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Politics Northwest

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

April 16, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Senate Democrats try, and fail, to outmanuever GOP on controversial bills

Senate Democrats tried, and failed, on Tuesday to use a rare procedural move to pass two bills blocked by Republicans.

Democrats wanted to bring up a controversial bill that would require health-insurance plans to cover abortions, as well as legislation that would make certain young immigrants who aren’t legal residents eligible for college financial aid.

To do so, they needed to go to what’s called the ninth order, a step that would allow lawmakers to yank legislation being held in committee onto the floor for a vote. Democrats maintained they had the votes needed to pass the bills once on the floor.

In this case, they did not have the votes needed to get them to the floor. Their attempt was blocked by a 25 to 23 vote.

Democratic Sen. Jim Hargrove, of Hoquiam, crossed party lines to vote on behalf of Republican Sen. Mike Carrell, of Lakewood, who is out ill. That’s a longstanding tradition in the Senate.

Supporters of the Reproductive Parity Act, House Bill 1044, say it’s needed to ensure continued access to insurance coverage of abortions. Opponents contend it’s not needed because all insurers in the state already cover abortion.

The proposed law would require insurance companies to continue to cover abortions once the national health-care law goes into full effect in 2014. There’s uncertainty about how the federal health-care overhaul, and restrictions on abortion funding, might affect abortion coverage in the future.

The financial-aid legislation, House Bill 1817, would make students who aren’t legal residents eligible for the state’s need grants if they meet certain conditions, including having a diploma from a high school in Washington and living in the state at least three years before getting the diploma.

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