Follow us:

Politics Northwest

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

February 7, 2014 at 1:58 PM

Democrats question GOP’s removal of moderate from key panel

OLYMPIA — The state House Republican Caucus has removed Rep. Mike Hope from the Judiciary Committee, a move some Democrats say was retaliation for the moderate member joining with them last year to support universal background checks for gun sales.

Hope, a former Seattle police officer who lives in Lake Stevens, was replaced on the committee by the more conservative Larry Haler, a Hanford contractor who lives in Richland.

The change likely dooms the prospects of several bills establishing more gun restrictions — including the chances of the Initiative 594 being approved in the Legislature instead of going to the November ballot.

The initiative, which would expand background checks to cover all gun sales, is similar to a bill that moved through the committee last year on a 7-6 vote, with Hope voting yes and moderate Tacoma Democrat Steve Kirby voting no. The bill eventually failed, leading to the initiative that is going first to lawmakers and then, if it does not win approval there, to the voters.

Besides Hope’s removal, the only change on the committee this year is that two members moved to the state Senate and were replaced by the members who were appointed to replace them in the House.

Because it is rare for members to switch committees in the middle of a two-year term, some say the move shows how far caucuses in Olympia can go to ensure loyalty.

House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen disputed that notion, saying he made the change because Hope is not seeking re-election and the committee would benefit from a more permanent presence.

“We knew these were issues that are going to come up for years, and we want people that can be there for that,” said Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.

Hope himself also said he did not feel the move was made out of retaliation.

But Jamie Pedersen, who chaired the House Judiciary Committee last year before moving to the state Senate this year, said he has heard from several Republicans that it was retaliation.

“That’s my understanding, yes,” said Pedersen, D-Seattle, who described the switch as “unusual.”

The current committee chairwoman, Tacoma Democrat Laurie Jinkins, declined to speculate.

“I’ve heard the same rumors,” she said. “But honestly I have no idea how those decisions are made. I barely understand how the Democrats make those decisions.”

Jinkins acknowledged that “Mike not being on the committee makes it harder” for Democrats to pass universal background checks or other measures related to gun restrictions.

But she said she has chosen not to hold a vote on Initiative 594 not because she doesn’t think it could pass her committee but because she doesn’t think it could pass the overall divided Legislature.

Comments | More in Gun initiative, State Legislature | Topics: Dan Kriastensen, Initiative 594, Jamie Pedersen

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►