Topic: Sen. Rodney Tom
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April 25, 2013 at 5:54 PM
The GOP-led majority in the Senate held a preemptive news conference Thursday to blame Democrats for potentially dragging the Legislature into special session – four days before the regular session is set to end.
“We are calling on the House of Representatives to do their job,” said Senate Deputy Republican Leader Don Benton, of Vancouver. “The Senate has done its work.”
Benton and other members of the GOP-controlled majority caucus said they’ve passed all the bills needed to wrap up the state operating budget and blamed House Democrats for not moving on them.
Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, who held his on news conference afterward to respond, said Republicans have been out of power so long they’ve forgotten how to govern.
“You are not governing if you say here is my budget, we’re done,” Murray said, noting it’s the majority’s job not only to pass a budget in the Senate but also to compromise with the Democratically controlled House to pass a budget there.
Republicans took control of the state Senate, for the first time in eight years, on the first day of the session when Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom, of Medina, and Tim Sheldon, of Potlatch, crossed party lines to caucus with the GOP.
Legislative leaders have not officially said there will be a special session, but have strongly indicated it’s likely.
Sheldon and Benton on Thursday also said that if Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee decided to wait a few weeks before calling a special session, it would be for political reasons.
“I’ve got to say that frankly I smell a rat. I think it’s politics … There are individuals running for offices,” he said, referring specifically to Murray, who is running for mayor of Seattle and cannot raise money for his campaign while the Legislature is in session.
Murray said he’s not worried about going into a special session and that his campaign would do fine regardless.
David Postman, a spokesman for Inslee, said the remarks were out of line.
“To claim outright there is some ulterior political motive on the part of others demeans them. That’s not what this is about and they should not be talking like that,” he said. “They said it about the governor and said it about other people and they know that’s out of line.”
April 1, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Updated with Republican reaction
State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, says a House bill requiring health-insurance plans to cover abortions has the 25 votes needed to pass the Senate.
Hobbs, the sponsor of a Senate version of the bill, and other supporters have been pushing for a floor vote since then, but the GOP-led caucus in the Senate has resisted.
That appears to remain the case. When asked if the letter changed anything, Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, would only say, “I’ll bet there are bills that have 50 plus votes in the House that aren’t moving, too.”
Senate Health Care Committee Chairwoman Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, would not stop to answer questions when I saw her outside the Senate wings on Monday.
Democrats have been saying for awhile that they believed they had the votes needed to approve the measure, but this is the first time they’ve produced a letter. The letter was written, and dated, March 5. But it took Hobbs awhile to collect all the signatures.
Hobbs said he’s gotten no indication from Republicans –- who control the flow of legislation in the Senate – if they’ll bring it up for a vote. “They aren’t telling me anything,” he said.
Two of the senators who signed the letter, Sens. Rodney Tom and Steve Litzow, belong to the majority caucus. Tom, D-Medina, crossed party lines on the first day of the session along with Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, to give Republicans control of the Senate. Tom was appointed Senate majority leader. Litzow, R-Mercer Island, has long indicated support for the measure.
Democrats have talked about trying to use a controversial procedural move to outmaneuver the majority and bring the bill up for a floor vote. Hobbs, however, said that although the votes exist to pass the bill, he’s not sure the votes exist to bring it to the floor.
Supporters say the law is needed to ensure continued access to insurance coverage of abortions. Opponents have argued the measure is not needed because all insurers in the state already cover abortion.
The Reproductive Parity Act would require insurance companies to continue to cover abortions once the national health-care law goes into full effect in 2014. There’s uncertainty about how the federal health-care overhaul, and restrictions on abortion funding, might affect abortion coverage in the future.
March 29, 2013 at 1:05 PM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — A key Washington state lawmaker says state funds are too scarce to extend college aid to illegal immigrants. The statements by Republican Sen. Barbara Bailey dim the prospects of the measure supporters call the Washington Dream Act.
Writing Friday in Washington Focus, Bailey said the state makes too many promises it can’t afford to keep. Bailey is chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, which held a hearing on the measure Thursday. Also on the committee is Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom of Medina. Tom, a Democrat, supports the measure, giving it a likely majority on the committee. But he said that Bailey will determine if it gets a vote.
The measure passed the state House earlier this month with bipartisan support.
Bailey did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
February 15, 2013 at 9:08 AM
Tuition rates for international students attending Washington’s state universities would increase by 20 percent if state Senate moves forward with a bill proposed by Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina. Tom intends the tuition increase to go toward Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program, which is in need of additional funding.
Tom argued that the bill isn’t an attack on international students, but rather is more of a recognition that foreigners attending state universities are using public programs that they haven’t supported with taxes. Several representatives from Washington universities and student governments testified about the proposal Thursday before the Senate Higher Education Committee, but none supported it.
Angie Weiss, who represents the Associated Students of the University of Washington, said she’s glad Tom is looking for ways to fund GET, but international students shouldn’t be paying for a program they don’t use. She also expressed concern that international students might avoid Washington universities if their tuition is increased by such a significant amount.
“We would like to find a different way for [international students] to contribute,” Weiss said. “And we would like to find a different way to find the GET program.”
International students make up about 6 percent of Washington State University’s student body. But Tristan Hanon, an Associated Students of Washington State University representative, said their presence is greatly valued on campus. He said international students teach Washington residents to be global citizens and encourage them to explore study abroad opportunities. Hanon recently studied in England at the urging of a European friend.
University administrations are also wary of the tuition increase. University of Washington lobbyist Margaret Shepherd said UW officials worry the draft bill could lead to a sharp decrease in international student enrollment if enacted. International students make up about 10 percent of the university’s undergraduate population and about 14 percent of the graduate student population
January 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. NBC and the Wall Street Journal took the opportunity to offer a poll that shows a new majority now favors abortion. The poll is interesting, because poll numbers on this topic have been bopping around in recent years. Take a look.
Joe Biden and 2016. One natural way to amuse oneself during a long day of inaugural festivities is to ask: Is Joe Biden having such a good time that he is running for president in 2016? That’s what roughly half the crowd was wondering this week.
What do you think? Look at that expression.
Guns and Congress: There has been talk that some Democratic members of Congress might be soft or softening on gun legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Senate will not duck this difficult issue. Reid did not specifically address the assault weapons ban. He said lawmakers would go deep on the subject. Hard to say what that really means.
Does Rodney Tom match his district? State Sen. Rodney Tom is one of the best-known state lawmakers this session, partly because of his decision to break ranks with his fellow Democrats and join Republicans in forming a leadership arrangement in the Senate, the majority coalition caucus. Democrats are not happy with him. But even critics concede Tom is in sync with his Eastside district on tax increases. PublicCola took a look at voting in the recent election by legislative district and found Tom’s voters agree with him on Tim Eyman’s tax-limitation measures. Sync is sync.
A fee on lobbyists. Once again, state Rep. Jim Moeller of Vancouver is introducing a bill that would slap a fee on lobbyists and politicians — the money would go toward improving the Public Disclosure Commission’s online presence.
The Seattle Times politics team has a new Facebook page, and we are eager for friends and likes.
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