result, she would have been on the General
Election ballot because of the state’s Top Two primary system.
So far Sheldon faces two opponents in the primary this year.
Travis Couture, the Republican, describes himself on his
website as “a conservative libertarian.” His arguments
espousing that philosophy is clear on the website, and he delivers
a message that might well resonate with the 35th District’s more
conservative voters. So might his Facebook criticism of Sheldon,
“Next time you see an illegal immigrant going to college on your
taxpayer dime, just thank Tim Sheldon for voting to pass that this
year in the Senate.”
The Democrats have Irene Bowling so far. She has run a music
instruction business in Kitsap County and has been well known
locally. During the selection process for the county commissioner
position left open by Josh Brown, Bowling proved herself a
competent candidate. She answered questions well and swayed enough
precinct committee officers to make her the second choice as
Brown’s successor. I have little doubt that the vast majority of
people who voted for Taylor Lucas in 2006 will side with Bowling
this time around in the primary. If she gets more than the 32.5
percent Taylor Lucas got, she could even emerge as the 35th
District’s first choice out of the primary.
If that were to pan out, then the question becomes whether
Couture can cut enough into Sheldon’s lead to do the unthinkable,
putting Sheldon into third place.
One of Couture’s challenges could be raising money for the race,
at least from the state party. Party organizations get to donate in
big amounts. Sheldon isn’t going to get money from either party,
but he already has almost $80,000. Sheldon has in the past, though,
prevented Republican candidates from getting GOP party money to run
against him, or so I’m told. It’s as if every dollar he gets has a
huge multiplier effect. It’s early in the game, but that could be
tough for Couture. If he as a first-time candidate proves
especially adept at raising money and getting signs on voters’
lawns, he could make it interesting. Where Couture might make his
biggest splash is on social media, which doesn’t cost a lot and can
have a big connector factor.
If there is enough anti-Sheldon sentiment out there then this
race could be highly entertaining. In the 2012 Mason County
Commissioner primary race Sheldon received 29.4 percent of the vote
as an incumbent, a half point ahead of the second-place candidate,
Democrat Roslynne Reed. Sheldon won by 8 percentage points in the
general election, but those 2012 numbers demonstrate he is not
invincible. He does not enjoy the kind of support Norm Dicks had in
the Sixth Congressional District.
If you were betting money on the 35th District race, I still
wouldn’t dissuade you from betting on Sheldon. But you might look
at 2012 and have reason to question your certainty. If he makes it
to the general election I don’t see him losing that one. The best
chance to unseat him is likely the primary. Bowling, assuming she
is the only Democrat who runs, will get the votes from those
leaning left. The question will be how the conservative votes will
split, whether Couture can effectively make the case that he is
more their representative than the incumbent.
A bill that would link elementary school science teacher pay to
what Washington legislators earn got a Tweet from the News
Tribune’s Jordan Schrader and a short mention in Crosscut,
but nothing more. Why? One reason is because there is no way the
bill will pass, and the bill’s author acknowledges as much.
State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, introduced House Bill 2655, “Setting the
salaries for members of the legislature,” on Jan. 23. The bill
would require the Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected
Officials to set legislator pay at the same level as the “average
elementary school science teacher.”
Right away, there is one problem with the language of the bill.
Technically there is no such thing as an “elementary school science
teacher.” Patty Glaser, Bremerton School District spokeswoman, said
elementary school teachers certify as generalists. There is another
issue that Central Kitsap School District spokesman David Beil
pointed out, that because of declining enrollment the district
hasn’t been hiring any teachers in any discipline.
All that aside, Seaquist introduced the bill to make a point. He
said there has been an impetus to “start kids sooner in science.”
So he is looking at, for example, a Central Washington University
graduate with a bachelor’s degree in education, but then a master’s
degree in something like biology, as a good fit in an elementary
school. “We want to go in the direction of highly qualified
technical teachers, bringing real science to schools,” he said. “We
all know we want to go there.”
One problem, he said, is the pay the state and local districts
The average pay for a fresh-out-of college teacher with just a
bachelor’s degree is $34,188, according to the Office of the
Superintendent of Public Instruction. Add that master’s degree and
the average starting pay jumps to $41,716. That’s not far from what
legislators receive, $42,106 for what is technically a part-time
job. But Seaquist points out that a legislator who lives more than
35 miles away from the capitol is also entitled to a $90 day per
diem to handle living-away-from-home expenses.
Seaquist makes the additional point that even the near $42,000
starting teachers with master’s degree make does not compare with
what they would make in the private sector. I used an automated
salary calculator on payscale.com to come up with an estimate that
a brand new research scientist would be paid $55,000 annually right
out of college. That same program estimated the pay would be around
$80,000 after five years.
When I first talked to Seaquist he was clear his bill wouldn’t
pass, but that it would get a hearing. And that’s what he wants
most, for legislators to be compelled to talk about teachers’
“What I’m trying to do is add to the weight of the argument that
we have to be fully funding our schools, as the court says,”
Seaquist said. “I’m really concerned that the Legislature is not
standing up to fully respond to the court’s order.”
That order comes from the Washington Supreme Court’s McCleary
decision, which declared that the state was not fully funding
education as it was constitutionally required to do. The court gave
the Legislature until 2018 to reach full funding and in mid-January
determined that the Legislature’s first attempt to get there in
2013 was too small a step.
Seaquist would not limit the pay discussion to science teachers,
but did so in this bill to illustrate how people with skills that
are in high demand are underpaid in Washington schools. “I’m using
the example of these high-demand, much-in-need teachers to point
out that all of our teachers are underpaid,” he said.
UPDATE: Seaquist wrote to say he has asked the committee
chairman to not schedule a hearing on the bill. He said he was
mindful of the “rapidly growing workload” of the committee and
asked it to be pulled.
Nonetheless, there are still two points he would make, and I’ll
quote, “… a) our teachers are underpaid and b) we are having a hard
time recruiting elementary school teachers with subject matter
expertise, especially in the science and math areas. Although the
school district gave you the technical answer “we don’t have
elementary science teachers” the fact is that we are rapidly moving
to STEM education in our elementary schools and these hands-on,
research Master’s degree teachers are very valuable. I visited last
summer at CWU’s ed school where they are developing new approaches
to developing these teachers.”
So while the current reality is that elementary school teachers
are generalists, Seaquist believes there will be a call for more
elementary school teachers with a science background of some kind.
This bill was designed to get legislators discussing that, even if
he never expected it to pass.
And to answer one question, this is not the first time I’ve seen
a legislator propose a bill knowing full well it would not pass.
Talking about things is some of what legislators are paid to do. A
bill can be akin to an idea in a brainstorming session, something
that doesn’t get accepted on its face, but can be the spark for the
You might have read the AP story about legislative
pushback coming from both sides of the aisle on the state Supreme
Court’s McCleary decision. Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner has
a bill that would shrink the court from nine members to five. Part
of it is a response to what he sees as judicial overreach, but he
also said it would save money.
During AP’s Legislative Preview earlier in January I wondered if
state Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville was chafing at the McCleary
decision follow-up when he said, “If money were the key to
education we’d all long for our kids to be in the Washington, DC
schools.” If we were not in the midst of a period in which the
court had demanded the Legislature spend more on schools, it would
be just another political statement. Coming at this time, however,
it seemed like it might be more than partisan posturing.
Jim Hargrove, a Democratic state senator, is also on the record
saying he sees “separation-of-power problems” with the court’s
Doug Cloud, who was one of the Republican candidates to replace
Jan Angel in the House, said he sees problems with the court’s
If legislators, almost all of whom say they will allocate more
money to education regardless, decide to challenge the court’s
authority, it could mark a precedential moment in Washington
Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing spending $200 million
more from this budget on education, including $74 million that
would give teachers a 1.3 percent raise. It would be the first
cost-of-living raise since 2008, despite the fact that voters
approved annual COLAs in 2000. The governor also cited not just the
decision, but the court’s statement that the Legislature was not
moving fast enough to get to full funding by 2018.
Over the first five years of Jan Angel’s legislative career one
of her laments has been that her bills don’t get the attention they
deserve because she was in the minority in the House chamber.
With Angel’s ascent into the Senate, that has all changed. On
Monday her office issued a press release announcing that eight of
her bills were getting hearings. We wrote about one of them, the bill that
would allow a man who can prove he is not the father of a child to
relinquish rights and responsibilities (i.e. child support) of
In the Senate Law & Justice Committee hearing on that bill,
SB 5997, Angel led off by testifying on the paternity bill, then
was allowed to testify on another of her bills, one dealing with
first class cities being able to employ warrant officers, so she
could leave that committee to go address Angel-authored legislation
in other committees.
Even more Angel news: Members of the Senate Majority Coalition
want Angel to co-chair the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing
and Insurance Committee with Lake Stevens Democrat Steve Hobbs.
Angel does have some experience in banking and coalition leaders
say they want to take advantage of that, according to the story by the (Tacoma) News
Tribune’s Jordan Schrader.
No one will blame you, though, if you suspect some of this is
designed to elevate Angel’s stature in Olympia, especially given
that she faces re-election in November. Her opponent last November,
one-year appointee Democrat Nathan Schlicher, got the opposite
treatment, or so some suspect. If politics are at play, that could
have an impact on whether legislation Angel supports gets
enthusiastic, or any, treatment in the House.
Even if there are no political forces at play, bills often take
more than one session to make it to final passage. First drafts
will often have problems that are not identified until they get
hearings, or at least introduced. Also , this is a short session
and the time frame is crunched, something Angel referenced in her
press release. Getting the eight bills heard is a good start, a
great start, but any bill has to get passed in the House, too,
which means someone over there is going to have to consider it a
On the paternity bill Angel had expected there to be a companion
bill in the House. This legislation, or some form of it, was
originally introduced in the House during 2011-12 session by state
Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla. Walsh and fellow Republican Hans
Zeiger of Puyallup had thought to reintroduce the bill in the
House, but according to a House Republican Caucus spokesman have
decided not to, because the Senate bill was already moving.
If you want to watch the conversation about the paternity bill,
it’s on the video below. It’s the first item of discussion, is
interrupted briefly by the bill about warrants so Angel can go to
another committee. Below the video is the text of Angel’s press
Kitsap legislators have received their leadership assignments
for what’s supposed to be the short legislative session that began
State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, was named
Senate Democratic floor leader. According to a Senate Democrats
statement the floor leader’s role is to “help manage the action on
the Senate floor, and to work across the aisle to ensure the debate
runs smoothly. The floor leader is also the caucus point person on
parliamentary procedure.” Rolfes is also the assistant ranking
member on the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.
Potlatch state Sen. Tim Sheldon, one of two Democrats in the
Senate Majority Coalition, returns as Senate president pro tempore,
which means he runs the Senate floor from up front, wielding the
big gavel whenever Lt. Gov. Brad Owen is not there. Sheldon is also
vice chairman of two committees, Rules and Energy, Environment
New Sen. Jan Angel, elected in November, is vice chairwoman of
the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee.
Three Democrats in the House will chair committees this session.
State Rep. Sherry Appleton of Poulsbo chairs the Community
Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee. Kathy Haigh of
Shelton is chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on
Education. Gig Harbor’s Larry Seaquist will chair the Higher
Education Committee. Bainbridge Island’s Drew Hansen is vice
chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Republican Drew MacEwen of Union is the assistant ranking
minority member on two committees, the Capital Budget Committee and
the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.
Washington State House Republicans will hold a Twitter town hall
forum from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Monday. State Rep. Dan
Kristiansen and J.T. Wilcox will answer Tweeted questions.
Use the hashtag #solutionsWA.
The party’s press release is below.
No word on when the counties will meet to replace Jan Angel in
the House. Josh Brown’s replacement on the commission might happen
Washington House Republicans to host Twitter town hall
Washington House Republicans will host the Legislature’s
first-ever Twitter town hall, January 9, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15
p.m. Participants can ask House Republican leadership members Rep.
Dan Kristiansen and Rep. J.T. Wilcox a 140-character question using
the hashtag #solutionsWA.
House Republicans are not the only government entity to make use
of this communications trend nationwide. President Obama held a
Twitter town hall last July.
“This event will enable people to ask questions and provide
their ideas in the days leading up to the 2014 legislative
session,” said House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen,
R-Snohomish. “This is a new platform for us. We look forward to
hearing from Washingtonians on the issues that are important to
According to Pew Research, nearly one in 10 U.S. adults uses
Twitter to share information. And, more than 50 million people in
the U.S. use Twitter to get news. However, just like all social
media, Twitter has its limitations. Participants and the responding
representatives will only have 140 characters to relay their
questions, answers and ideas.
“It’s our job as elected officials to involve the public at
every opportunity. This is why we use a variety of forums like
Twitter, which has a lot of active followers that we may not
otherwise hear from on statewide legislative issues,” said House
Republican Floor Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm.
The public is encouraged to participate in the January 9 Twitter
town hall using #solutionsWA. Those unable to participate or have
trouble with #solutionsWA can visit the House Republicans’ Twitter
Visit www.houserepublicans.wa.gov for more information about
House Republican members, solutions and results.
Jan Angel, former county commissioner and Republican state
representative in the 26th Legislative District since 2009, took
the oath of office to be the district’s state Senator on Tuesday.
Angel defeated Nathan Schlicher, who in January was appointed by
Pierce and Kitsap county officials, in November to hold the Senate
seat for one year. Angel will hold the seat the final year of the
term Derek Kilmer was elected to in 2010. Kilmer, a Democrat, is
now in Congress. Angel has already begun fundraising for the 2014
campaign when she plans to seek a full four-year term.
Republicans might not get a replacement for Angel before the
Legislative session begins on Jan. 13, but that could depend on how
quickly Kitsap County commissioners are willing to move. The GOP’s
26th Legislative District precinct committee officers chose Jesse
Young as its top choice to replace Angel, followed by Adam Berman
and Doug Cloud. All are from Gig Harbor.
The ultimate decision rests with commissioners from Kitsap
County and Pierce County council members. As it stands now, it
seems unlikely they would meet before Jan. 6. That’s the first date
for a meeting of just Kitsap County commissioners and one of the
first items of business for them will be selecting a replacement
for Josh Brown, who is leaving the board for a position with the
Puget Sound Regional Council. Assuming the commissioners would want
a full board in making the 26th Legislative District selection, it
seems unlikely they would schedule a meeting before Jan. 7.
A Jan. 7 selection meeting would be on time for the Legislature,
but it would not give the new state representative any ability to
officially craft legislation, choose staff and move into office
space well before the session begins.