Topic: Pam Roach
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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.
February 11, 2013 at 4:13 PM
After nearly a month of discussions in the state House about a wide range of proposals to reduce gun violence, the state Senate is getting into the debate.
Senate Democrats introduced six bills Monday dealing with firearm restrictions and mental health that may face resistance in the GOP-controlled chamber.
The most high-profile measure would require background checks for all gun purchases, ending exceptions for private sales at gun shows, between friends on the street and anywhere else. A similar bill has been introduced in the state House, and President Barack Obama is pushing the entire country to move in that direction.
The package also includes measures to increase the state’s ability to civilly commit those who might be dangerous; to allow residents to voluntarily surrender a gun to law enforcement for 30 days for safe-keeping; and to make it a crime for a person to leave a loaded firearm in a place where a child is likely to gain access.
“The people in my district and across Washington want us to take action to ensure the safety of our communities,” said state Sen. Nick Harper, D-Everett, in a news release announcing the package.
Prospects for passage are unclear.
The background-check bill has support from two Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, a Medina Democrat who is caucusing with a majority coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats. Still, the Senate committee tasked with setting gun policy is run by Mike Padden, R-Spokane, who does not favor many more gun restrictions.
The Legislature was expected to consider a variety of gun-policy proposals this session, in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings. Many state lawmakers have gotten high marks from the National Rifle Association, the nation’s dominant pro-gun lobby.
State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, promised the crowd Friday at a Second Amendment rally in Olympia that the state Senate would protect the rights of gun owners.
January 22, 2013 at 4:18 PM
The state Senate has apparently scaled back plans to investigate who leaked documents involving state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, to the media.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Roach violated Senate policy by verbally attacking a Senate Republican staffer last year. The information came from leaked documents.
Republicans, who control the state Senate with the help of two Democratic senators – Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch – authorized the secretary of the Senate to investigate the matter in consultation with private counsel.
Senate Democrats sent out an email on Tuesday saying Tom would conduct the investigation by himself. Tom was appointed Senate Majority Leader by the Republicans after he crossed party lines.
In an interview on Tuesday, Tom said he planned to ask Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, Tom Hoemann, the former secretary of the Senate, and the Democratic and Republican caucus attorneys a few questions related to the leak. He would not describe his questions.
If all five people say they had nothing to do with leaking the documents to AP, Tom said he’ll drop the matter. “I wanted to make sure people understood this isn’t a witch hunt,” Tom said. “We’re just trying to maintain the integrity of the institution and move forward.”
January 17, 2013 at 4:41 PM
In a rambling, hour-long news conference, beleaguered state Sen. Pam Roach on Thursday enumerated her life accomplishments, lectured reporters and announced that she is writing a book.
The book, to be titled “The Caucus,” will be about “what it’s like to be in the Senate Republican caucus,” the six-term Auburn senator said.
Roach called the news conference to respond to reports about a GOP-controlled Senate panel lifting sanctions that were levied against her in 2010 for allegedly mistreating a former Senate staffer.
Democrats say that Roach, who gave Republicans a critical vote allowing them to take control of the state Senate, did not satisfy the terms of her 2010 punishment.
Moreover, the decision came amid reports of a separate incident last year in which she allegedly verbally assaulted another Senate staffer.
On Thursday, Roach stated that “I have never mistreated anyone.”
She blamed the allegations on a “long, drawn-out campaign to ruin my good name” by her Senate Republican colleagues.
As in the past, she said the campaign was started by the late Jim West, a former Spokane senator whom Roach says was the subject of potentially damaging emails that her staff discovered. She said it was continued by Mike Hewitt, a Walla Walla senator whom Roach unsuccessfully challenged for leadership of the caucus.
“This is the largest, most concentrated effort to ruin somebody’s name in the Legislature that has ever happened in state history,” said Roach, adding that the effort was aided by a sexist Senate Republican caucus and a lazy and sensationalistic media.
Roach spent much of her news conference reviewing her record of accomplishment, in and out of the Legislature. She help up an iPad with a photo of her doing a radio show in Zambia, and she passed out a pamphlet about a school in Honduras where she volunteers.
“I do more arguably — not even arguably — than anybody else in this Senate,” said Roach, describing her successful five children and 16 grandchildren. “I care about people.”
Roach said she will seek re-election.
But she would not answer questions about why the Senate panel lifted sanctions against her, calling the explanation “personal” and saying only that “apparently (the committee members) were satisfied.”
“I’m done answering questions,” Roach said after an hour and just a handful of questions. “I just spent an hour of my time. Without lunch.”
January 15, 2013 at 8:28 PM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A state Senate panel has removed sanctions against a Republican lawmaker despite fresh allegations that she mistreated staff members in the Legislature.
The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee decided Tuesday night that Sen. Pam Roach can now resume direct contact with staff. Republican Sen. Don Benton, who chairs the committee, declined to discuss the reasoning.
The change allows Roach, R-Auburn, to serve as chair of a Senate committee focused on government operations.
Documents previously obtained by The Associated Press concluded that Roach violated the Senate’s policy in March by verbally attacking a Senate Republican staffer charged with upholding sanctions against Roach. Those sanctions from 2010 came after an investigation determined that she had mistreated staff.
Roach is a key vote in a new Republican-leaning coalition in the Senate. That coalition has only a one-vote advantage in the chamber.
January 9, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Did Initiative 1185, the voter-approved measure that requires a two-thirds vote in the state Legislature to increase taxes, rescind tuition-setting authority that was granted by lawmakers in 2011 to Washington universities?
Initiative supporter Tim Eyman and state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, say it did. Roach has asked the Attorney General’s Office to examine tuition-setting authority in light of I-1185, which passed in November.
But University of Washington officials say the Legislature has annually delegated the authority for universities to raise tuition in the budget bill, and I-1185 won’t change that. The initiative also requires a majority vote in the Legislature to raise fees, and tuition has been interpreted as a fee by the attorney general.
In an email to the attorney general, Roach said she believes that “the voters, by giving I-1185 almost two-thirds of the vote, clearly re-established the elected Legislature to make decisions on tuition, not unelected officials at state universities.”
The Attorney General’s office has looked at this issue once before, when it responded to a question about how I-1053, a similar tax initiative, would affect increases in tuition fees.
In 2011, State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, asked if that initiative required additional legislative action before a tuition increase could go forward. The informal opinion was yes, although the attorneys wrote that the Legislature “could either enact a statute directly imposing or increasing a fee in a specified amount, or could instead delegate authority to impose or increase fees to an administrative agency.”
Margaret Shepherd, director of state relations for the UW, says the Legislature has routinely delegated the authority to impose or increase tuition to universities and colleges as part of its budget bill. Shepherd said this was true even before the Legislature gave the state’s schools tuition-setting authority. “We believe the same will be necessary and true after the passage of I-1185,” she said.
“The people, when they passed I-1053 in 2010, said they wanted fees set by the Legislature,” Eyman wrote. “The Legislature in 2011 delegated the authority. If Sen. Roach is correct (and based on the Benton informal opinion, she is), then the people in 2012 gave it back to the Legislature again.
“Think of it as a tug-of-war but the last ‘pull’ was the voters’ overwhelming approval of I-1185 last November,” he wrote.
The Attorney General’s Office is expected to give an informal opinion in a few weeks.
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