Wednesday, March 9, 2011

42nd Dist. Legislators' town hall on Mar. 12

Okay, savvy citizens, it's time to meet the people making decisions for you in Olympia.  Hope to see some of you there!

OLYMPIA… Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Whatcom County, Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Blaine, and Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, will hold a town hall meeting Saturday, March 12 at Lynden Middle School. 
The three 42nd District legislators say they are eager to hear from constituents regarding upcoming legislative action.


Saturday, March 12
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Lynden Middle School auditorium
516 Main Street, Lynden 

"Hot issues die in Legislature" - an explanation

We just passed an important date on the Washington State legislative calendar. It includes Monday's cutoff date, when bills had to have been voted out of their house of origin (either the House of Representatives or the Senate) in order to make it further, unless the bill impacts the budget. 

However, it still pays to keep watch until at least April 12, the 93rd day of the Legislative session, as the website explains:

"After the 93rd day, only initiatives, alternatives to initiatives, budgets and matters necessary to implement budgets, messages pertaining to amendments, differences between the houses, and matters incident to the interim and closing of the session may be considered."

You can read about the legislative process by clicking here.

This article from The Daily Olympian, posted on Washington State Wire, gives an overview of what happened -- and didn't happen -- on Monday:

Hot issues die in Legislature - Under the Dome - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington

Hot issues die in Legislature

DEADLINE: Bills had to be approved in first chamber Monday night

JORDAN SCHRADER; Staff writer | • Published March 08, 2011
There was no debate over abortion or illegal immigration.
No one made fiery speeches about the initiative process.
No outrage was voiced over red-light cameras.
Any of those hot-button issues could have come up on the House or Senate floor this year, but that became much less likely at 5 p.m. Monday when a key deadline came and went.
Although no idea is ever dead in the Legislature beyond the hope of revival, most bills had to be approved by either the House or the Senate by Monday to move forward this year.
Some lawmakers were disappointed. Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, knew she wouldn’t be able to get rid of automatic traffic cameras as she first proposed, but had hoped for some more modest changes in laws governing how cities use the cameras, and had been in talks with GOP Sen. Randi Becker of Eatonville and majority Democrats.
“We thought we had a deal,” Stevens said, “but the clock ran out, and it didn’t pass.”
Opponents of traffic cameras in the House were ready to try to put a host of restrictions on cities wanting to use the cameras, including requiring local voters to sign off.
They would have sought to attach their proposals to a bill Rep. Connie Ladenburg, D-Tacoma, introduced to try to standardize camera use across the state. But Democratic leaders didn’t allow the bill to come to the floor, citing the time-consuming amendments.
“It just kind of got bogged down,” House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said.
Nor did the Democrats who run the Senate allow a floor vote on Becker’s standardization bill, which is similar to Ladenburg’s.
Becker’s bill was also complicated by a disagreement among Senate Republicans over whether one provision in the bill would expand camera use. Stevens thought it would; Becker said it merely standardized practices across cities.
Cities opposed more sweeping changes such as public votes and extra time before lights turn red. Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said cities were trying to protect a “cash-cow program,” but were “cutting off their nose to spite their face” because it’s likely that if the Legislature doesn’t act, some camera opponents will seek to eliminate them via the ballot.

Republicans made a last-minute push to bring a couple of controversial bills to the Senate floor but couldn’t find enough support from Democrats. One of the bills, sponsored by Haugen, would have made drivers give their Social Security numbers or other proof they are in the country legally before they get a driver’s license that can be used as identification – as all but one other state does.
The other would have repealed a year-old rule passed by the Legislature that prevents borrowers from taking out more than eight loans in a year from a payday loan company.
Anti-poverty advocates say the cap on loans protects against predatory lenders, while lawmakers including Rep. Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, say it’s forcing borrowers into an unregulated Internet market.
The procedural questions of whether to take up those bills both failed by two votes.
In the House, lawmakers never took up a bill that could have brought questions of abortion front and center.
Advocates for reproductive and abortion rights backed a bill forcing pregnancy centers run by opponents of abortion to disclose that they don’t provide abortions and other medical services for pregnant women. They say the centers are deceiving women; supporters of the centers say the rules trample on their free speech rights.
Other bills beat the deadline. The Senate voted Monday to allow King County Metro Transit to charge car owners $20 a year for two years to fund threatened bus service, over the objections of Republicans.
Senate Bill 5457 would not apply to Pierce or Snohomish counties, as originally conceived. If it passes the House, approval of the tax would require a two-thirds vote of the King County Council.
Senators also advanced a regulation on eminent domain that has failed to gain traction in the past.

Their goal is to close a door opened six years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the 2005 Kelo v. City of New London (Conn.) decision, the court ruled that governments can condemn property to help a private developer.
In effect, said Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, governments would be saying, “You’re taking good care of your land, but we think somebody else would make us more money with it.”
Under Senate Bill 5077, governments in Washington would be barred from using eminent domain for economic development. The bill passed 45-4 and heads to the House.
Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Democrats seeking campaign advice for 2012

Interesting to read what Democrats are planning for 2012.  Which one is your favorite?

 Senate Democrats seeking campaign advice

The Democratic fundraising arm in the Senate is gearing up for the 2012 elections by soliciting suggestions from their supporters about the slogan they should employ to help keep Republicans from picking up the four seats they need to capture the majority.
In an email entitled, "A slogan that sticks," the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee gives the recipient five choices:
- We've Got Your Back, Barack
- Repeal Republicans in 2012
- Had Enough Tea?
- Brick by Brick, We're Building a Firewall
- Hey GOP? You're Firewalled
The firewall is in reference to the now slim majority the Democrats hold in the Senate, which they said prevents, "radical bills coming from the House side from becoming law."
Democrats point out in their email that they have 23 seats up for grabs in the Senate, while Republicans have just 10 seats to defend, so a Republican takeover is a real threat.
"We can’t let that happen, and a great slogan will help get our message out," the missive says. "Your words could end up on T-shirts, tote bags … the possibilities are endless."
Participants can also write their own slogan if they don't like the five choices.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pro-abortion bill dead, fails to get vote

I just received this email update from Rep. Joe Schmick, the Colfax Republican representing the 9th District in the Washington House of Representatives.  He is the ranking Republican on the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, where HB 1366 had its beginnings; Schmick has opposed it from the start:

I wanted to give you a quick update on HB 1366, the pregnancy resource center's bill.  I am very pleased that with the overwhelming objection of folks from the 9th district and around the state, the measure died.  It was not brought up for a vote by the mandatory cutoff date and time of 5:00 p.m. this evening.  Because there was not a Senate bill that was a companion that passed this session, the issue is dead for this session.

I appreciate your diligence on contacting me and other legislators in opposition to this bill.  I am pleased we were able to show that the pregnancy resource centers offer vital and necessary services; cost nothing to the tax payer and should remain a viable option as a resource for women in the state of Washington.

I appreciate your efforts and support in fighting this legislation.


Joe Schmick
State Representative

I'll follow up tomorrow to get more details; but in the meantime, thanks to all of you who took the time to voice your opinions, to pray, to get educated about this issue.  You made a difference! 

To read more right now, go to:
  Politics Northwest/The Seattle Times
  World News (coverage of this and other related stories)

Petition to end union monopolies in govt.

From the Freedom Foundation March 5, 2011:

Last Saturday, 600 courageous taxpayers gathered in the snow and sub-freezing temperatures in Olympia to support Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s effort to cut spending and rein in the power of government unions. They were there to express hope that our state might follow a similar path—to allow a return to fiscal sanity. (See video of the government rally.)

Speaker after speaker described the union monopoly in Washington state, and how long-term reforms are impossible as long as government unions retain their monopoly over taxpayer dollars. As Freedom Foundation general counsel Mike Reitz said, “Collective bargaining is broken. And if we don’t fix it, it will break our state.”

A few hundred yards away some 2,000 union members and supporters gathered in violation of their rally permit in an attempt to shout down the Freedom Foundation event. They were from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Washington Federation of State Employees, the Service Employees International Union and others. Together, they represented an imposing voice for maintaining the status quo.

The good news is that a few years ago it would have been only the union members on those steps. It was nearly unheard of for hundreds of taxpayers to gather in bad weather on less than a week’s notice to support something being done in a state two thousand miles away. It’s a measure of how far citizens have come in working together to effect change. The bad news is that it still looked a lot like David and Goliath. The government unions are still calling the shots.

That’s why we’re redoubling our efforts at the Freedom Foundation to address the problem of union monopolies and their stranglehold on the state’s finances. We’ve taken on Goliath before, and won a 9-0 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court to protect teachers whose rights were being violated by their union. In fact, several of the laws being proposed by governors like Scott Walker are based on legislation and court decisions we were responsible for.

Because of that experience, other organizations are looking to us for leadership in this effort. Our co-founders, Bob Williams and Lynn Harsh, have recently been on the ground in Wisconsin, Indiana and other states to share the lessons we learned in that ten-year litigation effort. And our staff has been called several times this week by allied organizations around the country who wanted guidance.

We’re glad to share our experiences, and we’re glad to see that other states are working on this issue. But we want change in Washington state too, and we need your help to get it. Those six hundred citizens who gathered in the snow last week need reinforcements. We must reach a much larger group of taxpayers with the truth about what really needs to happen before we can expect to change our state’s habit of overspending and over-regulating. That’s our commitment.

How can you help? Take a moment today to sign our petition, calling on our leaders to enact laws that will shift power away from union lobbyists and back to the people. Then forward it to five other people who understand the need for change.

Nearly one thousand citizens have signed it so far. In the next two weeks we want to send 10,000 signatures to Governor Walker to support him in his fight. We’ll also send them to your state legislators, to let them know how many of you want them to finally deal with this fundamental issue. Will you help us achieve that goal?
Click here to sign the petition, if you're interested.

Thursday, March 3, 2011 ads coming to Seattle area

Here's a great website to help women make informed choices about their pregnancies, and the options available to them:

Starting this week, the national nonprofit Vitae Foundation is sponsoring two, four-week advertising campaigns in Seattle to promote    Ads are going to appear on billboards, buses, and light rail.  

"Women need to know they have several positive options when experiencing an unplanned pregnancy," said Carl Landwehr, Vitae's President.  

He said the website will also promote local pro-life pregnancy centers, such as those under attack in the Washington State Legislature.  "We're thrilled we can play a role in letting women know that pregnancy centers are credible, safe environments where they can get the information they need."

This is empowering information.  Check out the website and see for yourself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The most unsafe place for pregnant women?

A pregnant woman entering a Planned Parenthood clinic is not likely to carry her baby to term.  That sounds pretty harsh, doesn't it?

Yet it's based on these numbers from Planned Parenthood Federation's own 2009 statistics released in February 2011:
  • total number of abortions performed nationally, added to total prenatal patients, and total adoption referral patients combined: 340,276
  • 97.6 percent of that number were abortion procedures (332,278)
  • about two percent of the total were listed as prenatal patients (7,021)
  • and a tiny fraction (way less than one percent) received adoption referrals (977).

Does this make anyone a little uncomfortable?

This doesn't look like what you'd expect from an organization that makes a lot of noise about being pro-choice.  Looks like the choices are pretty one-sided.

How about when you recall that Planned Parenthood and its advocates are trumpeting the "need" to regulate non-profit pro-life pregnancy centers and the message they are delivering?   It's sounding less and less like their motives have anything to do with protecting women, isn't it?

Sounds to me like they could be trying to limit the information women can access.

Sounds to me like they may want to funnel as many women into their doors as possible.

Sounds to me like they could want full control over a woman's choices.

Sounds like women might be safer choosing to go somewhere else when they're pregnant.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Rep. Buys' "well definition" bill passes 97-0

    State Rep. Vincent Buys' first prime-sponsored bill was passed unanimously by the Washington State House of Representatives Feb. 28.

    Here's the story from the House Republicans' website:
    Rep. Vincent Buys’ definition of a ‘well’ bill passes out of Washington State House of Representatives

    Rep. Vincent Buys saw his first prime-sponsored bill, which would clarify the definition of a “well,” pass out of the Washington State House of Representatives on a 97-0 vote today.

    House Bill 1467 would modify the definition of a “well” under the Water Well Construction Act (WWCA). Any device inserted into the soil at less than ten feet to test water quality or soil sample would not be considered a well.

    “Currently, anyone inserting a soil sampler even a couple inches into the soil could be subject to the well permitting process,” said Buys, R-Lynden. “Common sense tells us many holes or divots are not wells.

    “Unfortunately, some in the Department of Ecology think otherwise. This is a concern for the agricultural community. They are afraid simple actions they take on their farms such as checking water tables, measuring moisture or taking groundwater samples could be classified as digging a well and subject to the permit process. This bill would restore a little common sense to our soil sampling and water measuring laws. I dug wells down in Haiti to provide clean water for impoverished communities. I understand what drilling a well is, and digging twelve inches into the soil is not a well.”

    The bill is now headed to the Senate for consideration.
    Buys' farming background helped him spot the well permitting problem.  Under current rules, someone could argue that post holes dug for fencing would require well permits.  Let's hope the Senate shows as much common sense as did the House; and let's also thank Rep. Buys for championing the bill.

    Pro-Abortion terrorist nabbed by FBI

    You don't hear a lot about pro-abortion terrorism.  Sounds naive, I know, but I've just assumed that the pro-abortionists do most of their attacking in the courtroom, in legislative offices, and in the sympathetic press.  They leave the terrorism stuff to misguided pro-lifers who take the law into their own hands.

    Turns out there are acts of pro-abortion terrorism, and folks who promote and carry out violence against pro-lifers.  Some of those receiving threats are here, in Washington State.

    I read this story at the Abortion in Washington site, based on a report posted February 26 (2 days ago) on AOL's Politics Daily:

    Pro-Choice Extremist Reportedly Arrested by FBI for Threats to Pro-Life Activists

    The story is about Theodore Shulman, 49, who has been making threats against pro-life people for years.  I visited a blog operated by a Theodore Shulman, and it does spout a lot of hate speech, and advocates violence against pro-lifers. 

    Apparently Shulman trolls the internet looking for pro-life bloggers, and then posts threatening comments or makes threatening phone calls.  For example, check out what he's done to Abortion in Washington bloggers, as reported on their site: Abortion In Washington: Pro-Abortion Terrorist Who Threatened AIW (Abortion in Washington) Nabbed by FBI.  Google and you'll find other examples.

    Creepy stuff.  But I wondered if the arrest was a true story; after all, this was the first I'd heard about it, and the story is two days old.   

    So I searched the web to see what other mainstream media outlets are carrying this (even Fox News).  I didn't find any mention of it, except for the AOL story, and a lot of pro-life newsies and bloggers repeating it.

    So I checked the Federal Bureau of Prisons website and found that there is an inmate named Theodore Shulman, 49 (federal inmate register number 64781-054) in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. The facility houses pre-trial and holdover inmates.  No other details were available.

    This matters because I'm still concerned that free speech isn't so free when you're talking about pro-life issues.  I'm concerned that the media seems to be ignoring a story that is interesting, alarming, and definitely newsworthy.

    Let's keep an eye on this one.