Monday, January 31, 2011

Senate Committee Considers An Unfriendly Little Bill

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, the State Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee will have a public hearing on SB 5274, an unfriendly little bill aimed as silencing agencies that provide abortion alternatives in Washington.  You can attend this hearing, or write an email, or make a call expressing your opinion.

Committee members are:
Keiser, Karen (D) Chair
(360) 786-7664
Conway, Steve (D) Vice Chair
(360) 786-7656
Becker, Randi (R) *
(360) 786-7602
Carrell, Mike (R)
(360) 786-7654
Kline, Adam (D)
(360) 786-7688
Murray, Ed (D)
(360) 786-7628
Parlette, Linda Evans (R)
(360) 786-7622
Pflug, Cheryl (R)
(360) 786-7608
Pridemore, Craig (D)
(360) 786-7696
*Ranking Minority Member 

Please include a "thank you" to Senator Randi Becker, who wrote to me that she will not support this bill.  She values the role of pregnancy centers in our communities.

Keep up to date on this issue by visiting

The following info came from Doddie Honrud of the Whatcom County Pregnancy Clinic, one of the worthy agencies being bullied by this bill:

A federal judge in Maryland struck down a law very similar to the one we are fighting in Washington State. The judge held that requiring life-affirming pregnancy centers to post notices of what they do NOT do violates their freedom of speech because it mandates the inclusion of a government message concurrent, and intertwined with, [their] delivery of fully protected speech.

The bill we are fighting in Washington State also requires Pregnancy Centers to post a disclaimer that says the centers do not provide abortions or “comprehensive birth control information” and do they provide referrals to those who do, nor do they provide medical care for pregnant women (EVEN if they actually DO provide medical care for pregnant women). This bill imposes severe litigation penalties to life-affirming pregnancy centers, stating that any aggrieved person or entity can bring a suite in the superior court for triple damages, fines and lawyer fees.

This bill singles out ONLY pregnancy centers that do not perform or refer for abortions. Find out more at

We are encouraged by the decision in Maryland….but we must remain vigilant. The bill in Washington could pass if we do not speak up.
We Need Your Help!

Come to the Senate Hearing – Feb 2nd 8am Cherberg Building. Room 4 – make sure to sign in and check “con” to oppose the bill.

Contact your legislator 1-800-562-6000 -  let them know you oppose House Bill 1366 and Senate Bill 5274 – (We recommend a “thank you for standing with life & pregnancy centers” message to pro-life candidates)

Pray: In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him. Prov 21:1

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Idiots with Nice Wardrobes

In response to one of my blog posts, a friend wrote, "I like that YOU went right to THE source in this case. On another related note, did you see that there are still some idiots in the STATE legislature that are STILL advocating new programs with the commensurate addition in spending?"  (Thanks, Martin!)

Yes, I did see what "the idiots" are doing.  It reminds me of one of my college roommates, actually.  She opened her first checking account, then used all her checks without money in the bank to cover them.  In her excitement over the "freedom" to buy things, she lost sight of common sense.  The experience gave her a terrific wardrobe, and a load of bank penalties and debt. 

Doesn't that sort of sound like our state and federal governments?  They've bought really cool wardrobes, but there's no cash to back it up, no priorities that make sense.  (Anyone else bothered by stamped concrete highway art while we're cutting basic services?)

Both Washingtons make promises they can't keep.   We're overextended.  We've added massive liabilities (see the Washington Policy Center's Total Debt Scorecard).

Savvy citizens need to tell the government to stop being idiots with our money.

It's time to cut, tighten our belts, and then cut again. Let's make a fuss about this.  Tell your state and federal elected officials you will follow their votes.  You're going to hold them accountable.  Vote out people who don't listen.

Do this, or instead of having a nice wardrobe yourself, you'll be paying for someone else's mighty fine gear. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Protect Women - Protest the Pregnancy Center Bills

The State Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee has a public hearing on the bill attacking pregnancy centers at 8 a.m. on February 2.  Please contact the committee members with your comments as soon as possible.  The goal: To get the committee to either take no action on the bill, or to reject it outright.

This website keeps tabs on both the House and Senate versions of the bill:  I recommend you follow the issue via their website for the latest and most up-to-date details.

Not yet feeling enough outrage about this issue?  Consider these facts about the pregnancy centers being attacked by Planned Parenthood and its supporters:

  • they already advertise openly and honestly that they provide abortion alternatives, offering true choices to women;

  • they provide connections for women making tough decisions, and help for all of them, regardless of their choice.

Planned Parenthood shuns the label of "abortion provider," claiming they offer choices to women.  But 2004 statistics show that for every 180 abortions performed, they referred one woman for adoption services.  It would appear women get pretty limited choices when they go to Planned Parenthood for help.

And finally, read this column by Michelle Malkin.  Abortion clinics routinely get special treatment under the law, even when it puts women in danger. 

In Washington State, for example, abortion clinics need only be inspected by other abortion providing agencies, not by the Department of Health or any other independent agency, according to this article and the Washington Administrative Code.  

Sounds pretty convenient... for the abortion agencies.  Once again, women's safety seems to take a backseat.

Wasn't Roe v. Wade supposedly about making sure women had access to safe, legal abortions?  Hmm.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Results of the Pregnancy Center Bill Hearing

Hundreds of people tried to attend yesterday's public hearing in Olympia on HB 1366, one of the bills attacking pregnancy centers.  An exact head count was unavailable, but people packed the committee room and the hallways nearby, according to Jim Morishima, a staff member providing legal counsel to the committee.  He said he didn't know how many represented either side of the issue.

A local activist posted today that people opposing the bill outnumbered those in favor, by about 10-1; but again, there is no official head count.

(For background on this issue, see my blog post, "Attacking a Woman's Right to Choose".)

House Health Care & Wellness Committee Chair, Rep. Eileen Cody (D-34th District), limited the hearing to one hour and asked the crowd to designate representatives to testify (two panels of people in favor, two panels opposed).  No action was taken after the public hearing.  HOWEVER, I've heard two things I cannot confirm independently:
  • Rep. Cody may try to vote this out of committee on Friday; and
  • the bill has been or will be amended to exactly match the Senate version, which would move it more quickly through the system.  A check of the bill's history doesn't show this action, but that doesn't mean it isn't in the works.

What's next for the bill?  It could die in committee, which is what it deserves.  The committee could also vote to send it forward to the House of Representatives for consideration.  A third option, very rare, is that the bill would die but then be resurrected and brought out of committee by a majority vote of the House.

Meanwhile, the companion bill in the Senate, SB 5274, may appear on next week's Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee agenda for consideration, but nothing has been set, according to staffer Brittany Yunker.

If you care about this issue, immediately write an email or make phone calls.  Here's how to approach this in both the House and Senate:

The House Version, HB 1366:

To get your opinion on the record, you have three options:
  • Phone the Committee members.  You'll find their contact information here.  Leave a message but they may not be able to get back to you.
  • Email your comments to staff member Jim Morishima at, addressed to the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, and it will get into the official file.

The Senate Version,  SB 5274:

  • Watch for the public hearing announcement.  If there is a hearing you can testify live and in person (or be among the throng of people in the hallway).
  • Phone the committee members.  You'll find their contact information here.  Again, it would be surprising if you got a call back, given the volume of calls they're likely to get.  Do it anyway.
  • Email your comments to staffer Brittany Yunker at, addressed to the committee.  She will route the comments to the members.
Let's keep each other posted on this issue.

Be Savvy About Your Sources

Savvy citizens get their facts straight by being savvy news consumers.  Work in the world of facts, and you are a powerful, effective advocate for the cause you care about.  Work in the world of rumor and innuendo, and you lose credibility and respect.

For example: A local blogger recently blasted Whatcom County Councilwoman Kathy Kershner for voting in FAVOR of sexual assault and domestic violence.  Sounds outrageous, right?  If I didn't already know that she is a compassionate person who supports women's and children's issues, I'd be shocked.  Instead, I got curious.

What really happened? I emailed her and asked.  She said she did vote against a sexual assault and domestic violence services contract, "because we can't afford it."
"You see, last fall, the majority of the council voted to pass a budget that was not balanced and is not sustainable. I voted against that budget. People know that we can't spend more than we are taking in. The council voted to take money from the General Fund and put it back into the Conservation Futures Fund. The domestic violence contract was funded from the General Fund. We can't keep spending money that we don't have."
Call it spin, manipulation, or outright lying: it's everywhere. You've got to be careful not get tangled in its web. You must find reliable sources, and cross-check to keep those sources honest and accountable.

  • Read source documents.  Many documents are online at all levels of government.  Take questions directly to elected officials or their staff, by phone or email.
  • Don't rely on just one blog, one news story, one email, or any Wikipedia article.  (Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, making its value sketchy.)
  • If it sounds outrageous, too good to be true, or if it smells like a rumor, slow down and check facts before you share it.  Is it true?  Is it necessary?
  • Find the info in more than one place, and get different views.  Make sure your cross-references aren't just recirculating the same story, by the same author.
  • Resist the temptation to spread juicy rumors that seem to support what you believe.  Without facts backing you up, you lose credibility and could harm your cause.  
  • Speak out to defend the truth. A rumor left unattended can fester and grow.

Be aware that every source has its bias.  Reporters are just people. Some are better than others at separating their beliefs from their work.  Others publish only what their readers will want to hear.  Think about where you enjoy getting your news, and why that might be.

This Sound Politics blog profiles newspaper readers of various types, in a non-politically-correct fashion:  "Here' s how to keep all that political 'news' in perspective..."  

See anyone you know?  :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Attacking a Woman's Right to Choose

A big bully is trying to intimidate groups that offer abortion alternatives to women, and they're trying to use State law to do it.   Check out House Bill 1366 and Senate Bill 5274.  

The proposed laws would chip away at a woman's true right to choose where she goes for information when she's pregnant.  

The targets: non-profit, non-government-funded pregnancy clinics. They already follow safe and honest practices, yet the proposed law would mire them in red tape to prove it.  The bills don't directly say, "We're trying to shut down you down."  But they are trying to damage the organizations' reputations by implying there is something wrong with them.  They are trying to make it very difficult to continue to operate. 

This is just bullying, plain and simple, backed by a big business with a lot to lose if women choose fewer abortions.  

You see, the sponsors of this bill work closely with Planned Parenthood, which has a stake in women choosing to have abortions.  Although Planned Parenthood has a large following of people who believe it does good work, it's a business first and foremost.

Abortion brings in a tidy sum of money -- up to $950 for early "easy" abortions, according to Planned Parenthood's website.  Even a pro-abortion blogger complained last November about Planned Parenthood's practice of moving into areas where there are established, small abortion clinics, and driving them out of business.  Click here and here to read more.

Our local Whatcom County Pregnancy Clinic is the type of place being bullied. Here are some quick facts:
  • The Clinic openly advertises that it offers abortion alternatives.  
  • Women can get free services (including pregnancy tests and ultrasounds), counseling, and support no matter which decision they make.  
  • Women can make decisions with full information.  
  • If they choose parenting or adoption, the Clinic offers ways to help.
  • Women who have chosen abortion can also find compassionate counseling.

That sounds like true pro-choice, pro-woman behavior to me, and I support it.  

Contact your State Legislators to let them know that Planned Parenthood should stop bullying smaller organizations.  Let's stop these bills from going any further.

The House bill is the subject of a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Monday, January 24, in Olympia.  This is your chance to speak up!  To learn more about what this means, click here.  Please contact your Legislators before Monday, especially if they serve on the committee that holds the hearing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Several Savvy Sites

Here are some good research spots for you to check out, if you're interested in learning more about what the State lawmakers are doing, and what you can do about it:

Need the basics?  Start here!
Look for the PDF booklet to download: "A Student Guide to the Legislature."  It's beginner's info about how the legislature works, designed for teens but useful for adults, too.  We're all learning, right?

Check on your elected officials.
Track elected officials' bills, votes, and schedules!  Here are the ones I'll be following:

Vince Buys, 42nd District Representative

If you don't live in the 42nd District, you can find your elected officials' websites here.

Places to get quick information:
This organization does a great job of following the issues and educating the public.  Check out their many resources.  

This one is new to me but looks promising.  Today's lead post seems to give an unbiased delivery of facts.  Each State has its own blog page, and national issues get attention as well.  Its stated mission:  "Each week we scan political news stories, state legislation, political blogs and forums to gain insight on the most pertinent issues. The Citizen's Report is meant to encourage debate amongst community activists, politicians, lobbyists and readers in order to further the discussion.."

I haven't explored this one yet I expect good things.  It looks like you can find answers or links to answers about a variety of topics, government functions, and
The official Washington State site.  Pretty easy to navigate. 

Tank Up on Your Top Topic

Once you have a top topic, you need to get savvy about it. A good ol' Google search will give you some basic background information, and it might highlight new controversies or trends.  The plan is not to exhaust yourself!  Just learn a little more than you did when you started.

Next I want you to explore what the State legislature is planning to do about the issue (or for it, or to it!). Is there a good idea out there you'd like to support?  Is there a bad one you'd like to holler about? 

The Legislature's own website can help you find out.  It has search engines where you can look for topics and bill numbers, schedules, committee agendas., etc.   But I like another website that seems a little easier to navigate: Washington Votes.

Washington Votes is a non-profit organization. It aims to be a place where savvy citizens tank up on information, to keep government officials accountable.  You can track legislators' votes, bills, and topics under consideration.  You can comment or read others' comments.  I've found it to be extremely useful.

You have three goals today:

  1. Find out if the State is looking at any new legislation (laws or policies) relating to your top topic;
  2. Read summaries of bills that catch your eye; and
  3. Write a list of terms or concepts you don't understand, so you can track down answers later.

Here are some ways to get you started, using the Washington Votes site (which you'll find by clicking here):

  • Read the comments box on the right side of the page; anything catch your eye?
  • Scroll through the "most viewed bills" section. Not every bill is going to go anywhere; but if a bill generates a lot of interest or comment, that could signal it's going to get some traction. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on whether it's a good or bad idea.
  • Use the "look up bills" feature (using your topic or the number assigned to the bill) to see what pops up.
  • Sign up for free email notifications about anything having to do with your topic.  New things are added all the time, so you need help staying informed.

What do you think of the Washington Votes site?  Next time I'll tell you about some other ways to find out more about your top topic, prepping you to be an active savvy citizen.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Be Savvy

I call this blog "The Savvy Citizen" because I want you to be savvy about your power as a citizen, even as I make the journey myself.  "Savvy" means to show understanding, and to be wise about practical matters. And the first thing I want you to be savvy about is this: 

You are a person of influence, and you can make a difference.

"Influence? Me?"

Yeah, you.   Maybe you think reporters, elected officials, corporations, and big-name commentators have lots of influence. You're right! But you have face-to-face connections that they don't: people who know and trust you. Your influence can influence others to use their influence.

Everything you need to become a mover and a shaker is at your fingertips.   

Here's how savvy citizens use their influence, one step at a time:
  1. Care about something.
  2. Do a little learning.
  3. Find your friends.
  4. Share what you learn.
  5. Keep it real.
I'm going to walk you through these steps, focusing on what our State government is doing right now.  So choose one issue for now.  Just one.  Start slowly, if you're new to this savvy citizen thing.  Otherwise you'll burn out. 

There are so many things the State Legislature might touch on, including some of my top issues: adoption, education, homeschooling, open government, ethics, the budget, and voter integrity. I can't cover them all, so I'll have to focus. 

What are your pet issues?  What's your number one? 

In the next post I'll share resources that will help you learn more about your top choice, as we cover Step Two.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Leaving the Shadows

Isn't it time we stopped hiding in the shadows?  I'm talking to people like me, who hold firm convictions and strong opinions, but are afraid to speak out because we might offend someone -- especially those "someones" we love, but who hold opinions different from ours.

For years, first as a journalist and then as Clerk of the Whatcom County Council, I had to be as neutral in my opinions as possible, in fairness to those I served.  As a reporter for The Bellingham Herald, I did not even vote in local elections.  It would have been too tempting to carry my voting preferences into my workaday life.  (However, I did vote regularly in elections from my "home county," Kitsap.)

One of my first actions upon being appointed Clerk of the Whatcom County Council was to switch my voter registration to Whatcom County.  I voted with a clear conscience in local elections,  but still had to be silent about my political inclinations (at the time, liberal & Democrat).  They trusted my advice would not be tainted by political activism.  I owed loyalty to every Council Member, and grew fond of every one of them.  Together we cultivated a culture of openness and transparency that benefited the public as well.

Even after I left that job to focus on my children, I didn't speak out much.  I worried that I would hurt feelings, or offend people that I cared about.  Gradually my political views shifted.  I consider myself to be a conservative, with the Republican Party most closely representing my values.

And now, I can't stay silent anymore.   Perhaps I've been silent too long.

Our State and Nation are on a bad road, influenced less by common sense and more by emotionalism.  Voters are manipulated by groups that shout "freedom" while clamping down on opposing views.  Too many are swayed by the Cult of Cool, rather than by logic and facts, when they decide who they should support.

I want to do my part to turn things around.  This blog is my bold step, carrying my opinions into the public realm.  Issues I'm passionate about:
  • being an informed and active voter;
  • raising the next generation to be informed and active voters; 
  • citizen involvement in local government;
  • open meetings and open public records laws;
  • the integrity of our voting system; and
  • the need to make changes in our government's direction.

Check back often.  Participate in the discussions.  It's time to move out of the shadows, before the shadows overtake us.