Angel at center of controversy over funding for homeless

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 second thought.”

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.

12 thoughts on “Angel at center of controversy over funding for homeless

  1. Where is the proof the $40.00 spent for homelessness helped decrease homelessness?
    Where is it documented?
    Nine years should be plenty of time to prove it worked.
    Did it work?
    Nothing in this article shows responsible leadership by the people we elected to represent us.

  2. Thank you, Jan Angel, for caring about homeless people. I know people have been helped because of this simple fee. We need people with heart and soul as leaders. I commend you for your move.

  3. Sharon why don’t you first read the complete article before posting. It clearly discribes the services that the money is used for.

  4. Why don’t you read my questions before commenting?
    Where are the stats Jane, showing the decline of homeless thanks to the money allotted to helping them help themselves?
    Otherwise let’s be fair and add a state or Kitsap county tax everyone pays to help the homeless without accountability – just as it seems to be now.

  5. Passed 62 to 36 in the House

    All democrats voted for it. 7 republicans .did also 36 republicans voted against it.

    Recommend this web , its called Washington Votes . Gives the history of the bills also . Has much information , What the debate was , both sides explained etc .
    Also allows for your own comments .

  6. Education, homelessness, and similar issues are such hot button and potentially emotional ones. There are numerous complaints about the irresponsibility of unfunded mandates. The flip side is funding without assessment or review of programme efficacy to ensure proposed or stated objectives are actually being met. If real government reform is to occur, the oversight has to get beyond partisanship, pet projects and interests in order to take a hard look at responsible infrastructure. By all means provide assistance to those who truly need it, but don’t keep throwing money at systems which aren’t working well or as well as they could be.

  7. Efficacy was never a question Angel brought up nor was it mentioned by Republican leadership until AFTER Angel used a parliamentary trick to kill this bill that had bipartisan support in both houses. Plain and simple, this political one upsmanship. Frank Chopp, Speaker of the House, is a housing advocate. Rodney Tom, Democrat leading the Republican coalition in the Senate, wanted to shoot down something dear to the Speaker’s heart, regardless of the effect on citizens.

    This fund is used to help homeless children, victims fleeing domestic abuse and homeless veterans, among others.

    Here’s the URL for metrics from 2013 for this program:
    Check the evidence before you condemn this program.

    Also, as the cuts begin in 2015 and the funds are awarded prior to the 2015 legislative session, agencies and nonprofits who administer this fund will get less money, so does make a significant difference that the bill has been dealt this blow now. There is a chance it can be revived but there is a greater chance that fewer children, abused women and homeless veterans will be helped in 2015.

  8. I didn’t read any comments which condemned the programme. Whether or not Angel brought up the issue at that time, I did follow up for information and details to substantiate the representation that reporting requirements associated with the funding were not met. I am awaiting feedback and will gladly provide it at that time. I also realise my lack of concern about the parties involved will not be a common position, but I also know from person and professional experience that ‘plain and simple’ doesn’t tend to apply in the political arena.

  9. The state democrats are using this to attack Rodney Tom , sending out requests for money and support for a democrat Joan McBride, Mayor of Kirkland to oppose him in the next election .

    Never let a crisis go to waste .

  10. Susan,

    I don’t suppose you are interested in apologizing to Jan for your comments. This was never about Frank Chopp, ‘political one-upsmanship’, or anything other than getting the best legislation possible.

    The reality is that all the negative spin against Jan on this matter was really a preview of the negative campaigning that will be mounted against her for the upcoming Senate election.

  11. “The reality is that all the negative spin against Jan on this matter was really a preview of the negative campaigning that will be mounted against her for the upcoming Senate election.”

    Though there are some elected officials with whom I frequently disagree, your above comment is why I have respect for those who throw their hat into the rings in such a public manner.

    I found the speculation and rousing articles about this interesting. We asked Jan for information and she freely and quickly provided it.

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