Topic: steve litzow
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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.”
March 6, 2013 at 12:56 PM
OLYMPIA — The state Senate narrowly approved two contentious education policy bills Wednesday after a heated debate.
The bills, to give A-F letter grades to schools and to give principals a veto in teacher placements, are top Republican priorities but are strongly opposed by Democrats.
The letter grades passed 26-23, while the principal veto passed 27-22 — both largely along party lines. State Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, opposed the first bill but supported the second.
The bills, each sponsored by Senate education Chairman Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, will now head to the Democrat-run House, where passage is far less likely.
Senate Bill 5328, the grading bill, is touted as a way to give parents more information and pressure schools to improve. Opponents view it as a dangerous oversimplification.
Senate Bill 5242, the teacher-placement bill, is meant to giving principals more power and prevent poor-performing teachers from being passed from school to school. Opponents say it would making arbitrary personnel moves easier.
Before the final vote, Democrats proposed several amendments to each bill. When those failed, they spoke repeatedly against the proposals.
“Giving letters makes great headlines,” said state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, on the first bill. “It doesn’t actually make great policy.”
“What are we doing here?” asked state Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, on the second bill. “What are we doing here? This is inbalancing the relationship between teachers and their supervisors.”
Echoing a Democratic refrain, Conway added he’s “not willing to support reform bills until we fund our schools.”
State Sen. Steve Hobbs, one of the four Democrats who voted for the bills, said policy changes and funding increases can be achieved.
Republicans said accountability for schools is key.
“We live in a country where anyone willing to work, anyone willing to make sacrifices, can rise from failure and achieve success,” said state Sen. John Smith, R-Colville. “And measuring that success is one of the most victorious and empowering things that a culture can do.”
More floor votes on education policy bills are expected this afternoon.
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.
January 30, 2013 at 8:54 PM
OLYMPIA — A state Senate committee heard testimony Wednesday about a trio of bills that would shake up public education in Washington state.
The bills, a mix of specific policies and broader accountability measures, were the first significant education measures introduced this session by Republican lawmakers, who — for the first time in many years — control an education committee .
In a two-hour hearing, the measure received praise from those advocating change, while some some teachers-union and school officials mostly criticized them.
Senate Bill 5237 would prohibit most third graders from advancing to fourth grade until they pass the state reading test; Senate Bill 5328 would give a letter grade to all schools and reward the ‘A’ earners; and Senate Bill 5329 would group schools that score the lowest on standardized tests into a special school district run by the state.
“We’re failing 18,000 kids a year, and they are disproportionately poor children of color,” said committee chairman Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, referring to the number of students who fail to graduate high school each year. “We have to do something.”
Supporters described the measures as common-sense approaches that would spur improvements by holding schools more accountable and giving more information to parents.
“We grade our students. Why not grade our schools?” said Dave Powell, a lobbyist for Stand for Children. “Honestly, what are we afraid of?”
Opponents said the bills were rife were logistical problems and would rely too much on test scores.
Marie Sullivan of the Washington State School Directors Association, a group representing school board members, said bills ”shaming and blaming schools” would be counterproductive.
Most of all, opponents argued that a recent state Supreme Court decision mandates that lawmakers more fully fund education — before seeking to reform it.
“It needs to be a two-way accountability system, and it’s your turn,” said Wendy Rader-Konofalsk, a teachers union lobbyist.
January 28, 2013 at 1:31 PM
This post has been updated to reflect a pending amendment to the bill and to include a comment from House education committee Chairwoman Sharon Tomiko Santos.
Republicans in the state Senate introduced a bill Monday morning that would assign a letter grade — A, B, C, D or F — to each public school based on the performance of its students on standardized test and other measures.
Schools that earn “A” grades would be eligible for teacher bonuses and get more control over the money the state allocates to them.
The original version of the bill would exempt charter schools and alternative schools from the grading unless they opt in. But the sponsors have since introduced an amended version that would include charters and alternative schools in all cases.
Senate Bill 5328 would peg most of the grade to an accountability index of test scores, achievement gaps and more, developed by the state board of education and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. High schools also would be graded by graduation rate, SAT scores and AP course participation.
The bill is sponsored by Senate education Chairman Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.
State Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, a Enumclaw Republican who serves as ranking member on the House education committee, discussed the idea this weekend at an annual Republican Party conference.
“We need parents at home to understand what their school is doing,” Dahlquist told attendees at the Roanoke Conference. “I want parents to know, hey, my school is a C- but the school across the way is a B+. What are they doing different? I want it to be driven at the grassroots level, I want them to be questioning, and I want improvement to happen there.”
The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate on Wednesday.
The chairwoman of the House education committee, Sharon Tomiko Santos, said she hasn’t yet read the bill.
“At this point, I will be keeping an open mind,” said Santos, D-Seattle. “I look forward to the discussion we’ll be having when the bill is heard in the Education Committee.”
January 10, 2013 at 8:37 AM
Although Senate Republicans vowed not to get bogged down by social issues in the upcoming legislative session, a big one is primed to smack them in the face.
State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, plans to reintroduce legislation that would require health-insurance plans covering maternity care to also pay for abortions. The Legislature goes into session on Monday.
More interesting, though: The measure, called the Reproductive Parity Act, is co-sponsored by Republican state Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. In addition, Sen. Rodney Tom, who’s expected to be the new Senate Majority Leader starting next week, also supports the measure.
In case you missed the recent political machinations in the Senate, Republicans are expected to take control on Monday with the help of Tom, D-Medina, and Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, who will caucus with the GOP.
Under this arrangement, Tom will get the top spot as majority leader. Tom and other members of his caucus have said everyone agreed not to let social issues distract the Legislature from focusing on jobs, education and passing a budget.
This could test that promise. Tom and others downplayed the prospect of discord.
“You are going to see individual members do what they want to do, but what we have said is, we’re not going to let social issues divide our focus,” Tom said. “I’m fully supportive (of the measure) and still will be supportive, but we’ll see how others react to it.”
Litzow took hits during his re-election campaign for voting against the measure last session in the Senate, after it had already passed the House. Litzow says he’s always supported the legislation but voted against it last year, because it got tied up in a complicated procedural move on the Senate floor when the GOP took control of the budget.
“This is a bill that I think is important. I’ve supported this bill. I think it’s about reproductive justice,” he said. “I want to bring the issue up.”
October 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Happy Friday, Everyone
The debates: So admit it, you watched both debates. You have no known life. I did, too. Who won the vice-presidential debate? And, if you don’t like that question, Who made the case for the Democratic or Republican ticket? The whole idea of a vice-presidential debate, of course, is to figure out which candidate could serve if something happened to the man at the top of the ticket. So who won? Incumbent vice president, Democrat Joe Biden? Or the new kid, the young buck, Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican, with big ideas for the budget? Some pundits say it was draw. Some say Biden dominated. What did you think?
Moving right along, What about the governor’s debate? Who made the case that he is the right guy to lead the state the next four years? Did either man win/lose any converts in their latest go-round? There were no visible gotcha moments. Some say this debate was low-key compared to the earlier debate in Yakima — and compared to the more feisty veep debate.
The ads, oh my gosh, the ads: We could fill the Politics Northwest briefing all day with the latest ad from the many campaigns. Every candidate or campaign — pro or con — for a ballot measure that isn’t up on the air now is missing a big opportunity. Ballots go out next week.
From Brian M. Rosenthal. You knew this was coming: The Jay Inslee campaign, which for months has been touting the former congressman’s relationship with former President Bill Clinton, is up with an ad featuring the Big Dog. The 30-second spot uses footage from a Clinton-Inslee fundraiser in Seattle last month, which raised about $750,000.
The 41st district Senate race: All of a sudden, the seat currently held by state Sen. Steve Litzow, a moderate Republican from Mercer Island, is supposedly in play. Maureen Judge is the Democratic challenger who is trying to make hay out of a procedural vote that took place the night of the budget coup in Olympia.
Here is her ad:
Litzow, who once served on the political action committee board of the National Abortion Rights Action League, has an entirely different approach to this race.
Here’s his ad. You can pretty much hear the birds chirping.
Speaking of the Legislature: With some significant turnover in Olympia — for example, the top Senate Republican budget writer, Joe Zarelli, has left his job — other folks are vying to move up in the world. State Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond wants to be the next Republican budget lead. “I think I have the right background in education and the right background to go do that job.” On the Democratic side, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown is gone; word has it that state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, might take over her job.
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