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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 10, 2013 at 8:37 AM

So much for avoiding social issues: Abortion coverage back on table

State Sen. Steve Litzow,
R-Mercer Island

State Sen. Steve Hobbs,
D-Lake Stevens

Although Senate Republicans vowed not to get bogged down by social issues in the upcoming legislative session, a big one is primed to smack them in the face.

State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, plans to reintroduce legislation that would require health-insurance plans covering maternity care to also pay for abortions. The Legislature goes into session on Monday.

More interesting, though: The measure, called the Reproductive Parity Act, is co-sponsored by Republican state Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. In addition, Sen. Rodney Tom, who’s expected to be the new Senate Majority Leader starting next week, also supports the measure.

In case you missed the recent political machinations in the Senate, Republicans are expected to take control on Monday with the help of Tom, D-Medina, and Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, who will caucus with the GOP.

Under this arrangement, Tom will get the top spot as majority leader. Tom and other members of his caucus have said everyone agreed not to let social issues distract the Legislature from focusing on jobs, education and passing a budget.

This could test that promise. Tom and others downplayed the prospect of discord.

“You are going to see individual members do what they want to do, but what we have said is, we’re not going to let social issues divide our focus,” Tom said. “I’m fully supportive (of the measure) and still will be supportive, but we’ll see how others react to it.”

Litzow took hits during his re-election campaign for voting against the measure last session in the Senate, after it had already passed the House. Litzow says he’s always supported the legislation but voted against it last year, because it got tied up in a complicated procedural move on the Senate floor when the GOP took control of the budget.

“This is a bill that I think is important. I’ve supported this bill. I think it’s about reproductive justice,” he said. “I want to bring the issue up.”

Comments | More in homepage, Politics Northwest, State budget, State Legislature | Topics: legislature, Reproductive Parity Act, rodney tom


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