Topic: rodney tom
You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.
April 11, 2013 at 5:21 PM
State Senate Democrats sent a letter of apology to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood for what they viewed as a rude reception on Wednesday by the GOP-led majority caucus – a charge Republicans dispute.
“It was appalling to see the tenor of the reception he received from Sen. (Don) Benton and the Republican majority, “ Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, said in a statement.
LaHood and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee visited with Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday. LaHood told them the state needed to commit several hundred million dollars toward completing a multibillion dollar Columbia River crossing or risk losing up to $1.2 billion in federal support.
The majority caucus initially posted a video of their meeting with LaHood online, but then pulled it. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said the recording had been posted inadvertently and as soon as they realized the mistake, took it down.
Senate Democrats, however, felt obligated to post the recording. You can watch it here. The quality is a bit off because they recorded it off of a computer screen, with sticky notes visible at the bottom.
Republican Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, a leading critic of the proposed bridge project, said the caucus was respectful of LaHood but senators did air their concerns.
“What were we supposed to do, roll over because the secretary came to visit?” he said, adding that nobody raised their voice during the meeting. “There’s no need to apologize.”
Benton posted a news release after the meeting with LaHood that read “It’s Benton 1, U.S. Transportation secretary 0 in CRC debate at Capitol.”
David Postman, a spokesman for Inslee, said that what happens inside a caucus is supposed to remain confidential. He would not comment further.
April 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM
OLYMPIA — One of the most contentious social issues of the 2013 legislative session won’t get a vote in the state Senate Health Care Committee, the chairwoman announced Monday afternoon.
The so-called Reproductive Parity Act, which narrowly passed the Democrat-controlled state House on a party-line vote in February, would require health-insurance plans to cover abortions.
Supporters released a letter earlier Monday, signed by a majority of the chamber, saying they have the votes to pass the bill in the Republican-run Senate, too — if leadership would bring it up for a vote.
Following a heated two-hour hearing in the Health Care Committee, chairwoman Randi Becker said she won’t.
“The fact is that at this point, House Bill 1044 is a solution in search of a problem,” said Becker, R-Eatonville, in a statement. “Even advocates of the bill admit that there is no need for the bill today as every health insurer in the state of Washington provides for abortion coverage.”
While that’s true now, supporters of the bill note there’s uncertainty about how the federal health-care overhaul, and restrictions on abortion funding, might affect abortion coverage in the future.
In a statement, Democratic state Sen. Karen Keiser said after the bill didn’t get a vote at the hearing that “unfortunately this is not an April Fools joke —- I wish it was —- a woman’s access to reproductive health care is no laughing matter.”
February 28, 2013 at 5:07 PM
OLYMPIA — Hours after the state Supreme Court declared a supermajority requirement for tax increases unconstitutional, Republicans have started a quest to revive the threshold — by amending the constitution.
The GOP-run Senate budget-writing committee voted 13-10 Thursday afternoon to enshrine the requirement in the constitution.
The proposed constitutional amendment, like the initiative-imposed state law that was struck down earlier Thursday, would require legislation to increase taxes to obtain support from two-thirds of lawmakers or a majority vote of the people.
That standard has been approved by votes five times since 1993. But in a 6-3 ruling, the justices found it violates the constitution.
The constitutional amendment path is unlikely to succeed. Ironically, the proposed amendment would need to obtain its own supermajority — two-thirds support in the full state Senate and state House — and then get a majority of voters.
Democrats, who control the House, say they won’t even give it a vote there. The Senate is almost evenly split.
But if nothing else, the debate in the Senate Ways and Means Committee gave supporters of the two-thirds requirement an opportunity to make a symbolic statement against the court ruling.
“The people of Washington state did not send us down to Olympia to raise taxes,” said Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, a Medina Democrat who caucuses with 23 Republicans and one other Democrat in the majority coalition caucus.
Tom noted that 19 of the committee’s 23 members come from legislative districts where voters approved the supermajority requirement last fall.
Tom’s counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said the requirement allows for a “tyranny of the minority.”
Before the final vote, state Sen. Brian Hatfield unsuccessfully proposed a constitutional amendment of his own: a two-thirds requirement for all votes in the Legislature.
“This is, in some ways, kind of a put up or shut up,” said Hatfield, D-Raymond.
The final vote on the taxes-only requirement went along caucus lines, with all members of the mostly-GOP majority coalition voting yes and all members of the Democratic caucus voting no.
February 25, 2013 at 3:51 PM
OLYMPIA — The state Senate Ways and Means Committee heard a bill Monday that would place new public workers and existing employees younger than age 45 into a 401-K type retirement plan, instead of the existing state pension system.
Under the proposal, Senate Bill 5856, the state would move to a defined contribution plan for all teachers and state employees hired on or after July 1, 2014, and for all current employees under age 45 at that time.
The bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, argues the legislation is needed because it would save the state money.
The Association of Washington Business supports the measure, arguing the private sector is rapidly moving this direction and the state should as well.
If Tom’s bill doesn’t gain support, the Legislature should still pursue the issue, said Amber Carter, who testified on behalf of the AWB. “You will need to do something with the issue soon,” she said.
Labor groups opposed the legislation, arguing the current state pension system is in good shape and there’s no need to change. “We think this is a gratuitous attack on the work force, whose morale is already low,” said Greg Devereux, executive director of the Washington Federation of State Employees.
Tom has talked often about getting rid of the state pension system. However he was the only senator to sign onto the measure. He would not speculate on the bill’s chances of making it out of committee.
If the bill did get passed by the Senate, it would probably die in the Democratically-controlled House. “I don’t think that’s likely to go anywhere,” said House Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina.
February 22, 2013 at 4:31 PM
Unlike in two previous sessions, it looks like lawmakers this year will not significantly change the way public-school teachers are evaluated.
Senate Bill 5246, this session’s major proposal dealing with teacher evaluations, did not get approved at the last Senate education committee meeting of the week on Thursday night.
Today is technically — with some exceptions — the last day for non-budget-related bills to make it out of a committee if they are to have a chance this session.
Senate Bill 5246 was meant to build on last year’s historic law, which made student test scores a part of evaluations. The new bill would have mandated that test scores make up 50 percent of the evaluations.
It was sponsored by Senate education chairman Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, and had the backing of Democrats Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens. But while the bill got a hearing Feb. 4, Litzow never scheduled it for a vote.
It is not unprecedented for teacher-evaluation bills to come back to life after the cut-off — it even happened last year.
But Senate Republicans have said they are prioritizing other policy bills.
February 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM
OLYMPIA — State Senate Republicans, who have already proposed repealing the state’s never-implemented family-leave requirement, are now targeting Seattle’s sick-leave law.
The law, which took effect in September, requires businesses with at least five employees operating in Seattle to provide paid sick leave to workers. Seattle is one of three major cities in the United States to have the law.
Senate Bill 5728 would take Seattle’s law off the books by declaring that the Legislature has the sole responsibility for sick-leave requirements. Senate Bill 5726 would scale back Seattle’s law by prohibiting cities from requiring sick leave for employers based outside the city.
Both bills were introduced Tuesday by Centralia Republican John Braun and are supported by Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina.
No Seattle senators have signed on.
Braun said his main problem with Seattle’s law is that it is affecting businesses that are based outside of Seattle, but do some business there. In addition, he said, “if this is a good idea, it’s a good idea on the state level, and this is a statewide program, and that’s the Legislature’s purview.”
“These are all nice ideas,” he added. “But we can’t afford every nice idea. We have to be realistic.”
The move would be similar to one made is Wisconsin in 2011, when Republicans repealed a Milwaukee sick-leave law.
Officials in Seattle and Olympia blasted Braun’s proposals.
Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata, who sponsored the city law, called the proposed bills “a violation of trust in the democratic process.”
Democratic State Sen. Karen Keiser, ranking member of the Health Care Committee, went further, calling the proposals “an in-your-face kind of assault on workers’ rights.”
“I don’t know what’s going on here. I guess they just like to beat up on poor people,” she said, adding, “I’m surprised, I’m shocked, I’m upset, and I’ll fight it.”
A related proposal in the House, 1781 (which says a city can’t impose sick-leave requirements on businesses based elsewhere) will get a hearing next week, said Democratic Rep. Mike Sells, who chairs the House Labor & Workforce Development Committee. But Sells said his committee and the House in general is focused on expanding sick leave — not restricting it.
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.
February 7, 2013 at 3:16 PM
State Democrats ramped up their public relations campaign against Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon on Thursday, asking party members to sign a letter informing the state senators that they are “no longer part of the Democratic Party.”
Tom, of Medina, and Sheldon, of Potlatch, joined with 23 Republicans last month to form a coalition that now controls the 49-member Senate. Under the coalition, Tom is Senate majority leader and Sheldon is the president pro tempore.
In a Thursday afternoon email to those on the state party’s listserv, Chairman Dwight Pelz called the senators’ move an “astonishing power grab.”
“Senators Tom and Sheldon have betrayed the Democratic Party. They were elected as Democrats. Senator Tom even accepted $25,000 from the Party in 2010,” said Pelz, before urging readers to “call out Tom and Sheldon for the traitors that they are.”
Last week, party leaders passed a resolution formally censuring Tom and Sheldon and pledging not to donate money, send volunteers or allow them access to the party’s voter database in the future.
Other local party groups have done the same.
Tom and Sheldon responded to the state Democrats’ email blast with a blog post entitled, “We’re proud Democrats who represent our districts, not a party.”
“As far as our loyalty is concerned, we are loyal to the principles we have always held and to the constituents who have sent us to Olympia,” they wrote. “We are not switching sides. We always have, and always will, be on the side of the people we represent, and side with them over any political party.”
February 6, 2013 at 2:46 PM
Gov. Jay Inslee warned Senate Republicans on Wednesday he opposes several bills they’ve introduced on energy and the state’s workers’ compensation system, and is concerned by their reluctance to embrace the national health care law.
It’s the first time the new governor has weighed in on legislation proposed by the GOP-led majority in the state Senate.
“I’m very concerned the Senate has gone backwards in two areas,” Inslee said at a news conference Wednesday. He then criticized moves by the Republican-led majority in the Senate to amend Initiative 937 and to revamp the workers’ comp system.
Inslee’s staff said he was particularly concerned by a proposal that would change I-937 to recognize hydroelectricity as a renewable resource.
The initiative requires about a third of the state’s utilities – those with at least 25,000 customers – to get 15 percent of their power through renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020.
Most of the state’s energy comes from hydroelectric power, but existing hydroelectric power isn’t considered renewable energy under I-937, because the initiative was aimed at spurring development of new clean energy.
Inslee said he did not support the GOP proposals regarding the initiative arguing, “It would take us backwards instead of forward.”
He also jumped on plans by the Senate majority to revamp the state workers’ compensation system, saying they would “reduce protections for workers and their families. I think they are unnecessary.”
And the governor urged the Senate to move quickly to expand Medicaid as called for under the national health care law.
If states expand Medicaid programs to cover low-income people now left out, the federal government will pick up the full cost for the first three years and 90 percent over the long haul.
Inslee called that a good deal that will save the state both now and in the future. “This is a no-brainer,” he said.
Leaders of the GOP-led coalition in the Senate dismissed his criticism, saying the changes they’re proposing for I-937 and workers’ compensation are needed to help the economy.
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said the caucus (made up of 23 Republicans and two Democrats) is open to the idea of expanding Medicaid, but they want to make sure there is a way to back out if state costs for the program increase too much in the future.
January 31, 2013 at 12:07 PM
The GOP-led coalition in the Senate declared victory after passing five noncontroversial bills on Wednesday with near unanimous votes.
“Despite dire predictions of gridlock the Senate is operating just fine,” Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said in a statement late Wednesday. “The Majority Coalition Caucus is governing – focusing on job growth, education and creating a sustainable budget while bringing an unprecedented level of cooperation and transparency.”
Tom became majority leader after he and Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, crossed party lines to give Republicans control of the Senate. Since then the coalition has maintained it’s ushering in a new era of bi-partisan cooperation.
The bills that passed, however, dealt with issues such as increasing the number of superior court judges in Whatcom County from three to four, allowing judges to serve out their terms instead of retiring at the end of the calendar year they reach 75, and changing the crime of retail theft with extenuating circumstances to “retail theft with special circumstances.”
None of the bills dealt with job growth, education or creating a sustainable budget.
“Those were five non controversial bills that would have passed under any majority,” said Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle. “They will fly through the House as well. This is just smoke an mirrors.”
Murray said Republicans will get a big fight on bills aimed at revamping the state workers compensation system. Those are expected to come up for a vote next week.
About this blog
Trending with readers