NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Big Earth Day victory: 100% clean electricity bill goes to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk

Today, an important bill championed by NPI’s Gael Tarleton to transition Washington State to a one hundred percent clean electric grid left the Legislature after the Senate concurred with recent amendments made by the House.

As a consequence, Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5116 is now on its way to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk to be signed into law. This crucial legislation puts Washington on a path to a clean energy future by requiring utilities to phase out coal by 2025, be pollution neutral by 2030, and generate one hundred percent of their retail electric load using clean energy by 2045.

Vox’s David Roberts argued in a recent post lauding the bill that E2SSB 5116 is superior to similar bills in other states because it changes the regulatory environment for utilities instead of merely setting clean energy targets.

“It aligns the interests of utilities, energy developers, and unions behind the project of equitable [reduction of pollution],” Roberts wrote, noting it’s a big step forward for the state. “They all benefit from it. That makes them allies in the fight, rather than at loggerheads, as they have so often been in the past.”

Inslee — who is running for President on a platform of addressing and reversing damage to our climate caused by runaway pollution — cheered the news.

“On this Earth Day, I couldn’t be more proud of the Legislature’s action to pass the country’s most forward looking clean energy bill,” said Inslee.

“There are a number of other meaningful climate bills moving forward this legislative session, but more than any other, this bill will fundamentally transform Washington’s energy future and transition us to 100 percent clean energy.”

“I look forward to signing this legislation and I thank Senators Carlyle, Palumbo and Billig, and Representatives Tarleton and Fitzgibbon for their remarkable leadership,” the Governor added.

The vote in the Senate to concur in the House amendments was twenty-nine to twenty. All the Democrats voted aye and they were joined by Republican Tim Sheldon, who calls himself a Democrat, but caucuses with the Republicans.

Roll Call
SB 5116
Clean energy
Final Passage as Amended by the House
4/22/2019

Yeas: 29; Nays: 20

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Das, Dhingra, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, McCoy, Mullet, Nguyen, Palumbo, Pedersen, Randall, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Sheldon, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman, Wilson (Claire)

Voting Nay: Senators Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Hawkins, Holy, Honeyford, King, O’Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson (Lynda), Zeiger

We are so proud of the work that our founding boardmember Gael Tarleton put into this bill. She worked really, really hard to deliver this much-needed legislation for all Washington communities, and deserves a hearty round of applause.

This is what progress looks like. We’ve just taken another step towards a future where we meet our energy needs more sustainably and responsibly than we have for the past few centuries. Bravo and well done, Washington State Legislature!

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Happy Easter 2019!

Easter floral arrangement

An Easter floral arrangement (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

If you are observing the Easter holiday today, please accept best wishes from all of us at the Northwest Progressive Institute.

Easter is the most significant holy day for Christianity’s many denominations, although not all of them are celebrating it today. Passages like the following excerpt from the Gospel of Luke (24:1-12) are commonly read during Easter services and liturgies as part of Christian communities’ observance of the holiday, as they are considered authoritative accounts of the Easter story by Christians.

At daybreak on the first day of the week
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.
They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb,
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened.

Easter news reads:

Again, Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Washington State House should investigate extremist Matt Shea’s disturbing conduct

This is appalling… but not surprising:

A Washington State Republican politician took part in private discussions with right-wing figures about carrying out surveillance, “psyops” and even violent attacks on perceived political enemies, according to chat records obtained by the Guardian.

That Republican politician is Matt Shea, a former United States Army lieutenant who now serves in the Washington State House of Representatives, ostensibly representing the 4th Legislative District — though we don’t think he represents anyone at all given his views and lengthy record of hate speech.

Shea is as extreme as they come. He has admitted to distributing literature associated with the white nationalist Aryan Nations movement calling for the death of non-Christian males who do not follow biblical laws. (Shea’s activities so alarmed the Republican Spokane County Sheriff that the FBI was called in to investigate.)

“You have a sector that is preaching hate and falsehood, then you have a responsibility to shut that down,” Sheriff Knezovich told the Pacific Northwest Inlander. “Matt Shea has a responsibility to shut that down. He feeds the fire.”

Shea and a small group of other militant right wingers want the part of Washington they live in to secede and form a new state called Liberty.

They are obsessed with creating a pseudo-libertarian paradise and wrongly believe that if they could only sever political ties with Western Washington, they would be free to implement their white nationalist agenda. (I say pseudo-libertarian because this society would not be truly libertarian; Shea and his ilk do not believe in reproductive rights or the freedom to marry as true libertarians do.)

Shea — who often speaks at right wing rallies yet declines interviews — is in total agreement with Donald Trump that the mass media are “the enemy of the people”. He frequently denounces people he doesn’t agree with as “Marxists”.

Prior to being profiled by Rolling Stone last year and investigated by the FBI, Shea was involved in supporting the militant group that seized control of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and broke numerous federal laws.

Now The Guardian has obtained evidence that Shea discussed carrying out violent attacks against other people with other extremist right wingers.

“Fist full of hair, and face slam, to a Jersey barrier. Treat em like communist revolutionaries. Then shave her bald with a K-Bar USMC field knife,” wrote Shea pal Jack Robertson in the chat. “Would make good attachment points for hoisting communists up flag poles. Especially the ones with nipple rings. But… if you cinch up zip ties enough, you don’t even NEED nipple rings for hoisting.”

“Shea, the elected Republican legislator, did not demur from any of these suggestions,” reports The Guardian’s Jason Wilson. “He also appeared willing to participate directly in surveillance of activists.”

“In response to a request in the chat for background checks on Spokane residents, Shea volunteered to help, going on to name three individuals – including an organizer for the liberal group Indivisible, and a college professor.”

This disturbing conduct warrants further investigation. The Washington State House should open its own investigation into Matt Shea and his activities. Shea should at least be censured for this conduct and formally reprimanded. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior for a public official. There must be discipline. House leadership cannot look the other way: they must act.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Washington State Senate passes bill ending the personal exemption for MMR vaccine

A provision in state law that allows parents of schoolchildren to opt their kids out of receiving a vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) on so-called personal or philosophical grounds is one step closer to being abolished.

Tonight, after a long, contentious floor debate, the Washington State Senate passed Engrossed House Bill 1638, prime sponsored by Republican Paul Harris.

The bill amends state law to allow schoolchildren and kids in daycare to be exempted from the MMR vaccine for medical or religious reasons only.

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
EHB 1638
Vaccine preventable diseases
3rd Reading & Final Passage as Amended by the Senate
4/17/2019

Yeas: 25; Nays: 22; Excused: 2

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Das, Dhingra, Frockt, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, Mullet, Nguyen, Palumbo, Pedersen, Randall, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman, Wilson (Claire)

Voting Nay: Senators Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Holy, Honeyford, King, O’Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson (Lynda), Zeiger

Excused: Senators Lovelett, McCoy

No Senate Republicans voted for the bill.

Two Democratic senators (Liz Lovelett and John McCoy) missed the vote and one (Bob Hasegawa) voted no. The chamber’s remaining Democrats voted aye.

A recent measles outbreak in Clark County served as the impetus for the bill; Clark County is Representative Harris’ home jurisdiction. The outbreak prompted Governor Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency earlier this year.

According to PBS, Clark County has one of the lowest vaccination rates anywhere: seventy-eight percent, which isn’t high enough to provide effective herd immunity.

“Since January 1st [2019], Public Health has identified seventy confirmed cases and is currently investigating two suspect cases,” Clark County’s official online summary of the investigation states. “Public Health has identified one new location where people may have been exposed to measles.”

“The measles vaccine isn’t perfect, but one dose is ninety-three percent effective at preventing illness,” reads an explanation from Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County’s health officer and Public Health director. “The recommended two doses of the measles vaccine provide even greater protection – ninety-seven percent.”

In approving HB 1638, the Legislature is following in the footsteps of the Left Coast’s largest state, California, which has also struggled with the issue.

Following a big measles outbreak at Disneyland, California lawmakers voted in 2015 to abolish the personal exemption for vaccines in the Golden State.

“Before the change, only ninety percent of California children were vaccinated, which is below the ninety-four percent threshold public health experts say is needed to create community immunity to measles. Now, according to a study released last month, ninety-five percent of California children are vaccinated,” Governing Magazine noted in a 2018 report presciently titled “‘Ripe for an Outbreak’: Vaccine Exemptions Are on the Rise” and written by Mattie Quinn.

Representative Harris has characterized EHB 1638 as “a small step” because it only ends the personal/philosophical exemption for the MMR vaccine.

EHB 1638 now heads back to the Washington State House for final approval because it was modified by the Senate. The Senate’s amendment made the following changes, according to a summary prepared by nonpartisan staff:

  1. Removes the provision allowing a child to be exempt from vaccine requirements if the child has a parent or sibling with a history of immune system problems or an adverse reaction to a particular vaccine.
  2. Removes provisions that exempt individuals from further vaccination if they fail to mount a positive antibody response following a complete vaccine series.
  3. Removes the grandfather clause for high school students who currently hold a personal exemption.

Senate Republicans introduced more than a dozen amendments in an attempt to weaken the bill, but Democrats defeated each and every one of them.

If the House signs off on the Senate’s changes, then EHB 1638 will go to Governor Inslee for bill action. Alternatively, the House can ask the Senate to recede from its amendments. If the Senate refuses, a conference committee would be appointed to produce a final version for each chamber to consider.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Legislation to abolish death penalty won’t get a vote in the Washington State House in 2019

Legislation that would remove Washington’s now-unenforceable death penalty statute from the books will not get a vote in the House of Representatives for the second straight year because of Speaker of the House Frank Chopp’s opposition.

Senate Bill 5339, prime sponsored by Democratic Senator Reuven Carlyle and requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, passed out of the Washington State Senate back in February. It eventually received a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee and then secured a “do pass” recommendation.

After that, the bill landed in the House Rules Committee, where it spent several weeks in limbo before advancing to the floor. Despite getting on the House floor calendar, however, it will not receive a vote, even though House Democrats now wield a large majority of fifty-seven. Sources tell NPI that’s because Chopp is adamantly opposed to the bill and does not want it to pass.

Today was the deadline for policy bills from the opposite chamber to receive consideration. With 5 PM having come and gone, we’re past the point where Senate Bill 5339 is eligible to be considered in 2019 under legislative rules.

Last year, when House Democrats held a slim majority of fifty to forty-eight, Chopp’s public rationale for not holding a vote on abolition (as stated at a town hall in the 43rd District) was that the votes simply didn’t exist to pass the bill.

Although Chopp’s seatmate Senator Pedersen disputed that rationale, Chopp nonetheless stuck to it. Now, however, the caucus has fifty-seven members, which means seven members of the caucus can oppose a bill and it can still pass if the remaining fifty members are present and voting yes.

Support for abolishing the death penalty in Washington State is very high, according to NPI research. Last year, 69% of Washingtonians surveyed told our pollster that they preferred one of three life in prison alternatives to just 24% who said they preferred the death penalty, while 8% said they were not sure.

(Read more about our finding.)

Senate Bill 5339 would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole, which is the alternative endorsed by respondents in our poll.

We’re very disappointed that Senate Bill 5339 isn’t getting a vote in the Washington State House of Representatives this year. However, next year, there will be a new Speaker, and Senate Bill 5339 will carry over to the next session because the 2020 session will be a continuation of the current Legislature.

We will work during the interim to continue building momentum for abolition, keeping in mind that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice, as Theodore Parker and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said.

POSTSCRIPT: McClatchy’s James Drew has filed a story about SB 5339 getting blocked from a vote, in which Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Senator Reuven Carlyle both state (on the record) that there were enough votes to pass it.

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Documentary Review: Robert Reich’s “Inequality for All” is an essential film

Inequality for All is a film based on the work of Robert Reich, a Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

This film predates his other film, 2017’s Saving Capitalism by four years, and while there is some overlap in the films, such as Reich’s explanation of the myth of the “free” market, both are worth seeing for all the information in them.

Some scenes in the film are from Reich’s Berkeley “Wealth and Poverty” class. He tells the students that they will explore three questions over the course of the class: what is happening, why, and if it is a problem.

He explains that some inequality is inevitable under capitalism.

Inequality For All

Inequality For All
Release Year: 2013
Director: Jacob Kornbluth
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Watch the trailer

“The question is not inequality, per se. The question is, when does inequality become a problem? How much inequality can we tolerate and still have an economy that’s working for everyone and still have a democracy that is functioning?” Reich asks.

The film examines some of the data about inequality in the United States, including how the levels of inequality in 2001 just before the Great Recession mirrored the previous peak of inequality in 1928, the year before the start of the Great Depression. Also notable is that in 2012, the richest four hundred Americans had more wealth than half the United States population put together.

Reich explains that household and family spending is seventy percent of the United States economy, and the middle class is the heart of that household and family spending. The middle class is what keeps the economy going.

“There’s no way you can sustain the economy over the long term without a strong and vibrant and growing middle class. Can’t be done,” Reich says.

Unfortunately, the middle class is struggling and has been going downhill for years.

The film then jumps to Seattle, spotlighting local entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Nick Hanauer. Hanauer says he generally makes between $10 and $30 million per year between his various businesses. One makes mattresses and pillows.

“The problem with rising inequality is that fewer and fewer people can afford to buy the products we make,” Hanauer says. (The rich, on their own, don’t provide enough of a market for most American businesses.)

He uses himself as an example. Of course the vast majority of the millions he earns each year is not spent. He says he has “no idea what happens with my money” but he is sure “it isn’t creating any kind of social utility other than a return for me.”

After the film shows multiple news clips with people talking about “job creators,” Hanauer tears into this framing.

“Sometimes we think that this is a debate over facts and figures and data. I think if you believe that, you’re fooling yourself,” he begins.

“When somebody calls themselves a ‘job creator,’ they’re not describing the economy or how the economy works, although that’s what it sounds like. What they’re really doing is making a claim on status, privileges, and power.”

It is customers, he says, who are the real job creators.

“We need to replace trickle-down economics with middle-out economics. And indeed, every place you look on Earth where you find prosperity, you find massive investments in the middle class and the poor, because at the end of the day, they are the true job creators,” Hanauer continued. “The most pro-business thing you can do is to help middle class people thrive.”

The film pivots back to Reich, who explains how, starting in the late 1970s, a gap between productivity and wages, which historically rose together, started to grow. Over the last thirty-plus years, productivity has continued to go up, but wages flat-lined. He attributes this to not just the decline of unions, but two other major underlying issues: globalization and technology.

Contrary to popular belief, he says, globalization and tech have not reduced the number of jobs available to Americans.

These forces have, however, reduced the pay of many Americans, even though costs for goods and services have gone up. So people are working harder and harder and harder, and getting nowhere, Reich says.

He then explains how we don’t have to look to other countries for a model of how to make things better, but rather just look to our own past: the United States in the three decades after World War II.

At that time, the virtuous cycle was in full effect.

The cycle goes like this: increasing productivity leads to increased wages; increased wages mean workers buy more; people buying more leads companies to hire more people; more people working means tax revenues increase; the government then uses these increased revenues to invest more in our society; increased public sector investment allows workers to become better educated, which in turn allows for even more productivity, and the economy expands.

Unfortunately, says Reich, these days many people “buy into the lie [that] ‘government is bad, the market is good. Everything that government does works against you and everything the market does helps you.'” This myth ignores how markets have been rigged and restructured over the last few decades to further enrich those at the top, at the expense of everyone else.

Reich then explains that when the middle class doesn’t share in economic gains, rather than the uplifting virtuous cycle, you get a downward vicious cycle: wages stagnate, meaning workers buy less, then companies downsize and tax revenues decrease, prompting our elected representatives to cut essential public services, workers are then less educated and unemployment rises, and deficits grow.

Sounds pretty familiar, huh?

As if all of this isn’t bad enough, another thing that must be worried about when inequality reaches such high levels is it’s impact on our democracy.

“With money comes the power to control politics,” says Reich, noting how the amount of money going to lobbyists goes up every year.

“It’s not that people are rich,” says Reich, “It’s that they abuse their wealth by lobbying for bailouts and subsidies and taxes that are going to entrench their wealth. That’s the reason why the rules have changed so dramatically.”

For example, the top marginal tax rates used to be much higher.

Under President Eisenhower, a Republican, they were at the highest rate in history, 91%. It was not until Ronald Reagan’s time that rates went below 70%, and now the top rate is only 37%. Capital gains are taxed at an even lower 15%.

Hanauer, a billionaire, says his effective tax rate is only 11%.

“When you give rich business people tax breaks all in the name of job creation, all that really happens is that the fat cats get fatter. And of course that’s what’s happened over the last thirty years.”

There is no single solution to income inequality, Reich says, but because we make the rules of the economy, that means we have the power to change those rules. To counteract the power that those with all the money have, it will just take more effort. “You’ve got to mobilize. You’ve got to organize,” says Reich.

“You’ve got to energize other people.”

The more we can get people to understand this, especially the rich, the more we can impact the government to fix the rules of the game so that they no longer tilt so decidedly in the favor of those that are already rich.

“Inequality for All” ends with footage of that last day of Reich’s class at Berkeley, where he encourages his students that, no matter how enormous the problem is, individuals can have an impact.

“I choose to be here, in this course, because I believe in you,” he says.

Just as I write, in the hopes that it gives people more information and inspires them to take action.

You can watch “Inequality for All” on Netflix or for a fee on YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, or Amazon Prime Video. Reich also maintains an interesting blog, which also has many informative videos if you prefer that to reading his posts, and has an active Facebook presence. I’ve followed him on Facebook for years and find his posts insightful and also grounding in this dystopian age of Trump.

Robert Reich is also the author of numerous books, including “Aftershock”, which is the basis for “Inequality for All.”

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Legislature close to permanently authorizing prepaid postage for ballot return envelopes

Legislation to permanently require that ballot return envelopes include prepaid postage is on the the verge of becoming the law of the land in Washington State after the House of Representatives took action tonight on Senator Joe Nguyen’s Substitute Senate Bill 5063, one of NPI’s legislative priorities for 2019.

By a vote of eighty-three to ten, the House sent Nguyen’s bill back to the Senate with amendments for final approval. Most of the chamber’s Republicans joined the House Democratic caucus in supporting the legislation.

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
SB 5063
Ballots, prepaid postage
Final Passage as Amended by the House
4/12/2019

Yeas: 83; Nays: 10; Excused: 5

Voting Yea: Representatives Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Boehnke, Caldier, Callan, Chambers, Chapman, Cody, Corry, Davis, DeBolt, Doglio, Dolan, Entenman, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Gildon, Goehner, Goodman, Graham, Gregerson, Griffey, Harris, Hoff, Hudgins, Irwin, Jinkins, Kilduff, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Kretz, Leavitt, Lekanoff, Lovick, MacEwen, Macri, Maycumber, Mead, Morgan, Orcutt, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Ramos, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rude, Ryu, Santos, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stanford, Steele, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Sutherland, Tarleton, Thai, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Walen, Walsh, Wylie, Ybarra, Young, Chopp

Voting Nay: Representatives Chandler, Dent, Dufault, Dye, Eslick, Jenkin, Kraft, McCaslin, Shea, Wilcox

Excused: Representatives Appleton, Hansen, Morris, Mosbrucker, Shewmake

Among the Republicans voting nay was J.T. Wilcox, the leader of the House Republican caucus. Most of Wilcox’s caucus, however, opted to support the bill. Prepaid postage for ballot return envelopes is funded in both the House and Senate versions of the 2019-2021 operating budget; SSB 5063 simply changes the law to make prepaid postage on ballot return envelopes mandatory.

We should have eliminated this barrier to voting years ago. Now it’s finally happening and that’s a relief. This is a nice follow-on to last year’s groundbreaking Access to Democracy package. Hopefully, not needing a stamp to return a ballot will foster participation in this year’s local elections.

In 2015 and 2017, Washington set records for the worst general election voter turnout in state history. We don’t want to do that again in 2019.

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Tim Eyman botches effort to overturn legislator pay increases; blames Kim Wyman

It’s Tim Eyman versus Kim Wyman!

The disgraced initiative promoter has made Washington’s Secretary of State the target of his latest campaign of online harassment after Wyman’s office removed Eyman’s Referendum 80 filing from sos.wa.gov and replaced it with a message saying it and six other identical referenda filed by Eyman were “invalidated”.

Referendum 80 was an attempt to overturn the new salary schedule for legislators and statewide elected officials approved by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. Eyman filed it back on February 6th, 2019 and proceeded to launch a signature drive for it shortly thereafter.

However, subsequent to the filing of Referendum 80, it was discovered that there was an error in the text of the salary schedule the Commission had approved (an incorrect date had been included in the text).

The Code Reviser fixed the error on February 27th, 2019, but Eyman neglected to file a brand new referendum against the corrected salary schedule, figuring Referendum 80 was still a valid ballot measure.

Referendum 80: No longer valid

The message on the Secretary of State’s Referenda page

But it isn’t, and Wyman’s office has apparently now advised Eyman that it won’t accept any petitions for Referendum 80. Eyman claimed that when he inquired about the validity of R-80, he was told: “The Commission’s refiling invalidated these referenda and we are unable to accept signed petition sheets for them.”

Naturally, that response left Eyman spitting mad. He’s asking his followers to barrage Wyman with emails, phone calls, and texts, including at her private (non-official) email address and her personal (non-official) telephone numbers.

Eyman wants Wyman to reverse course and agree to accept petitions for Referendum 80 (presuming he gets enough signatures).

However, if Wyman won’t commit to accepting the R-80 petitions, Eyman said he’ll pull the plug on his signature drive. From his April 10th email:

“[I]f the Secretary of State isn’t going to accept them [the petitions], then it’s not fair for all our supporters to continue to collect signatures. Therefore, we need an answer from her right away. If she says she’ll accept them, we’ll keep working on it. But if she says she won’t, then our supporters shouldn’t continue to collect signatures for a measure the Secretary of State refuses to process.”

Wyman doesn’t actually have a choice in this matter. She can’t accept petitions for Referendum 80 because the underlying salary schedule doesn’t exist anymore… and therefore, by extension, Referendum 80 doesn’t exist anymore either.

Eyman — who considers himself a ballot measure expert and is sometimes incorrectly labeled an “initiative guru” by reporters — should have realized that the withdrawal and republication of the salary schedule by the Commission would automatically necessitate the need for a brand new referendum.

Instead, Eyman made a faulty assumption based on the outcome of litigation surrounding Initiative 1639 (gun responsibility) last year. By his own admission, Eyman figured that since the I-1639 petitions were processed and accepted by the Secretary of State’s office despite printing defects, he didn’t need to start over.

But what Eyman failed to appreciate is that initiatives and referenda are very different. In the case of Initiative 1639, the problem was specific to the petitions; the text had not been correctly transferred onto them. There was no issue with the ballot measure itself. The question was whether the measure’s petitions could be accepted in spite of the petition design and print job having been botched.

The Supreme Court ultimately decided that the petitions shouldn’t be thrown out.

Here we have essentially the reverse situation. It may be that as Tim Eyman claims, he “strictly followed all statutory and constitutional requirements” when printing up petitions for Referendum 80. But whether he did or didn’t is irrelevant, because Referendum 80 was a referendum, not an initiative.

Here, the petitions aren’t the problem… the measure itself is the problem.

Unlike an initiative, a referendum is a vote on an action that has already been taken — usually a bill passed by the Legislature, but in the case of Referendum 80, a salary schedule approved by a constitutionally-mandated citizens’ commission.

Were Referendum 80 to actually appear on the ballot, voters would be considering whether to approve or reject something that no longer exists. And that makes no sense. The corrected salary schedule is the only salary schedule that voters could potentially overturn. For that corrected salary schedule to be subjected to a vote, a referendum would need to be filed against it. That has yet to happen.

As usual, Eyman has only himself to blame. He made a bad assumption and now it appears he’s lost whatever chance he had of forcing a vote on the new salary schedule approved by the Commission. Eyman’s odds to begin with were bad, since he lacked the funds to hire paid petitioners and was trying to qualify Referendum 80 exclusively with volunteer labor supplied by his followers.

Eyman could still attempt to start over, but it would in all likelihood be futile.

The Constitution allots only a three month window for referendum campaigns, and the clock on the corrected salary schedule has been ticking since February 27th. To qualify a new referendum, Eyman would need to gather about 164,264 signatures in the span of about a month, or approximately 32,853 signatures per week.

The only way he could manage that is with paid petitioners.

With Referendum 80 kaput, it appears we can add a new entry to Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart. R-80 is the eleventh Eyman measure that went to the signature gathering stage, but imploded before it could qualify for the ballot.

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Poll Watch: Democratic voters in California offer strong support to Joe Biden

A recent Quinnipiac University poll asked voters in California, the nation’s largest state, about the upcoming Democratic presidential primary.

The poll shows that former Vice President Joe Biden still leads the field, with 26% of Democratic leaning voters supporting his candidacy. He is trailed by Bernie Sanders (18%) and California’s own Senator Kamala Harris (17%).

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren came a distant joint-fourth, with 7% each.

The Quinnipiac researchers also asked voters more in-depth questions about the race: who they thought would be the best leader; who they thought had the best chance of beating Trump; and who had the best policy ideas.

Biden did well in all three categories.

Joe Biden studies the audience at Netroots Nation during his Thursday afternoon keynote. (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

31% and 35% respectively say that he is the best leader and the best candidate for beating Trump. Although more respondents thought that Bernie Sanders had better policy ideas (23% to Biden’s 13%), 52% of voters say it is more important for a candidate to be a good leader than to have good policy ideas.

Biden has is seen as a strong leader by Californians

Biden has not yet declared if he will run for the Democratic nomination, and has recently been rattled by a number of events – most particularly, the op-ed written by Lucy Flores that claimed that Biden’s inappropriate touching of her at a campaign event in 2014 made her feel “uneasy, gross and confused”.

However, the poll showed that California voters don’t seem particularly troubled by the accusations against Biden.

67% of the women surveyed said that the accusations against Biden were not serious – that number among Democrats was almost three quarters.

California will play an instrumental role in the selection of the next Democratic nominee. In 2017 the state decided to move its primary date to the beginning of March, joining seven other states on “Super Tuesday”.

Joe Biden at MLK Day Breakfast

Former Vice President Joe Biden at the National Action Network Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast, where AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley received a labor leader award. (Photo: AFGE, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

In 2016, California held its primaries in June, by which time the most populous state’s votes were largely irrelevant; by June of 2016, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the presumptive nominees.

Moving the primary to Super Tuesday will make competition for California’s over four hundred delegates much fiercer (since 1,885 are needed to win the nomination) and candidates will be likely end up paying much more attention to the specific priorities of Californian voters than they did in 2016.

At the time of the change, the state’s Democratic Party Chair, Eric Baumann, said that California was “the beating heart of the national resistance to Trump” and should “play a pivotal role in selecting a progressive champion” to face Trump in 2020. This early polling suggests that despite his recent rough patch, Joe Biden has a good shot at becoming that progressive champion.

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Tim Eyman stuck in Chapter 11 for now as Judge Barreca orders him to file a budget

Disgraced initiative promoter and serial lawbreaker Tim Eyman will remain in Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the time being despite his desire to dismiss the case, United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Marc Barreca has decided.

In a hearing this morning, Barreca heard arguments from Eyman’s attorney Larry Feinstein in favor of dismissing the case and from state attorney Susan Edison in favor of converting the case to a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy.

But instead of granting either motion, Barreca decided to keep Eyman in Chapter 11, ordering him to file monthly expenditure projections for a seven month period no later than Thursday, April 25th, 2019, and then, beginning in May of 2019, file a budget to actuals comparative analysis to accompany his monthly reports.

Judge Barreca's order setting budget and reporting requirements

“You may not have been ever able to be forced into an involuntary bankruptcy… I mean, the path for that is much more difficult and has a number of determinations involved with it,” Judge Barreca noted in remarks from the bench directed to Tim Eyman and his bankruptcy attorneys from Vortman & Feinstein.

“But once you voluntarily filed [for] bankruptcy, the mere fact that the bankruptcy isn’t really doing what you hoped it would do for the debtor isn’t of itself grounds for backing out of it,” the judge explained to Eyman’s camp.

While Barreca denied Eyman the exit from bankruptcy he and his attorneys had sought, Eyman did avoid — for now — the conversion of his case into a Chapter 7, which is commonly known as a liquidation bankruptcy.

“The State has not met its burden of showing that there’s been such excessive mismanagement by the debtor or substantial or continuing loss to the estate that conversion is warranted,” Barreca declared in subsequent comments.

“I will therefore deny the [State’s] motion to convert, but without prejudice to a motion based on debtor’s future conduct in the case.”

“However, to avoid future misuse of funds and to allow the parties to assess the reasonableness of expenditures, I will require the debtor to file monthly budget projections and to report against those projections.”

Barreca went on to explain that Tim Eyman doesn’t have to guess what his income from gifts and donations from his friends might be, but he does need to estimate what his monthly expenses will be as part of that budget. As mentioned, it must cover a period of approximately six months, spanning the latter half of 2019.

Despite denying the State’s motion to convert, Barreca expressed uneasiness with Eyman’s monthly cash burn rate, which was in excess of $14,000 a month between the end of November 2018 and the end of February 2019.

“I am concerned that Mr. Eyman does not understand that his spending habits require restraint during the pendency of the case,” Barreca said.

The judge then offered an aside: “Regardless of how much influence he [Tim] has, if community property — which is property of the estate — is being expended, that would mean that other family members that are spending community property need to exercise restraint during the pendency of the case as well.”

Barreca’s decision means that Eyman’s bankruptcy will continue for the indefinite future. Eyman is currently fighting legal battles on three separate fronts:

  • He is contesting a charge of misdemeanor theft by the City of Lacey after he was caught on video stealing a chair from Office Depot;
  • He is a defendant in multiple actions pending in Thurston County Superior Court due to his campaign finance violations;
  • And his estate is now under the jurisdiction of the United States Bankruptcy Court for Western Washington due to his decision to file for Chapter 11.

To our knowledge, Eyman has not commented on today’s developments in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. He has instead been asking his followers to contact Secretary of State Kim Wyman to complain after Wyman’s office indicated it would not accept signatures for Referendum 80, Eyman’s latest scheme, which is an attempt to void pay increases for Washington’s elected officials approved by a citizens’ commission.

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Bill requiring a clean electric grid clears Washington State House, returns to Senate

Landmark legislation that would commit Washington State to a renewable energy future is one step closer to reaching Governor Jay Inslee’s desk.

The Washington State House of Representatives voted mostly along party lines today to advance E2SSB 5116, prime sponsored by Senator Reuven Carlyle and requested by Inslee. E2SSB 5116 previously passed the Senate on March 1st, but it now heads back there because it was changed by the House.

This groundbreaking legislation, championed by NPI’s Gael Tarleton, requires utilities to obtain one hundred percent of their electricity from non-polluting energy sources by 2045 and phase out the use of coal from the electric grid by 2025. Utilities would also need to eighty percent pollution-free by 2030.

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
SB 5116
Clean energy
Final Passage as Amended by the House
4/11/2019

Yeas: 56; Nays: 42

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Bergquist, Callan, Chapman, Cody, Davis, Doglio, Dolan, Entenman, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Gregerson, Hansen, Hudgins, Jinkins, Kilduff, Kirby, Kloba, Leavitt, Lekanoff, Lovick, Macri, Mead, Morgan, Morris, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Ramos, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Ryu, Santos, Sells, Senn, Shewmake, Slatter, Springer, Stanford, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Thai, Tharinger, Valdez, Walen, Wylie, Chopp

Voting Nay: Representatives Barkis, Blake, Boehnke, Caldier, Chambers, Chandler, Corry, DeBolt, Dent, Dufault, Dye, Eslick, Gildon, Goehner, Graham, Griffey, Harris, Hoff, Irwin, Jenkin, Klippert, Kraft, Kretz, MacEwen, Maycumber, McCaslin, Mosbrucker, Orcutt, Rude, Schmick, Shea, Smith, Steele, Stokesbary, Sutherland, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Ybarra, Young

Democratic Representative Brian Blake voted with all forty-one Republicans to oppose the bill, breaking with his fellow fifty-six Democrats.

“It’s time to move past the era of carbon into the next generation with modern, twenty-first century energy systems using integrated wind, hydro and solar power,” said Carlyle, Chair of the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. “At a time when the federal government has functionally imploded on addressing climate change, the states are now taking the lead and moving forward.”

“Moving away from fossil fuels has to start somewhere, so why not here?” asked NPI’s Gael Tarleton, Chair of the House Finance Committee. “Washington has the courage to build a twenty-first century economy beyond coal, beyond fossil fuels, to maintain and build a quality of life for generations to come. Thank you to Senator Carlyle and my colleagues for having the courage to make this choice.”

“Washington’s future will be a lot brighter with the passage of the one hundred percent clean electricity bill,” said Bruce Speight of Environment Washington. “Every day, we see more evidence that a society powered by renewable energy is within our reach. The passage of this bill puts us one step closer to that reality while making the Evergreen State a cleaner and healthier place to live.”

“Unlike the Senate version, the House requires utilities to transition to one hundred percent clean electricity rather than just setting a goal,” Speight noted. “We are also grateful it removes an exemption for a fossil natural gas plant in Clark County.”

NPI congratulates our founding boardmember Gael Tarleton, Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, and House Democrats on today’s passage of E2SSB 5116. It’s delightful to see a good bill like this get stronger as it moves through the legislative process instead of weaker. This is truly a bill that recognizes that we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, but rather borrow it from our children.

We can’t continue to ignore climate science and allow our air and water to become more polluted. We’ve got to act to safeguard our future. Everyone benefits from clean energy… everyone. We’ll continue to support E2SSB 5116 as it returns to the Senate on the final stage of its journey to Governor Inslee’s desk.

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

VICTORY! U.S. House of Representatives finally votes to restore net neutrality

Take that, Ajit Pai!

The US House of Representatives today voted to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules, approving a bill that would reverse the Trump-era FCC’s repeal of rules that formerly prohibited blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. The vote was 232-190, with 231 Democrats and one Republican supporting the bill, and 190 Republicans voting against it. Four Democrats and six Republicans did not vote.

Mitch McConnell (who has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from companies like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T) has already declared the legislation “dead on arrival” in the Senate, to the surprise of pretty much nobody. Even if the Senate were to pass the bill, Trump would veto it.

The soonest a net neutrality bill could be signed into law is 2021, assuming Republicans lose control of the Senate and the White House.

Still, today’s action by the House is historic and significant. Republicans had controlled the House going all the way back to January of 2011 before the beginning of this year, and had stymied Internet freedom bills from being considered at all. This vote marks the first time the House of Representatives (now under Democratic management) has taken a stand on net neutrality.

“Net neutrality is a bipartisan priority for the American people,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “As Mr. Chairman Doyle said, a full eighty-six percent oppose the Trump assault on net neutrality, including eighty-two percent of Republicans, outside.

“Young people, in particular, get it. This is about their jobs and their futures.”

“With the Save The Internet Act, Democrats are honoring the will of the American people. We are restoring protections so we can stop unjust discriminatory practices by ISPs — that would be Internet Service Providers — that try to throttle consumers’ browsing speed, block their internet access and increase their costs. Throttle their speed, block their access, increase their cost.”

“Supporting this bill means supporting our democracy, ensuring that our voices – the voices of the public are heard, that their will is respected and that the internet remains free and open to all,” Pelosi added.

The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was a party line vote, as follows:

Voting Aye: Democratic Representatives Susan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, Denny Heck (WA), Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader (OR)

Voting Nay: Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Greg Walden (OR), Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher (ID), Greg Gianforte (MT), Don Young (AK)

No Democrats voted against the bill, although four missed the vote. One Republican (just one!) courageously voted for it: Bill Posey of Florida.

Posey has not, as far as we can tell, issued a statement explaining his vote, although he has offered open minded comments in past messages to constituents, including this one shared and discussed on Reddit.

Posey’s aye makes H.R. 1644 bipartisan legislation (it only takes one!) We congratulate the House of Representatives on passage of this much-needed bill, and look forward to seeing it pass again in the next Congress when there are hopefully pro-Net Neutrality majorities in both chambers.

Monday, April 8th, 2019

Hilary Franz to deliver opening address at NPI’s 2019 Spring Fundraising Gala in Renton

Spring is in full swing and so are plans for our eleventh Spring Fundraising Gala, which will take place on Friday, April 26th, 2019 in Renton. With the big evening quickly approaching, we are delighted to announce that Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz will deliver the opening address at this year’s gala.

Hilary Franz has led Washington’s Department of Natural Resources since January 2017, when she succeeded Okanogan rancher and molecular biologist Peter Goldmark. She is the state’s fourteenth Commissioner of Public Lands.

A native Cascadian, Franz has been committed to the work of building a more sustainable region for decades. She has extensive experience in both the nonprofit sector (with organizations like Futurewise, Washington Environmental Council, and Conservation Northwest) as well as the public sector (as a Bainbridge Island City Councilmember and a member of numerous boards and commissions).

As Commissioner of Public Lands, she has been an outspoken advocate of increased funding for geologic hazards research and firefighting readiness.

Hilary Franz talks about landslide safety

Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz emphasizes the importance of funding geologic hazards research at an event in the Capitol State Forest (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Only a few hours ago, Commissioner Franz testified before the Washington State Senate’s Ways & Means Committee in support of a bill (Senate Bill 5996) that would establish a dedicated source of revenue for combating wildfires and equipping firefighters with essential tools needed to keep communities safe.

“Our firefighters and scientists have given us the blueprint to tackle our wildfire and forest health crisis, now it’s time for us to give them what they need to get the job done,” said Commissioner Franz. “Wildfire affects us all… we must all do our part.”

Commissioner Franz has always felt a close connection to the land. Her family has owned farmland in Pierce County since the 1930s, and she has been raising three sons on a historic farm on Bainbridge Island for almost twenty years. We deeply appreciate her passion for environmental protection and sustainable farming, and we’re very happy to have her as part of this year’s speaking program.

Commissioner Franz joins a diverse, dynamic lineup of speakers at this year’s gala.

Our reception host will be Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta, a champion of working people who was elected along with three other progressive candidates (the Burien Fantastic Four) in the fiercely contested local elections of 2017.

Our master of ceremonies (session scheduling permitting) will be Senator Manka Dhingra, a trailblazing lawmaker who serves on the board of NPI’s new charitable sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation.

And we will be presenting El Centro de la Raza’s Estela Ortega with a Lynn Allen Award for indispensable contributions to progressive causes.

We’re biased, of course, but we think this is one of the best speaking programs we’ve ever put together. We hope you’ll consider joining us on April 26th. If you haven’t yet bought your ticket yet, we urge you to do so now.

A household ticket admits all the members of an immediate family and is a good value if you plan to attend with your spouse or children. (The gala is a family-friendly event, and young people of all ages are welcome!).

These are our ticket rates:

  • Individual ($75, admits one person)
  • Household ($125, admits an entire family)
  • Living Lightly ($25, for students and activists on limited incomes)

Here are the details for this year’s gala:

  • What: NPI’s 2019 Spring Fundraising Gala
  • Where: Renton Community Center
  • When: Friday, April 26th, 2019 | Reception at 5:30 PM; program at 7 PM
  • Who: Join the NPI team, Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta, State Senator Manka Dhingra, author Mike Lux, and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz
  • Why: Because an effective resistance needs organizations testing progressive ideas and building permanent infrastructure

Be inspired to continue working for a progressive future for our region and country: join us this Friday, April 26th at the Renton Community Center! Follow this link to securely buy your individual, household, or living lightly ticket.

We hope you’ll help us make our biggest event of the year a success by buying your ticket and joining us in Renton at the end of the month.

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Washington State Democrats to allocate 2020 national delegates with a presidential primary

For the first time in its history, the Washington State Democratic Party has decided to use a presidential primary to allocate the delegates it sends to the quadrennial Democratic National Convention, where the party’s candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are formally nominated.

The party’s governing Central Committee voted overwhelmingly today at a meeting in Pasco to adopt a Delegate Selection Plan that utilizes the state-run primary scheduled to be held on March 10th, 2020, to be followed by caucuses and conventions at four levels for the purposes of delegate selection and partybuilding, including the adoption of platform and resolutions.

(As a veteran member of the WSDCC, representing the 45th District, I participated in the vote, and proudly supported the presidential primary option.)

While Washington has for decades had a law providing for a presidential primary to be held every four years, the Washington State Democratic Party has never used the results of that primary to allocate its national delegates.

That will change in 2020.

“Democrats in Washington are ready for the big show in 2020,” said Tina Podlodowski, Chair of the Washington State Democrats. “We look forward to more Presidential candidate attention and visits, increasing voter and activist engagement, and lifting up Democrats at all levels on the 2020 ballot.”

The party’s historic vote in favor of a primary was made possible thanks to the Legislature’s recent passage of ESB 5273, prime sponsored by Senator Sam Hunt, which NPI enthusiastically worked to pass. ESB 5273 modified Washington’s presidential primary law to make it complaint with DNC rules and ensure that the Democratic Party’s First Amendment rights of free assembly were respected.

ESB 5273 — which Governor Inslee has signed — is slated to take effect this July.

With the bill having become session law, the stage was set for a real debate in Pasco among the party’s one hundred and fifty plus member central committee.

After an extensive, lively discussion which remained civil throughout, the party held a roll call vote, similar to those held in the Washington State Senate, on the question of whether to retain precinct caucuses for delegate allocation or switch to a primary while continuing to use caucuses and conventions at four higher levels for delegate selection and partybuilding.

The results were as follows:

  • For a presidential primary: 121 (one hundred and twenty-one members)
  • For precinct caucuses: 40 (forty members)
  • Abstaining: 8 (eight members)
  • Not voting: 10 (ten members)
  • Vacant positions on the WSDCC: 8 (eight positions)

Of the one hundred and sixty-nine members present and voting, about seventy-one percent selected the primary-caucus hybrid plan, which was presented as the majority report of the Rules Committee. Less than twenty-four percent voted for the caucus-only plan calling for presidential precinct caucuses, which the party has been using for decades to allocate national convention delegates.

Prior to its meeting in Pasco, the party put the two dueling plans up for a vote on a website, waelectioncenter.com, where anyone could leave a comment and voice an opinion on whether the party should utilize a state-run presidential primary in 2020 or use presidential precinct caucuses to allocate its national delegates.

More than ninety percent of the more than 13,000 individuals who participated asked the party to embrace a state-run presidential primary for 2020.

Today, the WSDCC demonstrated it is listening, with nearly three out of every four members backing the historic proposal to commit the party to a primary.

The party’s draft Delegate Selection and Affirmative Action Plan will soon be sent to the Democratic National Committee for final approval. If the DNC signs off, the plan will become official. It calls for nominating events on the following dates:

  • Presidential Primary: Tuesday, March 10th (ballots mailed in February)
  • Legislative District Caucuses: Sunday, April 26th, at 1 PM
  • County Conventions: Sunday, May 3rd at 1 PM
  • Congressional District Caucuses: May 30th (time to be determined)
  • State Convention: June 12th-14th (Friday-Sunday in Tacoma)

The Democratic Party of Oregon and the Idaho Democratic Party are also planning to use presidential primaries to allocate their 2020 national convention delegates. Oregon has long made use of a primary, while Idaho has traditionally used caucuses and will be making the switch just like Washington.