Topic: Jamie Pedersen
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March 26, 2013 at 3:38 PM
OLYMPIA — Democrats used a state Senate committee hearing Tuesday to vent about how increasing political spending by corporations poses “a threat to our democracy.”
State Sen. Adam Kline and state Rep. Jamie Pedersen, both from Seattle, urged the Senate Government Operations Committee to adopt a measure to show support for an amendment to the United States Constitution to “return the authority to regulate election campaign contributions to congress and state legislatures.”
That authority disappeared, Kline and Pedersen said, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to remove limits on independent political spending by corporations and unions.
“I don’t want to get the violins and throwing flags and all that, but part of the reason this country was created was to institute self-governing, and this goes I think to the core of that,” Kline said. “It allows those with frankly more money to have a louder voice.”
The public testimony at the packed hearing occasionally got testy.
At one point, Chris Esh of the Washington Public Interest Research Group referred to “dark money groups” and promptly got cut off by committee chairwoman Pam Roach, R-Auburn.
Nobody spoke against the bill — one resident accidentally signed up to oppose the bill but spoke in favor of it — but the measure is no sure bet.
The symbolic bill narrowly passed the state House on a near-party line vote earlier this month. But a similar bill introduced in the state Senate never got a vote in committee.
March 12, 2013 at 8:39 PM
OLYMPIA — Gun-control advocates in the state House conceded defeat Tuesday night on their top priority: a high-profile bill to require background checks for all gun sales.
While cautioning that nothing is ever truly dead in Olympia, bill sponsor Jamie Pedersen said “it does not appear that we’re going to make it there.”
“I always thought this was a stretch goal for us,” said Pedersen, D-Seattle. “It turns out it was too much of a stretch.”
Pedersen and others — including House Speaker Frank Chopp and Gov. Jay Inslee — have spent the past few days pushing for House Bill 1588, which would end a discrepancy in state law that allows sales from unlicensed, private dealers without background checks.
Earlier Tuesday, supporters announced they were adding a referendum clause to the bill in a last-minute bid to secure three needed votes.
Pedersen told reporters that the clause, which would put the issue on the November ballot, would be enough to get the votes. But after a day of politicking, he said the clause had indeed picked up some votes — but also turned off a half dozen original supporters of the bill.
Those supporters were concerned about risking a referendum in an off-year, low-turnout election, Pedersen said.
A spokesman for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which had been pushing the bill, said the group may consider running an initiative campaign in favor of expanded background checks.
In the Legislature, the prospects for the bill also appeared grim in the Republican-run state Senate, where leadership has indicated they will not bring up the bill for a vote.
Supporters in the Senate had said they had the votes to pass the bill — if they could get a vote on it.
Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray said Tuesday’s developments in the House made that harder.
“It’s not over until it’s over, but this makes it more difficult,” he said.
Non-budget bills have until Wednesday to make it out of their house of origin.
On Tuesday night, several House Democrats emerged from the caucus room with tears in their eyes.
“As a parent of four young kids –” said state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle. “Just, incredibly disappointing.”
March 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM
OLYMPIA — Supporters of a bill to require background checks for all gun sales added a referendum clause to the proposal Tuesday morning in a last-minute bid to gain support in the state House.
“We worked really hard, but we could not get to 50 votes without a referendum clause,” said Pedersen, D-Seattle, acknowledging that any referendum campaign would be expensive.
A vote has been tentatively scheduled for early this afternoon, following a 1 p.m. caucus. Republicans plan to block the bill, including by offering several amendments.
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a new group funded by Nick Hanauer, is expected to run the campaign in support of the expanded checks — if the bill passes the House and Senate.
The Alliance has hired Zach Silk as its campaign manager. Silk ran last year’s successful referendum to legalize gay marriage.
Currently, background checks are required for sales by licensed dealers but not for purchases from private, unlicensed sellers. Ending that discrepancy has become a major flashpoint in Washington state and Washington, D.C.
Supporters say it could help curb gun violence, while opponents decry it as ineffective and unconstitutional.
The hope is that the referendum clause will give the proposal enough votes to get it over the top in the state House. As of late Monday night, the proposal was still three votes short despite a late lobbying effort by Gov. Jay Inslee.
“We’re very excited about being able to get an affirmative vote,” said Christian Sinderman, a spokesman for the Alliance.
Sinderman said his group has talked with Pedersen and other lawmakers about the potential referendum.
The tougher fight will be in the Senate. Supporters there say they have the votes, but only if they can get the measure to the floor in a chamber controlled by Republicans who oppose the measure.
If it gets to a referendum, Sinderman said the campaign in favor would “start in a good place.”
A recent Elway Poll found that 79 percent of voters support universal background checks. But gun-control measures have not fared well at the ballot in Washington state in recent years.
A lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, which opposes the bill, and several Republican senators declined to comment until after the vote.
February 19, 2013 at 12:27 PM
Update: This post has been updated with reaction from state Rep. Jamie Pedersen about the bill’s prospects.
OLYMPIA — A controversial gun control measure cleared its first major hurdle Tuesday, moving out of the state House Judiciary Committee on a 7-6 vote.
One Republican supported the bill — state Rep. Mike Hope, a Seattle police officer who lives in Lake Stevens.
Tacoma Democrat Steve Kirby voted no.
House Bill 1588, which would require a background check for almost all gun purchases, will now move to the House Rules Committee. Approval there would send it to the House floor.
Prime sponsor Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said the bill does not yet have the votes to pass. But he said there’s “a decent chance” it will soon.
The bill seeks to address a so-called loophole in current law: Licensed firearm dealers must conduct a background check for sales, but private sellers — at gun shows or anywhere else — do not.
The bill would require a background check for all purchases unless the buyer has a concealed weapon permit.
Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, supports the idea. So do a near-majority of 23 state senators, but leaders of the GOP-controlled Senate say it’s unlikely to get a floor vote in their chamber.
On Tuesday, Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee made clear why they are opposed.
“This bill provides yet one more barrier to the poorest in our society among us to be able to protect themselves,” said state Rep. Matt Shea, of Spokane Valley. “I will not have that on my conscience.”
“I see this as a significant infringement of our Second Amendment rights,” added state Rep. Jay Rodne, R-North Bend.
But Pedersen, the sponsor and committee chairman, noted that background checks are already conducted before many gun purchases, “apparently without violating the amendment. ”
“Putting in place a system that makes sure that there isn’t a clear pathway around those rules makes sense and is likely to reduce some gun violence in our society,” Pedersen said.
Hope, the Republican who provided the decisive vote, acknowledged just before the vote that “politically speaking, this may not be the best thing.”
But it was the right thing to do, he said.
The bill, which drew dozens of supporters and opponents to a contentious hearing last week, is one of several the Legislature is considering in the aftermath of the school shooting in Connecticut in December.
February 13, 2013 at 10:15 AM
OLYMPIA — Amid arguments over the Bible and gun-violence statistics, a state House panel Wednesday morning took up a proposal to eliminate all exceptions to required background checks for firearm sales.
The proposal, House Bill 1588, is a central and controversial part of Democrats’ push to enact new restrictions in the wake of the gruesome school shooting in Connecticut. It would make it a crime for private citizens to sell a firearm at a gun show or anywhere else without conducting a background check; licensed dealers are already required to do so.
“I don’t think this is a bill that will solve all the problems of gun violence in our country,” said Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle Democrat who sponsored the bill and chairs the House Judiciary Committee. “But this is a small step that we can and I believe we should take that will move us toward a society that will be safer.”
Pedersen announced at the hearing that he and other supporters were slightly scaling back their proposal. Under the amended version, agencies conducting the checks would have to destroy records of the search, and a concealed pistol license could stand in place of a new check.
About a dozen officials and residents testified in favor of the proposal, including Seattle Police Department Deputy Chief Nick Metz and Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle shooting survivor Cheryl Stumbo.
“Please do what you can today,” Stumbo pleaded.
About a dozen gun owners and Second Amendment activists testified against the proposal, arguing the bill goes too far and would be ineffective.
Brian Judy, a representative for the National Rifle Association called it a “huge regulatory scheme.”
“Ninety-nine percent of gun owners are law-abiding citizens, and those are the ones who will be affected by this,” Judy said. “This is a misdirected program. It’s not going to work.”
Dinah Griffey, a gun owner who said she survived a domestic violence attack, told lawmakers that “every time you limit a woman’s right to defend herself, you empower her attacker.”
Among the most contentious moments in the two-hour hearing, GOP state Rep. Matt Shea argued with Seattle pastor Sanford Brown about what the Bible says about gun control, and Vancouver resident Wayde Hager called out state Rep. Mike Hope, a Seattle police officer who is backing the proposal, over statistics about where inmates get guns.
Also considered at the hearing, were House Bill 1612, which would create a registry of gun-crime offenders; House Bill 1147, which would increase the penalty for a second conviction for unlawful possession of a firearms; and House Bill 1676, which would make it a crime for an adult to leave a gun in a place a child can access it.
January 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM
OLYMPIA — A group of mostly Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday to require background checks on all gun sales — no exceptions.
Currently, licensed firearms dealers at brick-and-mortar stores must conduct background checks, but private, unlicensed dealers at gun shows — or outside city gun buybacks — do not.
House Bill 1588 would require private dealers to request a background check from a local law-enforcement agency. Not doing so would be a felony.
The bill was introduced by state Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle Democrat who chairs the House committee tasked with gun policy.
Twenty-three state representatives have signed on, including Republicans Mike Hope of Lake Stevens, who is a Seattle police officer, and Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla.
Most Republicans oppose the idea, calling it an unnecessary restriction on gun owners that won’t work because bad guys who want to buy guns will do so illegally anyway.
A recent poll — funded by a group that supports gun restrictions– found large support among state residents.
The proposal is one of several gun-related ideas lawmakers are considering to address gun violence.
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