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December 6, 2013 at 5:11 PM
Democrats and Republicans clashed Friday during a meeting of the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup, created by the Legislature to recommend ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Legislature in 2008 passed a law calling for the state to reduce total greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The climate panel, created at the request of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, has been meeting since May to try to hash out recommendations to the governor and the Legislature. There are two Republicans and two Democrats on the panel. Inslee is a nonvoting member.
At Friday’s meeting Inslee tested the waters on whether to recommend that the Legislature adopt a cap on carbon pollution “with binding limits and market mechanisms,” a topic he’s broached before.
“My view is the committee ought to recommend that we do take action … that inaction is not an option,” Inslee told the panel, adding later ,“In order to achieve a binding, successful program of carbon-pollution reduction, our state needs a cap … We cannot allow unlimited spewing of carbon dioxide into our air and eventually into our water. That may be the single most important thing that we can achieve for the state of Washington.”
When Inslee asked other members of the panel how they felt about his ideas, Republicans weren’t happy.
Both Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said the state needed to look at the potential economic impacts of such proposals before moving ahead.
“I will not support a policy that I don’t know what the economic impacts on Washington state are going to be,” Short said.
Inslee pressed the matter, saying at one point, “I’m wondering about our ability … to reach consensus if we have several members who want to make recommendations and several who do not.”
Short snapped back that “What I really resent, governor, is you intimating that we don’t care … I just really resent being put into a corner today, governor.”
The debate devolved from there. Ericksen eventually asked for a short recess for everyone to cool off. They later agreed to adjourn, and come back for more discussions on a broad spectrum of ideas at the next meeting.
The panel has two more meetings scheduled, including a public hearing on Dec. 13.
November 29, 2013 at 10:25 AM
The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday named state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, to replace former Democratic state Sen. Nick Harper.
Harper, of Everett, abruptly resigned Nov. 9, saying in a statement that his work in Olympia “takes me away from my family far too much.”
McCoy, a member of Washington’s Tulalip Tribes, was first elected to the House in 2002 from the 38th District, which represents part of Snohomish County including Everett, Marysville and Tulalip.
McCoy was chair of the House Community Development Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee.
November 22, 2013 at 1:20 PM
Senate Democrats raised concerns Friday that the GOP-led majority in Senate is getting rid of top non-partisan committee staff managers.
Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, said it was her understanding there was pressure from the GOP-led majority caucus to “hire some political-type individuals into the non-partisan staff. Interviews were done. Those individuals were not hired … I’m very concerned that may be the underlying cause of this” action to let the managers go.
Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, sent an email to the Democratic caucus Friday afternoon saying, “I am stunned to let you know that the MCC Leadership have advised (the committee services director and deputy director) that their services are no longer needed and they should find other opportunities by early January. My understanding is that Senators Tom, Parlette, and Fain consulted in advance and made this decision.”
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, the Senate GOP caucus chair, both declined comment. Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, could not be reached.
Fraser went on to write that “this is outside the normal Senate process for terminating an employee. Senate … policy is that an adverse action of this type shall be through a vote of the Senate Employment Committee, of which Senator Nelson and I are members.”
Fraser’s email said an Employment Committee meeting had been scheduled for late afternoon Thursday, “with extremely short notice, and then abruptly canceled.”
“At 6 pm, a meeting took place where Senator Tom advised (the committee staff managers) of the MCC Leadership decision that they should leave Senate employment by early January. (They) were told at that meeting that there were enough votes on the Employment Committee to formalize this action. I want to emphasize that NO meeting of the Employment Committee has occurred, and that as of now none are scheduled.”
Nelson said she has asked the Republican-led majority for more information.
November 20, 2013 at 12:08 PM
A new Stuart Elway poll found that most Washington voters wish the Machinists union had accepted Boeing’s offer to build the 777X in this state in exchange for contract concessions.
“By a margin of 56 to 31 percent, residents interviewed last weekend for The Elway Poll said they would have voted for the proposed contract “if [they] were a Boeing machinist” — almost opposite of the Machinists’ actual vote.”
In addition, 66 percent of the voters surveyed agreed with the state Legislature’s decision to approve more than $8 billion in tax breaks for Boeing, “but just half think the legislature should sweeten the pot any more. And they are not convinced that transportation improvements need to be part of the package.”
Elway in his report said that “when asked if state government should offer more incentives to Boeing now that the company has opened up a multi-state competition, 50 percent said yes, but 38 percent said the state would be ‘better off to save its money, stay with the current package of incentives, and risk having the 777X plant go to another state.’
The poll surveyed 409 voters Saturday through Monday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
November 9, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Update| 3:12 p.m.
OLYMPIA — It’s a wrap. The Legislature on Saturday afternoon approved extending tax incentives worth more than $8 billion for Boeing until 2040.
Along with the tax package, lawmakers voted to spend millions of dollars on worker-training programs and an effort to ease permitting for large aerospace-manufacturing sites.
The bills now go to Gov. Jay Inslee.
Lawmakers will adjourn Saturday afternoon without taking up a transportation package, another issue Boeing had wanted to be handled quickly.
“This is a generational opportunity,” said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Andy Hill, R-Redmond. “This is about our aerospace economy.”
The training measure, SB 5953, passed unanimously and the tax-incentive bill, SB 5952, was approved 42-2.
Democratic Sens. Bob Hasegawa, of Renton, and Adam Kline, of Seattle voted no. Hasegawa was the only senator to raise significant objections during the floor debate.
“I have a philosophical issue with putting this economic development strategy on the backs of the Machinists,” he said. “We’re asking them to sacrifice the future of the next generation of Boeing workers. That is not a sustainable economic development strategy for the state.”
Boeing wants the Machinists union to accept a new eight-year contract with big cuts in future pension and health-care benefits to secure the 777X for Washington state. That union approval could prove troublesome, given the early reviews of the Boeing proposal.
In addition, the company wants the Legislature to boost training for aerospace workers and approve tax incentives worth more than $8 billion.
The company has also stressed that it wants lawmakers to approve a multi-billion dollar transportation package.
Inslee called the special session, which started Thursday, to fulfill the state’s side of the bargain.
There’s companion legislation to the Senate bills in the state House. Legislative leaders said they hope to have final passage of both measures by early afternoon.
The aerospace-training bill, among other things, would spend $8 million to increase high-demand aerospace enrollments by the equivalent of 1,000 additional full-time students for the 2014-15 academic year.
“It is the intent of the Legislature that this funding be ongoing or until there is no longer a demonstrated need,” according to a bill report.
The tax-incentives measure extends commercial-airplane tax breaks — due to expire in 2024 — until 2040 and expands a sales-and-use tax exemption for construction of buildings used to manufacture airplanes.
Legislative leaders in both chambers said there’s no prospect of an agreement on a transportation package Saturday, however it wasn’t immediately clear if the Legislature plans to adjourn Saturday or remain in session while transportation negotiators work to reach agreement.
November 8, 2013 at 2:41 PM
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday indicated he wasn’t surprised by the Machinists union’s angry reaction to the Boeing contract offer.
“I don’t think that we should be surprised that there is strong passion and great deliberations about changes that have been proposed,” he said. “It is legitimate that people have strong passions and will take time to look at this contract.”
Asked if he should make a personal appeal to the union, Inslee said: “I’m not a Machinist. The Machinists’ families will make decisions that are good for their individual circumstances. But I can say unequivocally that an agreement between Boeing and the Machinists is a good thing for the state of Washington.”
The governor said he wasn’t sure if he’d address the union if invited to do so. “I don’t know the answer to that. I’m governor of the state of Washington. These are independent decisions,” he said.
“I do think there is a need to really have a calm dispassionate view of the specifics of the proposal by everybody on table. I think over the weekend as more information is disseminated and people have a chance to look at it in the cool light of day, then people will make their decision.”
November 8, 2013 at 11:24 AM
OLYMPIA — State Sen. Ed Murray, the mayor-elect of Seattle, stepped down Friday as the Senate Democratic leader.
Murray said he needed to devote his attention to the transition of becoming mayor. However, he plans to remain in the Legislature through the special session.
He said he’ll set a date later for resignation from the Legislature. Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, will take over as interim leader of the Senate Democratic caucus.
November 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM
OLYMPIA — The House Finance Committee approved a proposal Friday to extend tax breaks for Boeing and other aerospace industries.
House Bill 2089 goes to House Appropriations next and then, presumably, the House floor. The Senate is expected to take up companion legislation Friday as well.
Boeing has asked for the extension, paired with other incentives, in return for keeping the 777X in Washington. It also has said the Machinist union must accept a new eight-year contract with big cuts in future pension and health-care benefits in exchange for securing the 777X work.
Lawmakers this morning were clearly taken aback by news that the union could reject the offer.
A story in The Seattle Times today noted that District 751 President Tom Wroblewski tore up a copy of Boeing’s contract proposal and said he would try to have it withdrawn. “I know this is a piece of crap,” Wroblewski said.
It’s not clear how the union turmoil could affect the debate in Olympia.
November 7, 2013 at 1:19 PM
House Finance Chairman Reuven Carlyle say there’s “rock-solid” language in legislation extending tax breaks for Boeing, and other aerospace companies, to prevent the company from moving the 777X out of Washington in the future.
“They are committing in black and white, not only to the 777X but its descendant planes,” Carlyle said Thursday, the first day of a special session to deal with Boeing. “If there is an assessment and view that assembly has moved or an element of that has moved, then the preferential rates for the 777X goes away. It’s pretty cut and dry.”
A legislative report for House Bill 2089 states the measure “is contingent upon the Department of Revenue making a determination that a final decision to locate a significant commercial airplane manufacturing program in the state of Washington has occurred. If a decision to locate a significant commercial airplane manufacturing program is not made by June 30, 2017, the bill is null and void.”
It goes on to say “a significant commercial airplane manufacturing program is the commencement of manufacturing of a new model of a commercial airplane or a new version of an existing model and the manufacturing of the fuselage and wings of the new model or new version. The ongoing availability of the preferential B&O tax rate for the production of a new or remodeled commercial airplane is contingent upon maintaining all final assembly of the aircraft, wing assembly, and wing fabrication within the state.”
Carlyle said, that given the safeguards, he feels it’s a good move for the state.
“I don’t feel like we’re being blackmailed at all. There’s no question that extending the (tax breaks) … in exchange for an absolute rock solid, black and white written commitment for the 777X and its descendant planes is a responsible marriage and partnership,” he said.
November 7, 2013 at 12:10 PM
During the first day of a special session — called for the purposes of passing legislation to secure the Boeing 777X in Washington state — the aerospace giant sent the governor a letter reaffirming the need for action.
“The Boeing Company faces an unprecedented level of competitiveness in the global dynamics within the aerospace industry. Our future success demands that we respond to those dynamics to remain competitive,” wrote Tim Keating, Boeing’s senior vice president of government operations.
“I want to confirm that in proposing your package of incentives for legislative consideration, you have correctly interpreted our previous conversations about the elements needed for us to be competitive long into the future in Washington State, and the need for timely action to show partnership with out workforce.”
Questions have surfaced about whether a special session is needed to secure the 777X. Gov. Jay Inslee’s office has responded with letters from both Boeing and the Machinists union discussing the need for the Legislature to act.
Inslee earlier this week called for the special session to pass a $10 billion transportation package. In addition, the governor wants the Legislature to extend existing commercial-airplane tax incentives — due to expire in 2024 — until 2040; to expand a sales-and-use tax exemption for construction of buildings used to manufacture airplanes; and to boost enrollment in aerospace fields at colleges, among other actions.
The House Finance Committee will hear a bill today at 1:30 p.m. that would extend aerospace tax incentives. Floor action could come as soon as Saturday.
In addition to legislative action, Boeing wants the Machinists union to accept a new eight-year contract with big cuts in future pension and health-care benefits in exchange for securing the 777X work.
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