Tag Archives: Washington State Legislature

Sheldon upended by Senate minority coalition

Standing at the rostrum Washington state Senator and soon-to-be-defeated in his bid to repeat as Senate President Pro Tem Tim Sheldon gets a photo taken by staff photographer Aaron Barna holding his new grand-daughter Scarlett born on Dec.13. 2014, while joined by his wife Linda and daughter Alex on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, during the opening day for the 2015 legislative session in Olympia. (AP Photo/The Olympian, Steve Bloom)
Standing at the rostrum Washington state Senator and soon-to-be-defeated in his bid to repeat as Senate President Pro Tem Tim Sheldon gets a photo taken by staff photographer Aaron Barna holding his new grand-daughter Scarlett born on Dec.13. 2014, while joined by his wife Linda and daughter Alex on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, during the opening day for the 2015 legislative session in Olympia. (AP Photo/The Olympian, Steve Bloom)
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.

One of Sheldon’s rewards in return was election to what (Tacoma) News Tribune reporter Jordan Schrader described as a “mostly ceremonial job,” of president pro tempore.

Sheldon lost that gig on Monday.

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 do.

Kitsap’s state senators assume leadership roles

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.

Jan Angel
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 committees.

Tim Sheldon
State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, retains his role as Senate president pro tem, even though Republicans have and outright majority now.
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.”

Christine Rolfes
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.”

Tweet the state House Republicans

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 Monday afternoon.

Washington House Republicans to host Twitter town hall January 9

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 them.”

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 page @WaHouseGOP.

Visit www.houserepublicans.wa.gov for more information about House Republican members, solutions and results.

Local governments have been listening to you at their pleasure

When I covered the city of Bremerton and watched the council ask for public comment before consent agenda items, I thought it was a good-will gesture. Turns out I was wrong, not that it wasn’t something councils did not have to do, but in thinking councils had to do that any time. They don’t. They can make whatever decision they want and don’t have to bother with the two or three minutes time they give you to testify.

The only exceptions are items dubbed “public hearings,” which happen mostly for land use issues, according to Roger Lubovich, Bremerton city attorney.

House Bill 1197 would change that by adding the following language:

Before taking final action on any ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, order, or directive, a governing body of a public agency must allow for public comment regarding that ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, order, or directive. The public comment may be taken at the beginning of a meeting at which final action is scheduled, or at a prior meeting for which notice of the comment period on proposed action has been provided.

The bill in the Washington State Legislature, sponsored by state Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, would require local governments to allow for public comment before making any decision.

The legislation would also require that documents related to the agenda item be made available at least by the time the meeting begins. It was sent to the Government Operations & Elections Committee. No one from the Kitsap Caucus has signed on as a co-sponsor yet.

That local governments do offer time for public comment falls under the categories of smart political moves and good customer service. And more than once I have seen a governing body swayed by something said by a constituent.

UPDATE: I had placed a call to Tim Ford, the state’s Open Government Ombudsman in the Attorney General’s office. He told me, and provided the link to the state law, that council-manager city governments are required to provide public comment opportunities. No other local government is. Again, HB 1197 would change that.