January 18, 2013 at 3:50 PM
State election watchdogs cited Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes for first-time, inadvertent, minor violations of state law in his campaigning last year for Initiative 502, which created the state’s legal marijuana law.
The Public Disclosure Commission also found that Holmes’ assistant Kim Garrett violated the law in the way she scheduled campaign events for her boss on city time, using city equipment.
Holmes and Garrett agreed to the findings — which carry no monetary fine — after a hearing Friday.
State investigators found that while Holmes and Garrett tried to keep the I-502 campaign separate from city work, that effort was difficult because pot policy has been a frequent focus of the city and Holmes’ work.
Operating under Holmes’ direction, Garrett put campaign events on Holmes’ public calendar to keep his schedule free of conflicts, which is allowed.
But investigators reported that Garrett on three occasions went beyond the simple ministerial act of placing events on Holmes’ schedule. In one case, she verified the existence of a magazine that wanted to interview Holmes; in another instance she called a photographer to schedule an appointment, rather than merely recording the date and time of an arranged event. And in the third violation, she discussed the logistics of Holmes’ schedule with an event organizer instead of just placing the event on his calendar.
Holmes and Garrett said they didn’t intend to violate any laws.
January 18, 2013 at 3:12 PM
State Sen. Ed Murray chastised Sen. Rodney Tom Friday in a strongly-worded letter that questions Tom’s leadership as chair of a committee that wants to shut down the state’s prepaid college tuition program.
Tom, who described the Guaranteed Education Tuition program as a “Ponzi scheme” during a phone interview Friday, said it would be “fiscally irresponsible” for the state to continue to take GET investments. He defended the way he polled members for a final vote, which occurred via email on Dec. 31, and said the procedure was given the OK by the Senate’s attorney.
Murray wrote that “while it may technically be within your legal authority as the Chair of the Advisory Committee to email committee members on the final day of the calendar year and ask for their input on a proposal that was never properly vetted in a public forum, your actions certainly do not follow the spirit of transparency and open government for which the State of Washington and the State Senate are known.
“Furthermore, the Committee’s recommendation to close the GET program far exceeds the directive given by the Legislature, which was simply to make a recommendation regarding differential tuition as it relates to the solvency of the GET program,” Murray wrote.
Tom polled committee members by email because too few of them were present at the last meeting to reach a consensus. Tom said he took the vote on Dec. 31 because one member, former state Sen. Lisa Brown, was going to begin a new job as chancellor of Washington State University-Spokane, on Jan. 1, and he did not want her to have the appearance of a conflict of interest when she voted.
“Out of deference to Senator Brown, Senator Murray is trying to attack me?” Tom asked Friday. “That makes no sense. I was doing it for her benefit, not mine.”
Tom’s committee released a report this week recommending that the GET program be closed. The college savings program is currently underfunded by about $631 million; the state actuary expects the fund to fully recover in about 20 years.
The committee was formed to make a recommendation to the Legislature on whether to allow state universities to charge different tuition for different programs, and to examine how that might affect the GET program.
January 18, 2013 at 2:26 PM
State legislators have no shortage of things to do this session. One week into the session,more than 350 bills have been filed. While some of these bills will never see the light of day, there are a few stand-outs:
Legislators from both the House and Senate filed bills regarding “voluntary termination of a pregnancy,” otherwise known as abortion. HB 1044 filed by Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, and SB 5009 filed by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, would require that certain healthcare plans providing coverage for maternity care provide coverage of abortion.
Numerous bills regarding sex offenders have been introduced to the House and Senate this session, including SB 5094, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Pearson, D-Monroe. This bill calls for school districts to notify parents, legal guardians, students over the age of 18 and school personnel if a level II or III sex offender is enrolled at any school, college or university. Necessary personnel determined by the school district or Department of Public Safety, would be notified if a level I sex offender is in attendance.
In an attempt to reform social services provided by the state, Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, introduced HB 1190. The bill would require that certain recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, a Department of Social and Health Services program providing families in need with temporary cash and medical assistance, be subjected to drug tests. Current state law only requires that recipients deemed drug or alcohol dependent participate in a drug or alcohol treatment program.
Republicans in both the House and Senate filed bills regarding identification cards for undocumented immigrants. Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, filed HB 1041, which would require driver’s license and identification card applicants to provide evidence of a valid Washington residential address. The Department of Licensing would then mail the newly-issued card to that address. Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, filed SB 5012 which would require people obtaining or renewing state driver’s licenses to show proof of U.S. citizenship, residency or a valid visa.
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