NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Friday, June 9th, 2023

Second Trump indictment lands, this one from federal charges filed by special counsel

Don­ald Trump has been indicted!

It’s a relief to be able to type those words for a sec­ond time, because it sig­ni­fies that we are still — at least for now — a coun­try where the rule of law means some­thing. Where treach­ery and egre­gious crim­i­nal behav­ior have con­se­quences. And where the pow­er­ful and enti­tled can’t expect to evade accountability.

The indict­ment, charged by a grand jury in Flori­da, con­sists of thir­ty-eight counts brought against Trump and a min­ion, Wal­tine Nauta:

  • Counts 1–31 allege that the defen­dants engaged in the ille­gal, will­ful reten­tion of nation­al defense infor­ma­tion, a vio­la­tion of (18 U.S.C. 793(e).
  • Count 32 alleges a Con­spir­a­cy to Obstruct Jus­tice, (18 U.S.C. § 1512(k)
  • Count 33 alleges that a doc­u­ment or record was ille­gal­ly with­held, in vio­la­tion of (18 U.S.C. 1512(b)(2)(A), 2)
  • Count 34 alleges that the defen­dants cor­rupt­ly con­cealed a doc­u­ment or record, a vio­la­tion of (18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(c)(1),2)
  • Count 35 alleges that the defen­dants know­ing­ly con­cealed a doc­u­ment in a fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion (18 U.S.C. §§ 1519, 2)
  • Count 36 alleges a scheme to con­ceal in vio­la­tion of (18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(1),2)
  • Count 37 alleges false state­ments and rep­re­sen­ta­tions, in vio­la­tion of (18 U.S.C. §§ 1001(a)(2),2)
  • Count 38 alleges more false state­ments and rep­re­sen­ta­tions, in vio­la­tion of (18 U.S.C. § 1001(a) (2))

The indict­ment charges that Trump unlaw­ful­ly took and retained clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion that did not belong to him after exit­ing the White House.

“The clas­si­fied doc­u­ments Trump stored in his box­es includ­ed infor­ma­tion regard­ing defense and weapons capa­bil­i­ties of both the Unit­ed States and for­eign coun­tries; Unit­ed States nuclear pro­grams; poten­tial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of the Unit­ed States and its allies to mil­i­tary attack; and plans for pos­si­ble retal­i­a­tion in response to for­eign attack. The unau­tho­rized dis­clo­sure of these clas­si­fied doc­u­ments could put at risk the nation­al secu­ri­ty of the Unit­ed States, for­eign rela­tions, the safe­ty of the Unit­ed States mil­i­tary, and human sources and the con­tin­ued via­bil­i­ty of sen­si­tive intel­li­gence col­lec­tion meth­ods,” it says.

After it was dis­cov­ered that Trump had stolen clas­si­fied mate­ri­als, he lied about his actions and obstruct­ed the fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s efforts to recov­er the doc­u­ments, because he did­n’t want to give them back.

Trump endeav­ored to obstruct the inves­ti­ga­tion, the indict­ment says, by:

  • sug­gest­ing that his attor­ney false­ly rep­re­sent to the FBI and grand jury that
    Trump did not have doc­u­ments called for by the grand jury subpoena;
  • direct­ing defen­dant Wal­tine Nau­ta to move box­es of doc­u­ments to
    con­ceal them from Trump’s attor­ney, the FBI, and the grand jury;
  • sug­gest­ing that his attor­ney hide or destroy doc­u­ments called for by the
    grand jury subpoena;
  • pro­vid­ing to the FBI and grand jury just some of the doc­u­ments called for by the grand jury sub­poe­na, while claim­ing that he was coop­er­at­ing fully;
  • and caus­ing a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to be sub­mit­ted to the FBI and grand jury falsely
    rep­re­sent­ing that all doc­u­ments called for by the grand jury sub­poe­na had
    been pro­duced while know­ing that, in fact, not all such doc­u­ments had
    been produced.

Remem­ber how Repub­li­cans end­less­ly yelped about Hillary Clin­ton’s email serv­er and argued she should be in prison? Clin­ton’s con­duct was­n’t crim­i­nal, and this con­duct clear­ly is, yet we’re hear­ing very few Repub­li­cans con­demn it. That’s because of the IOKIYAR prin­ci­ple: It’s Okay If You’re A Repub­li­can.

It was okay for Trump to bla­tant­ly, fla­grant­ly vio­late our coun­ty’s laws and then lie about it, because he can do no wrong. Remem­ber when Nixon said, It’s okay if the Pres­i­dent does it? Stick the word Repub­li­can in there and you’ve basi­cal­ly got the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s view­point on this sit­u­a­tion. It would not be okay for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­dent to take clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al to his home, even inad­ver­tent­ly, as Pres­i­dent Joe Biden has dis­closed doing. But it was okay for Trump to. Trump gets a pass. In fact, Kevin McCarthy is even pledg­ing to run inter­fer­ence for him!

The evi­dence in this case is rock sol­id. Spe­cial Coun­sel Jack Smith has dot­ted all of his i’s and crossed all of his t’s. Trump is still enti­tled to the pre­sump­tion of inno­cence like any oth­er Amer­i­can — a right we all enjoy that Trump has failed to respect in the past — but we see no dif­fi­cul­ties for the gov­ern­ment in prov­ing its case. It seems very open and shut. And giv­en that Trump is a patho­log­i­cal liar, his protes­ta­tions about this being a witch hunt and per­se­cu­tion are not credible.

Impor­tant­ly, the indict­ment holds Trump account­able for his own bro­ken promis­es con­cern­ing the respect and rev­er­ence of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, by call­ing atten­tion to many of the occa­sions when Trump spoke about the topic:

As a can­di­date for Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, Trump made the fol­low­ing pub­lic state­ments, among oth­ers, about clas­si­fied information:

a. On August 18, 2016, Trump stat­ed, “In my admin­is­tra­tion I’m going to enforce all laws con­cern­ing the pro­tec­tion of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion. No one will be above the law.”

b. On Sep­tem­ber 6, 2016, Trump stat­ed, “We also need to fight this bat­tle by col­lect­ing intel­li­gence and then pro­tect­ing, pro­tect­ing our clas­si­fied secrets. We can’t have some­one in the Oval Office who does­n’t under­stand the mean­ing of the word con­fi­den­tial or classified.”

c. On Sep­tem­ber 7, 2016 , Trump stat­ed, “[O]ne of the first things we must do is to enforce all clas­si­fi­ca­tion rules and to enforce all laws relat­ing to the han­dling of clas­si­fied information.”

d. On Sep­tem­ber 19, 2016, Trump stat­ed, “We also need the best pro­tec­tion of clas­si­fied information.”

e. On Novem­ber 3, 2016, Trump stat­ed, “Ser­vice mem­bers here in North Car­oli­na have risked their lives to acquire clas­si­fied intel­li­gence to pro­tect our country.”

You can read the full indict­ment here:


More indict­ments are like­ly com­ing. Trump may, by the end of this year, be defend­ing him­self against four sets of crim­i­nal charges in dif­fer­ent juris­dic­tions. All while he’s run­ning for the high­est office in the land. Again.

That’s some­thing he should have been barred from doing by Con­gress, but Mitch McConnell and his Repub­li­can cau­cus refused to have the decen­cy or the sense to put coun­try above par­ty and con­vict Trump of the charges the House impeached him on like they should have — even in the wake of the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion. That mas­sive error in judg­ment will go down near the top of the list of the many bad deci­sions McConnell has made that have hurt this country.

Trump is expect­ed to be arraigned on Tues­day in Mia­mi. He seems to be pin­ing for a repeat of Jan­u­ary 6th, but the FBI, Secret Ser­vice, and local police will be work­ing togeth­er to min­i­mize the pos­si­bil­i­ty of vio­lent conduct.

Friday, June 9th, 2023

Attorney General Bob Ferguson leads 2024 WA gubernatorial field, new NPI poll confirms

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son is the cur­rent fron­trun­ner in the increas­ing­ly crowd­ed con­test to suc­ceed out­go­ing Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee as Wash­ing­ton State’s next chief exec­u­tive, a new poll con­duct­ed this week for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling has confirmed.

25% of 773 respon­dents inter­viewed June 7th and 8th for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute said that they pre­ferred Fer­gu­son for Governor.

17% said they favored Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia. 10% say they’d vote for ultra MAGA Repub­li­can Semi Bird. 9% said they pre­ferred anoth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­tender: Hilary Franz, the cur­rent Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands. Anoth­er 7% back a third Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date, State Sen­a­tor Mark Mullet.

33% of respon­dents said they were not sure.

NPI poll finding: 2024 Washington State gubernatorial race as of June 2023

Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s June 2023 guber­na­to­r­i­al poll find­ing, which asked respon­dents about a field of five declared can­di­dates (North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute)

In NPI’s last sea­son­al sur­vey, which field­ed in March, we asked 874 respon­dents, also a group of like­ly 2024 vot­ers, to react to a hypo­thet­i­cal field of can­di­dates for gov­er­nor. That group includ­ed Fer­gu­son and Franz along with two coun­ty exec­u­tives who have tak­en them­selves out of the run­ning: King Coun­ty’s Dow Con­stan­tine, a Demo­c­rat, and Pierce Coun­ty’s Bruce Dammeier, a Republican.

Fer­gu­son was the lead­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date in that sur­vey, with 21%, while Repub­li­can vot­ers grav­i­tat­ed to Dammeier, the only option we gave them.

When that poll field­ed, we did­n’t know what Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s plans for 2024 were, which was why we asked about a hypo­thet­i­cal field of candidates.

Now we know that Inslee plans to pass the torch. Wash­ing­to­ni­ans will be pick­ing a new gov­er­nor next year. It’s an excit­ing time in state politics.

A lot of peo­ple have either said they’re run­ning for gov­er­nor or are think­ing about doing so. A poll that asked about dozens of declared or poten­tial obscure can­di­dates would­n’t yield use­ful data, so we came up with a set of cri­te­ria to deter­mine which can­di­dates to include. Those cri­te­ria are as follows:

  • Must be an offi­cial­ly declared can­di­date for the office who has filed a C1 with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion (PDC)
  • Must have declared an affil­i­a­tion with a major par­ty (the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty or the Repub­li­can Party)
  • Must have report­ed rais­ing at least $50,000 in ear­ly mon­ey for their cur­rent guber­na­to­r­i­al cam­paign or have pre­vi­ous­ly raised at least $250,000 in a pri­or cam­paign for any state-lev­el office, or both

Sev­en­teen peo­ple have filed for gov­er­nor in 2024 with the PDC thus far, meet­ing the first of our cri­te­ria. Of those sev­en­teen, fif­teen have iden­ti­fied them­selves as Democ­rats or Repub­li­cans, meet­ing the sec­ond of our criteria.

Of those fif­teen, only five have either raised at least $50,000 already or pre­vi­ous­ly raised a quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars in a cam­paign for state lev­el office. The five who made the cut are Fer­gu­son, Franz, Mul­let, Gar­cia, and Bird.

As men­tioned, Fer­gu­son is the cur­rent Attor­ney Gen­er­al, Franz is Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands, and Mul­let is a state sen­a­tor from the 5th. Raul Gar­cia is a doc­tor and pre­vi­ous guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date (2020). Bird is a Rich­land school board mem­ber who calls him­self a Black con­sti­tu­tion­al Chris­t­ian conservative.

Here’s the exact text of the ques­tions we posed and the answers we received:

QUESTION (VERSION A): If the 2024 Top Two elec­tion for Gov­er­nor were being held today, would you vote for Demo­c­rat Hilary Franz, Repub­li­can Semi Bird, Demo­c­rat Bob Fer­gu­son, Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia, or Demo­c­rat Mark Mullet?

Half the poll sam­ple saw the ques­tion with the order of can­di­dates as shown above and half the sam­ple saw the ques­tion with the order of can­di­dates shown below. The word­ing was the same, but the order was invert­ed to make the ques­tion as neu­tral as possible. 

QUESTION (VERSION B): If the 2024 Top Two elec­tion for Gov­er­nor were being held today, would you vote for Demo­c­rat Mark Mul­let, Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia, Demo­c­rat Bob Fer­gu­son, Repub­li­can Semi Bird, or Demo­c­rat Hilary Franz?


  • Demo­c­rat Bob Fer­gu­son: 25%
  • Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia: 17%
  • Repub­li­can Semi Bird: 10%
  • Demo­c­rat Hilary Franz: 9%
  • Demo­c­rat Mark Mul­let: 7%
  • Not sure: 33%

Our sur­vey of 773 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, June 7th through Thurs­day, June 8th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (41%) and online answers from cell phone only respon­dents (59%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.5% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

NPI and PPP have worked togeth­er for a decade and have a track record of excel­lence, as detailed in this 2022 elec­toral polling recap and this 2020 one.

Topline analysis

As men­tioned, Fer­gu­son is the clear ear­ly fron­trun­ner for Governor.

Since our last statewide poll at about this time in March, which looked at a hypo­thet­i­cal field that includ­ed him, Hilary Franz, Dow Con­stan­tine, and Bruce Dammeier, his sup­port has gone up, from 21% then to 25% now.

That’s a pos­i­tive sign for his can­di­da­cy. Franz also saw a bump, albeit a very slight one: she went from 7% in March to 9% this time around.

Mul­let’s 7% is the same num­ber that Franz and Con­stan­tine were both at in March. Mul­let’s path to vic­to­ry looks awful­ly steep, espe­cial­ly with Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia in the race. Gar­cia is the oth­er win­ner in our survey.

Despite not hav­ing got­ten far in his last cam­paign in 2020, Gar­ci­a’s can­di­da­cy seems to be res­onat­ing. Repub­li­can and inde­pen­dent vot­ers like him more than Semi Bird, who has been in the race longer and has raised more money.

If the par­ty and Repub­li­can vot­ers decide to ral­ly behind Gar­cia, our team can see him con­sol­i­dat­ing enough sup­port to secure one of those top two spots, leav­ing only one spot for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date, which our research sug­gests would be Fer­gu­son. For Mul­let or Franz to become gov­er­nor, they’d like­ly need to make the runoff bal­lot in a Demo­c­rat-on-Demo­c­rat con­test and be Fer­gu­son’s oppo­nent, then man­age to reel in more votes than Fer­gu­son in that final head-to-head.

It’s going to be excep­tion­al­ly dif­fi­cult for either of them to get more votes than Fer­gu­son in the elim­i­na­tion round to make that runoff. Fer­gu­son will have have plen­ty of mon­ey to work with as the fron­trun­ner, and he’s bet­ter posi­tioned out of the gate than any­one else to lock down addi­tion­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic support.

Breakdown by party

In this poll, 42% of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers back Fer­gu­son, while 16% back Franz and 10% back Mul­let. 27% are not sure. 2% of self-iden­ti­fied Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers back Semi Bird; anoth­er 2% back Raul Garcia.

On the oth­er side of the divide: 40% of Repub­li­can vot­ers like Gar­cia; 24% are for Bird. 33% of Repub­li­can vot­ers aren’t sure who they’re vot­ing for. Fer­gu­son and Franz each got 1% from self-iden­ti­fied Repub­li­cans; Mul­let got 2%.

There’s real­ly not a dif­fer­ence there.

If you’re a Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date in this race, you’re going to find it real­ly hard to win over Repub­li­can vot­ers to your side, even if you say you’ll take a hard line on tax increas­es, which is what Mul­let is say­ing he’ll do.

Inde­pen­dents are the most unde­cid­ed group. Two-fifths of them (40%) aren’t sure. 20% back Fer­gu­son, and 17% back Gar­cia. 9% of inde­pen­dent vot­ers backed Bird, 8% backed Franz, and 6% backed Mullet.

Inde­pen­dents are an ide­o­log­i­cal­ly het­ero­ge­neous group, lack­ing con­sis­ten­cy in their val­ues and prin­ci­ples, so it isn’t sur­pris­ing to see splits like this.

It is note­wor­thy that Gar­cia has about three times the amount of sup­port among inde­pen­dent vot­ers that Mul­let does at this point.

The Repub­li­can-lean­ing inde­pen­dent vot­ers in our sam­ple had the option of pick­ing Mul­let, a Demo­c­rat who says he’s a mid­dle of the road guy who can beat Fer­gu­son, but they went with Gar­cia. Fascinating.

Breakdown by region

Here’s who each region prefers for governor:

  • King Coun­ty
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 29%
    • Hilary Franz: 13%
    • Mark Mul­let: 11%
    • Raul Gar­cia: 9%
    • Semi Bird: 5%
    • Not sure: 33%
  • North Puget Sound
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 33%
    • Raul Gar­cia: 16%
    • Hilary Franz: 9%
    • Semi Bird: 8%
    • Mark Mul­let: 2%
    • Not sure: 33%
  • South Sound
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 24%
    • Raul Gar­cia: 13%
    • Semi Bird: 11%
    • Hilary Franz: 9%
    • Mark Mul­let: 7%
    • Not sure: 36%
  • Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Washington
    • Raul Gar­cia: 18%
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 17%
    • Semi Bird: 11%
    • Hilary Franz: 10%
    • Mark Mul­let: 9%
    • Not sure: 35%
  • East­ern and Cen­tral Washington
    • Raul Gar­cia: 31%
    • Semi Bird: 18%
    • Bob Fer­gu­son: 16%
    • Hilary Franz: 5%
    • Mark Mul­let: 2%
    • Not sure: 29%

Fer­gu­son leads in the Puget Sound / I‑5 cor­ri­dor and is tied with Gar­cia in rur­al West­ern Wash­ing­ton. Gar­cia leads in East­ern and Cen­tral Washington.

Breakdown by gender

A plu­ral­i­ty of vot­ers who iden­ti­fy as female pre­fer Fer­gu­son: 29%. Gar­cia came in sec­ond with female vot­ers, at 15%. Vot­ers iden­ti­fy­ing as male were more split. 19% said they pre­ferred Fer­gu­son. Anoth­er 19% said Garcia.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Vot­ers iden­ti­fy­ing as female

  • Bob Fer­gu­son: 28%
  • Raul Gar­cia: 15%
  • Hilary Franz: 9%
  • Semi Bird: 7%
  • Mark Mul­let: 6%
  • Not sure: 34%

Vot­ers iden­ti­fy­ing as male

  • Bob Fer­gu­son: 19%
  • Raul Gar­cia: 19%
  • Semi Bird: 13%
  • Hilary Franz: 10%
  • Mark Mul­let: 7%
  • Not sure: 33%

Franz, the only female can­di­date in the sur­vey, actu­al­ly did a tiny bit bet­ter with male vot­ers than female vot­ers. It’s a sym­bol­ic, not sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence, but empha­sizes that female vot­ers just aren’t lin­ing up behind Franz.

More gubernatorial polling coming in late 2023

We will take anoth­er look at the con­test again in the autumn. For now, it’s real­ly great to have this fresh data. Read­ers, feel free to leave a com­ment if you have a ques­tion about our research, or send us a mes­sage through our con­tact form.

If you appre­ci­ate our cred­i­ble and rig­or­ous research and want it to con­tin­ue, please con­sid­er becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute. Mem­bers pow­er NPI’s work and enable us to pro­vide sound data to the public.

Thursday, June 8th, 2023

U.S. Supreme Court refuses to weaken Voting Rights Act to sanction Alabama gerrymander

In one of the most pleas­ant­ly shock­ing deci­sions of the Roberts/Alito era, the Unit­ed States Supreme Court today ruled that Alaba­ma’s cur­rent con­gres­sion­al map like­ly vio­lates the Unit­ed States Vot­ing Rights Act by dilut­ing the votes of the state’s Black res­i­dents through ger­ry­man­der­ing. Only last year, the Court had giv­en Alaba­ma the okay to use the map after a low­er court found it in vio­la­tion of the VRA. Today, the Court some­what reversed itself, with right wing Jus­tices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh join­ing its three lib­er­als to find for the plaintiffs.

The deci­sion, a big blow to the right wing, means that Alaba­ma Repub­li­cans’ gam­ble that the Court would accept its invi­ta­tion to fur­ther weak­en the Vot­ing Rights Act has failed. While Jus­tices Ali­to, Thomas, Gor­such, and Coney Bar­rett want­ed to go along with Alaba­ma, Roberts and Kavanaugh were not interested.

As a con­se­quence, it looks like Alaba­ma, one of the most Repub­li­can-dom­i­nat­ed states in the coun­try, might soon be forced to redraw its con­gres­sion­al map.

“The deci­sion came as some­what of a sur­prise after the oral argu­ment in Octo­ber, at which the court’s con­ser­v­a­tive jus­tices seemed like­ly to set aside the low­er court’s rul­ing,” not­ed Amy Howe, a respect­ed Supreme Court observ­er. “But it was a wel­come sur­prise for the chal­lengers and their supporters.”

“This deci­sion is a cru­cial win against the con­tin­ued onslaught of attacks on vot­ing rights,” said a vic­to­ri­ous Deuel Ross of the Legal Defense Fund.

Ross is coun­sel for the plain­tiffs and argued the case before the Court.

“Alaba­ma attempt­ed to rewrite fed­er­al law by say­ing race could not be con­sid­ered in the redis­trict­ing process even when nec­es­sary to rem­e­dy racial discrimination.”

“But because of the state’s sor­did and well-doc­u­ment­ed pat­tern of per­sist­ing racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, race must be con­sid­ered to ensure com­mu­ni­ties of col­or are not boxed out of the elec­toral process. While the Vot­ing Rights Act and oth­er key pro­tec­tions against dis­crim­i­na­to­ry vot­ing laws have been weak­ened in recent years and states con­tin­ue to pass pro­vi­sions to dis­en­fran­chise Black vot­ers, today’s deci­sion is a recog­ni­tion of Sec­tion 2′s pur­pose to pre­vent vot­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion and the very basic right to a fair shot,” Ross explained.

“The heart of these cas­es is not about the law as it exists. It is about Alabama’s attempt to remake our [Vot­ing Rights Act Sec­tion] §2 jurispru­dence anew,” wrote right wing Chief Jus­tice Roberts in the major­i­ty opin­ion, also signed by Jus­tices Ele­na Kagan, Sonia Sotomay­or, and Ketan­ji Brown Jackson.

“The cen­ter­piece of the State’s effort is what it calls the ‘race-neu­tral bench­mark,’ ” Roberts elab­o­rat­ed. “The the­o­ry behind it is this: Using mod­ern com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy, map­mak­ers can now gen­er­ate mil­lions of pos­si­ble dis­trict­ing maps for a giv­en State. The maps can be designed to com­ply with tra­di­tion­al dis­trict­ing cri­te­ria but to not con­sid­er race. The map­mak­er can deter­mine how many major­i­ty-minor­i­ty dis­tricts exist in each map, and can then cal­cu­late the medi­an or aver­age num­ber of major­i­ty-minor­i­ty dis­tricts in the entire mul­ti­mil­lion-map set.”

“That num­ber is called the race-neu­tral benchmark.”

“Although we are con­tent to reject Alabama’s invi­ta­tion to change exist­ing law on the ground that the State mis­un­der­stands §2 and our deci­sions imple­ment­ing it, we also address how the race-neu­tral bench­mark would oper­ate in prac­tice. Alabama’s approach fares poor­ly on that score, which fur­ther coun­sels against our adopt­ing it,” Roberts added after offer­ing a lengthy repu­di­a­tion of its arguments.

One of the more inter­est­ing pas­sages in Roberts’ opin­ion recounts the his­to­ry of City of Mobile v. Bold­en, a major VRA-relat­ed case from the 1970s.

That was a case in which the Court held “that dis­pro­por­tion­ate effects alone, absent pur­pose­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion, are insuf­fi­cient to estab­lish a claim of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion affect­ing vot­ing,” as sum­ma­rized by Wikipedia.

Not­ed Roberts:

Almost imme­di­ate­ly after it was decid­ed, Mobile “pro­duced an avalanche of crit­i­cism, both in the media and with­in the civ­il rights com­mu­ni­ty.” T. Boyd & S. Mark­man, The 1982 Amend­ments to the Vot­ing Rights Act: A Leg­isla­tive His­to­ry, 40 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1347, 1355 (1983) (Boyd & Mark­man). The New York Times wrote that the deci­sion rep­re­sent­ed “the biggest step back­wards in civ­il rights to come from the Nixon Court.” N. Y. Times, Apr. 23, 1980, p. A22.

And the Wash­ing­ton Post described Mobile as a “major defeat for blacks and oth­er minori­ties fight­ing elec­toral schemes that exclude them from office.” Wash­ing­ton Post, Apr. 23, 1980, p. A5.

By focus­ing on dis­crim­i­na­to­ry intent and ignor­ing dis­parate effect, crit­ics argued, the Court had abro­gat­ed “the stan­dard used by the courts to deter­mine whether [racial] dis­crim­i­na­tion exist­ed … : Whether such dis­crim­i­na­tion exist­ed.” It’s Results That Count, Philadel­phia Inquir­er, Mar. 3, 1982, p. 8–A.

A sim­i­lar “avalanche of crit­i­cism” fol­lowed the Roberts Court’s deci­sion in Shel­by Coun­ty, although Roberts con­ve­nient­ly neglect­ed to men­tion that in his opin­ion. Still, as the old say­ing goes, even a bro­ken clock can be right twice a day. It was going to take the defec­tions of two right wing jus­tices for the state to lose this case. Some­how, that hap­pened, which is a real­ly good thing for Alaba­ma, the Vot­ing Rights Act, and the coun­try. Kudos to the plain­tiffs for their per­sis­tence and thought­ful legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion. They’ve won an impor­tant vic­to­ry here.

Wednesday, June 7th, 2023

East Coasters, national media discover the poisonous, gloomy affliction of wildfire smoke

As pret­ty much any res­i­dent of the west­ern Unit­ed States and Cana­da can attest, one of the worst things about wild­fires is the smoke. It’s gloomy, poi­so­nous, and down­right icky. It jeop­ar­dizes a lot of sim­ple joys, from open­ing a win­dow to let in fresh air, going for a long walk, play­ing in the foun­tain at the park, or attend­ing an event such as a out­doors con­cert or base­ball game.

For much of the past decade, cities in the Pacif­ic and Moun­tain time­zones have put up with an increas­ing amount of tox­ic, night­mar­ish, smoky weather.

We’ve watched as some of our best weath­er weeks, espe­cial­ly in late sum­mer or ear­ly fall, have been effec­tive­ly lost to smoke ema­nat­ing from mas­sive wild­fires burn­ing through the forests and grass­lands of the West.

We’ve cur­tailed our out­door activ­i­ties and filled our homes with air puri­fiers. We’ve learned how to mea­sure air qual­i­ty and inter­pret smoke fore­casts. We’ve begged our elect­ed offi­cials to raise more resources in to address cli­mate cri­sis and com­bat wild­fires that get dead­lier and more destruc­tive every year.

East Coast­ers have in the past large­ly been spared from these mis­er­able expe­ri­ences. Nation­al media have occa­sion­al­ly report­ed on what’s hap­pen­ing out West, but it has­n’t per­vad­ed the pub­lic con­scious­ness of soci­ety on the oth­er coast in the way that it has here. At least, not until this week, when nasty, tox­ic smoke from wild­fires burn­ing in Cana­da arrived in the Mid-Atlantic region, send­ing air qual­i­ty in cities like Philadel­phia and New York to dan­ger­ous­ly low levels.

“The smoke from wild­fires hun­dreds of miles north that turned New York into a scene of unset­tling gloom on Wednes­day arrived as if from a burn­ing build­ing blocks away, drap­ing the city in a thick and oth­er­world­ly orange-gray hue,” wrote The New York Times’ Michael Wil­son, assess­ing the apoc­a­lyp­tic scene.

“In the air hung the acrid smell of a camp­fire. Not fog, not mist, not real­ly weath­er at all — this was some­thing new to even vet­er­an New Yorkers.”

“Auto­mo­bile head­lights flipped on mid­day, as dri­vers strug­gled to see. Street­lights lit auto­mat­i­cal­ly. Busy sum­mer­time side­walks, their noon­time shad­ows blurred out, grad­u­al­ly emp­tied. A woman leav­ing a gro­cery store stopped and point­ed her phone’s cam­era toward the blot­ted-out sky.”

“May­or Eric Adams, at a news con­fer­ence, gave voice to the way many New York­ers like­ly felt when they stepped out­side: ‘What the hell is this?’ ”

Wel­come to our world, East Coast­ers. Wel­come to our world.

This is what we’ve been suf­fer­ing with on about a semi­an­nu­al basis for sev­er­al years now. We empathize with your predica­ment. We’ve been there, way too many times. It sucks. The smoke is not only bad for your phys­i­cal health, it also takes a neg­a­tive toll on your men­tal and emo­tion­al health as well.

Know that it will pass, even­tu­al­ly. You’ll see clear­er skies again and breathe clean­er air. But you’re going to have to get through an unpleas­ant stretch first.

“Zero shade for the New York­ers deal­ing with this — it’s awful — but it’s wild to see the way East Coast media is sud­den­ly doing wall-to-wall cov­er­age of some­thing that’s been real­i­ty on the West Coast for a decade,” not­ed Rachel Alexan­der.

“Get­ting texts and DMs from friends and reporters like: so sor­ry we did­n’t real­ize how bad the fires were for you guys these past 5 years,” tweet­ed Clara Jef­frey.

“My fam­i­ly out west is com­pas­sion­ate but absolute­ly notices how dif­fer­ent the wild­fire smoke is being cov­ered today now that it has hit NY/DC than it is every eff­ing year back home,” tweet­ed Sarah Mimms, a deputy edi­tor for NBC.

Yep. That’s East Coast media bias for you.

Here’s some advice from west­ern­ers on man­ag­ing the smoke:

More advice here.

“Cana­da could exceed the largest total amount of burned area record­ed in this coun­try in a sin­gle year,” The Cana­di­an Press report­ed.

“Nat­ur­al Resources Cana­da released updat­ed data and fore­casts Mon­day show­ing that, as of June 4, there had been 2,214 wild­fires across Cana­da this year, and about 3.3 mil­lion hectares burned. The ten-year aver­age over the same time­frame is 1,624 fires and 254,429 hectares burned.”

“The depart­ment said it is unusu­al to have blazes across most of the coun­try this ear­ly in the wild­fire sea­son, and that Cana­da could pass the annu­al record for burned area if the cur­rent rate of fire activ­i­ty continues.”

In Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Pres­i­dent Biden spoke by tele­phone with Cana­di­an Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau about the fires. The U.S. is send­ing more fire­fight­ers north of the bor­der to help Cana­da attack the out of con­trol blazes.

“Pres­i­dent Biden spoke with Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau of Cana­da today to offer addi­tion­al sup­port to respond to the dev­ast­ing and his­toric wild­fires burn­ing in Cana­da,” said the White House in a read­out of the conversation.

“The Pres­i­dent has direct­ed his team to deploy all avail­able Fed­er­al fire­fight­ing assets that can rapid­ly assist in sup­press­ing fires impact­ing Cana­di­an and Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. To date, the Unit­ed States has deployed more than 600 U.S. fire­fight­ers and sup­port per­son­nel, and oth­er fire­fight­ing assets to respond to the fires. The two lead­ers also dis­cussed con­tin­ued coop­er­a­tion to pre­vent wild­fires and address the health impacts that such fires have on our com­mu­ni­ties. They agreed to stay in close touch on emerg­ing needs.”

“Hun­dreds of Amer­i­can fire­fight­ers have recent­ly arrived in Cana­da, and more are on the way,” said Trudeau. “On the phone today, I spoke with President
Biden about this crit­i­cal sup­port – and I thanked him for all the help Amer­i­cans are pro­vid­ing as we con­tin­ue to fight these dev­as­tat­ing wildfires.”

“We’re see­ing more and more of these fires because of cli­mate change. These fires are affect­ing every­day rou­tines, lives and liveli­hoods, and our air qual­i­ty. We’ll keep work­ing – here at home and with part­ners around the world – to tack­le cli­mate change and address its impacts,” the Prime Min­is­ter added.

Mean­while, in Par­lia­ment, right wing forces act­ed as if the fires did not exist.

“Wide swaths of the U.S. are feel­ing impacts from Cana­di­an wild­fires. As Ore­go­ni­ans know all too well, large wild­fires are huge threats to air qual­i­ty — and I hope this final­ly shines a nation­al spot­light on an issue folks in my state have faced for years,” tweet­ed Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley.

We agree. Let’s hope this expe­ri­ence prompts mem­bers of Con­gress from east­ern states to care more about address­ing the threat of wild­fires in the future.

Wednesday, June 7th, 2023

Seattle voters favor multifamily apartments anywhere in the city for social housing

Near­ly two-thirds of Seat­tle’s most reli­able vot­ers favor allow­ing the con­struc­tion of four to six sto­ry mul­ti­fam­i­ly apart­ment build­ings any­where in the city for social hous­ing that includes dwellings for edu­ca­tors, nurs­es, and archi­tects, a poll con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute ear­li­er this year shows.

65% of 651 like­ly spe­cial elec­tion vot­ers sur­veyed by Change Research for NPI in advance of Seat­tle’s Feb­ru­ary 2023 spe­cial elec­tion said they are strong­ly or some­what sup­port­ive of allow­ing mul­ti­fam­i­ly apart­ment build­ings to be built any­where in the city to pro­vide hous­ing for peo­ple work­ing in pro­fes­sions like teach­ing, while 30% said they were opposed. 5% said that they were not sure.

About four in ten Seat­tle vot­ers sur­veyed said they were strong­ly sup­port­ive, while few­er than two in ten said they were strong­ly opposed. 26% were some­what sup­port­ive, while 11% were some­what opposed.

Seat­tle vot­ers in Feb­ru­ary said yes to Ini­tia­tive 135, a social hous­ing ini­tia­tive cham­pi­oned by our friends at House Our Neigh­bors. The mea­sure autho­rized the for­ma­tion of a pub­lic devel­op­ment author­i­ty, or PDA, to build social housing.

State and city elect­ed lead­ers have since been work­ing to mar­shal fund­ing to help the PDA get set up and begin its oper­a­tions, a process that will take some time.

NPI’s research shows that a big per­cent­age of the city’s most depend­able vot­ers — the folks who can be count­ed upon to return a bal­lot regard­less of what time of year it is or how much media cov­er­age an elec­tion is get­ting — are enthu­si­as­tic about get­ting more social hous­ing built, and not just in neigh­bor­hoods that are already home to medi­um sto­ry build­ings. Here’s our ques­tion and responses:

QUESTION: Do you sup­port or oppose allow­ing the con­struc­tion of four to six sto­ry mul­ti­fam­i­ly apart­ment build­ings any­where in Seat­tle for social hous­ing that includes dwellings for edu­ca­tors, nurs­es, and architects?


  • Sup­port: 65% 
    • Strong­ly sup­port: 39%
    • Some­what sup­port: 26%
  • Oppose: 30%
    • Some­what oppose: 11%
    • Strong­ly oppose: 18%
  • Not sure: 5%

We had a fol­low-up ques­tion that we asked of those opposed, which was:

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: You indi­cat­ed you’re opposed to allow­ing four to six sto­ry mul­ti­fam­i­ly apart­ment build­ings to be built any­where in Seat­tle. Are there oth­er types of hous­ing units you would sup­port in your neigh­bor­hood? Check all that apply.


  • Duplex­es: 43%
  • Attached dwelling units (ADUs) / back­yard cot­tages: 38%
  • Town­hous­es: 23%
  • Triplex­es: 15%
  • Four­plex­es: 13%
  • Five­plex­es: 7%
  • Six­plex­es: 7%
  • None of these: 41%

What these fol­low-up answers show us is that even among folks who don’t want to see four to six sto­ry mul­ti­fam­i­ly apart­ment build­ings allowed any­where in Seat­tle, there’s still open­ness to oth­er miss­ing mid­dle hous­ing solutions.

Duplex­es topped the list, fol­lowed by ADUs and back­yard cottages.

There was less inter­est in town­hous­es or oth­er types. Slight­ly more peo­ple in this group of vot­ers expressed sup­port for duplex­es than checked the box that said “none of these,” a par­tic­u­lar­ly intrigu­ing result. (Remem­ber, these are the peo­ple who said they were some­what or strong­ly opposed to the first question!)

We asked a sim­i­lar fol­low-up ques­tion of our sup­port­ive vot­ers, and as you might expect, they’re extreme­ly enthu­si­as­tic about the whole range of options.

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION (ASKED OF SUPPORTIVE VOTERS): Are there oth­er types of hous­ing you’d sup­port allow­ing to be built any­where in Seat­tle? Check all that apply.

  • Duplex­es: 78%
  • Attached dwelling units (ADUs) / back­yard cot­tages: 72%
  • Town­hous­es: 71%
  • Triplex­es: 71%
  • Four­plex­es: 68%
  • Five­plex­es: 58%
  • Six­plex­es: 58%
  • None of these: 7%

Our sur­vey of 651 like­ly Feb­ru­ary 2023 spe­cial elec­tion vot­ers in Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton was in the field from Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 26th, through Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 30th, 2023. All respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute by Change Research and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.2% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Hous­ing pol­i­cy took front and cen­ter stage in the recent­ly-con­clud­ed 2023 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, with law­mak­ers adopt­ing sev­er­al bills that will make it eas­i­er to build miss­ing mid­dle hous­ing in com­mu­ni­ties across the state.

As we saw with the vote on I‑135, Seat­tle vot­ers are keen on a mul­ti­fac­eted strat­e­gy that embraces a range of ideas and solu­tions for mak­ing hous­ing more attain­able. Vot­ers aren’t just will­ing to say yes to more infra­struc­ture and mon­ey for hous­ing, they’re also ready to wel­come new neigh­bors so that every­one who wants to live in the City of Seat­tle can have a place to call home.

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023

Caleb Heimlich to resign as Chair of the Washington State Republican Party

The Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty’s Cen­tral Com­mit­tee will be tasked with pick­ing a new chair this sum­mer fol­low­ing incum­bent Caleb Heim­lich’s announce­ment that he has has accept­ed anoth­er job in pol­i­tics that he believes will allow him to bet­ter pro­vide for his family.

Heim­lich announced his plans in a note sent to oth­er Repub­li­can offi­cials. (The mes­sage was not dis­trib­uted to the par­ty’s larg­er mail­ing list, which often gets emails signed by Heim­lich exco­ri­at­ing Democ­rats and ask­ing for money.)

“It has been a tremen­dous hon­or to serve as the chair­man of this great orga­ni­za­tion for five and half years, but for the sake of my fam­i­ly it is time to pass the torch to some­one new,” Heim­lich’s mes­sage said.

A news release post­ed by the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty said Heim­lich’s suc­ces­sor will be cho­sen in a lit­tle over two months.

“Chair­man Caleb Heimlich’s depar­ture paves the way for fresh lead­er­ship with­in the par­ty, the elec­tion for which will take place dur­ing the State Com­mit­tee meet­ing on August 12th, fol­low­ing his depar­ture. Heim­lich, along with the WSRP staff, remains com­mit­ted to ensur­ing a smooth tran­si­tion and con­ti­nu­ity of the party’s work in sup­port­ing great can­di­dates for local elec­tions this year and next.”

“I’ve done my time at the par­ty,” Heim­lich told The Cen­ter Square’s Brett Davis in an inter­view. He added: “I’m leav­ing the par­ty in good finan­cial shape – $500,000 in the bank – and no scan­dals,” he said. “The orga­ni­za­tion is healthy.”

But not elec­toral­ly healthy.

Heim­lich began work­ing for the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty over a decade ago. As Davis men­tioned in his write­up for The Cen­ter Square, Heim­lich has been polit­i­cal direc­tor, exec­u­tive direc­tor, chief of staff, and par­ty chair. He took over for Susan Hutchi­son after she left the role fol­low­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial election.

Dur­ing the Chair Heim­lich era, the par­ty expe­ri­enced the fol­low­ing losses:

  • Lost a net of sev­en state House seats and three state Sen­ate seats in the 2018 midterms, when Democ­rats picked off a bunch of Repub­li­can-held seats in Wash­ing­ton’s suburbs
  • Lost the 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict for the first time in 2018 when Demo­c­ra­t­ic hope­ful Kim Schri­er defeat­ed washed up Repub­li­can Dino Rossi
  • Lost the posi­tion of State Trea­sur­er in 2020 when Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti defeat­ed incum­bent Duane Davidson
  • Lost the 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict in 2022 when Demo­c­ra­t­ic hope­ful Marie Glue­senkamp Perez defeat­ed ultra MAGA extrem­ist Joe Kent, fol­low­ing Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler’s loss in the August elim­i­na­tion round
  • Lost (net) a fur­ther seat in the state House and a fur­ther seat in the state Sen­ate in the 2022 midterms, which Repub­li­cans thought would be a “red wave” for them in Wash­ing­ton and elsewhere
  • Lost the posi­tion of Sec­re­tary of State in 2021 when incum­bent Kim Wyman resigned to take a job in the Biden admin­is­tra­tion and was replaced by a Demo­c­ra­t­ic appointee — Steve Hobbs.

That is a lot of losing.

Embar­rass­ing­ly, Repub­li­cans were unable to get a can­di­date on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot for Sec­re­tary of State the fol­low­ing year despite hav­ing held the office for over six­ty years pri­or to Wyman’s resignation.

The above list does­n’t include the loss­es the Repub­li­cans expe­ri­enced in con­tests for seats that were held by Democ­rats. The par­ty has not won a guber­na­to­r­i­al race since 1980, a U.S. Sen­ate con­test since 1994, or any statewide exec­u­tive posi­tion aside from Trea­sur­er and Sec­re­tary of State since 2008.

Out­side of rur­al or exur­ban areas and the occa­sion­al con­test with unusu­al cir­cum­stances, Repub­li­cans are not elec­toral­ly com­pet­i­tive in Washington.

Is all of this los­ing Heim­lich’s fault? No and yes.

No in the sense that Heim­lich, a state par­ty chair, is not respon­si­ble for the direc­tion of the nation­al par­ty, which heav­i­ly influ­ences how the par­ty is per­ceived here in Wash­ing­ton, and yes in the sense that Heim­lich did not make any kind of effort to get the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty on a dif­fer­ent path.

The state par­ty had many, many oppor­tu­ni­ties to break with the nation­al par­ty, and repu­di­ate the evil deeds of Don­ald Trump and Mike Pence, and try to build its own brand as a dis­tinct polit­i­cal enti­ty loy­al to repub­li­can principles.

It did­n’t.

Instead, it put up its own set of extrem­ists for state office — folks like grifter Loren Culp, who was not qual­i­fied to be gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton State.

The job of lead­ers is to lead, but as par­ty chair, Heim­lich was a fol­low­er and enabler with the hugest dou­ble stan­dard of any­one in state pol­i­tics. Heim­lich would reg­u­lar­ly call for civil­i­ty from Demo­c­ra­t­ic office­hold­ers while con­tin­u­al­ly embrac­ing the fas­cism and big­otry com­ing out of Don­ald Trump’s White House.

The clos­est Heim­lich ever got to repu­di­at­ing Trump might have been these com­ments: “My per­son­al opin­ion is I would rather see some­body else in 2024,” Heim­lich said dur­ing a City­Club event a cou­ple of years ago. “I think that for the par­ty, we would be more suc­cess­ful with a dif­fer­ent candidate.”

Pret­ty much every­one our team knows in Repub­li­can pol­i­tics says that Heim­lich is a warm, friend­ly, car­ing per­son with a big heart — and we don’t doubt that he’s a real­ly nice guy. There’s a rea­son he kept his job despite the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty’s awful elec­toral per­for­mance in 2018, 2020, and 2022.

How­ev­er friend­ly and big his heart might be, how­ev­er, he has will­ing­ly been a cog in a vicious, malev­o­lent polit­i­cal machine that has been relent­less­ly assault­ing Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy for years, to the detri­ment of all Washingtonians.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, his suc­ces­sor will prob­a­bly also be com­mit­ted to will­ful­ly enabling an ultra MAGA, extreme agen­da for Wash­ing­ton and the U.S.

Monday, June 5th, 2023

Christine Rolfes appointed to Kitsap County Commission; will leave State Senate

The chief bud­get writer in the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate, Sen­a­tor Chris­tine Rolfes, was today appoint­ed to fill a vacan­cy in the three-mem­ber Kit­sap Coun­ty Com­mis­sion and will soon be leav­ing the Leg­is­la­ture to focus on her new respon­si­bil­i­ties at the local lev­el, the vet­er­an sen­a­tor con­firmed today.

Rolfes first joined the Leg­is­la­ture in 2007 after win­ning a term in the Wash­ing­ton State House in the blue wave midterm cycle of 2006, which saw huge Demo­c­ra­t­ic gains in both cham­bers. She was reelect­ed in 2008 and 2010. In July of 2011, she was appoint­ed to the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate to suc­ceed Phil Rock­e­feller, who took a job with the North­west Pow­er and Con­ser­va­tion Council.

Democ­rats lost their Sen­ate major­i­ty the fol­low­ing year when Rod­ney Tom and Tim Shel­don defect­ed to the Repub­li­can cau­cus just a few weeks after Jay Inslee defeat­ed Rob McKen­na to become Wash­ing­ton State’s next governor.

It took five years for Democ­rats to regain a Sen­ate major­i­ty. In Novem­ber of 2017, the par­ty won a spe­cial elec­tion in Wash­ing­ton’s 45th Dis­trict, which result­ed in care­tak­er State Sen­a­tor Dino Rossi being replaced with Man­ka Dhin­gra, a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion boardmember.

The flip­ping of the Sen­ate major­i­ty led to a lead­er­ship changeover in all of the cham­ber’s com­mit­tees, includ­ing the pow­er­ful Ways & Means Com­mit­tee.

Rolfes was named as the Chair of that all impor­tant fis­cal com­mit­tee and has held the posi­tion ever since, assist­ed by fel­low Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors like David Frockt, June Robin­son, and Mark Mul­let. She’s now over­seen the draft­ing of the Sen­ate’s ver­sion of three oper­at­ing bud­gets (in 2019, 2021, and this year) plus three sup­ple­men­tal oper­at­ing bud­gets (in 2018, 2020, and 2022).

On her watch, in 2021, the Sen­ate took a long-await­ed vote to enact a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy, join­ing the House and Gov­er­nor Inslee in cement­ing a his­toric win for tax fair­ness and equi­ty that sur­vived a right wing legal challenge.

Oth­er tax fair­ness vic­to­ries Rolfes was involved in includ­ed the repeal of a tax loop­hole for big banks and the mod­ern­iza­tion of the real estate excise tax.

Ways & Means also heard bills to cre­ate a wealth tax, but did not vote on them.

Rolfes con­sid­ered run­ning for Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands in 2020, but opt­ed against it when Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee sought a third term, caus­ing incum­bent Hilary Franz to seek reelec­tion rather than pur­sue the state’s top job.

(Franz is now run­ning for gov­er­nor, cre­at­ing an open­ing for a new Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands, but Rolfes has decid­ed she’d rather be a dif­fer­ent kind of Com­mis­sion­er — a mem­ber of Kit­sap Coun­ty’s leg­isla­tive branch.)

The Kit­sap Coun­ty Com­mis­sion vacan­cy mate­ri­al­ized when incum­bent Rob Gelder moved to Thurston Coun­ty to become an assis­tant coun­ty man­ag­er there.

Gelder was a Demo­c­rat. Like Rolfes, he had been in office since 2011.

The Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion says that when vacan­cies in par­ti­san coun­ty or leg­isla­tive office arise, the coun­ty cen­tral com­mit­tee of the polit­i­cal par­ty the depart­ing office­hold­er was from shall draw up a list of three nom­i­nees for the coun­ty leg­isla­tive author­i­ty to choose from in appoint­ing a successor.

(In the case of a leg­isla­tive dis­trict span­ning mul­ti­ple coun­ties, the appoint­ment is made joint­ly in a spe­cial meet­ing of the dif­fer­ent leg­isla­tive authorities.)

If the coun­ty leg­isla­tive author­i­ty or author­i­ties fail to do their job with­in six­ty days, the Gov­er­nor assumes the pow­er to appoint.

The two remain­ing com­mis­sion­ers, Katie Wal­ters and Char­lotte Gar­ri­do, were pre­sent­ed with three names by the Kit­sap Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Those names were Rolfes, Brynn Felix, and Greg Nance. They were select­ed from a group of eleven appli­cants who com­pet­ed for a spot on the list at a spe­cial nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus held by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Wal­ters and Gar­ri­do inter­viewed the trio of final­ists and then decid­ed to select Rolfes, a deci­sion that sur­prised nobody.

Before run­ning for the Leg­is­la­ture, Rolfes was a Bain­bridge Island City Coun­cilmem­ber, serv­ing from 2000 to 2006. So, as she not­ed, she’s return­ing to her local gov­ern­ment roots. Assum­ing she remains on the Kit­sap Coun­ty Com­mis­sion for at least a cou­ple of years, she will have com­plet­ed a quar­ter of cen­tu­ry of pub­lic ser­vice at three dif­fer­ent lev­els of state and local government.

She told the Kit­sap Sun: “It’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to return to my roots and con­tin­ue to serve the coun­ty by work­ing on the 2024 com­pre­hen­sive plan and using my con­nec­tions and all of my rela­tion­ships around the coun­ty to do good things.”

“I love being in the Sen­ate, I loved serv­ing in the Leg­is­la­ture, but this is my 17th year, and I’m excit­ed to try some­thing new,” she explained to the Sun.

Rolfes is not barred by cur­rent law from hold­ing a state leg­isla­tive posi­tion in addi­tion to the coun­ty one. But, wise­ly, she has decid­ed to give one up to focus on the oth­er. She’ll resign in a few weeks. The 23rd Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict is locat­ed entire­ly with­in Kit­sap Coun­ty, so one of Rolfes’ first major deci­sions will be work­ing with Wal­ters and Gar­ri­do to select her replace­ment, again from a list of three nom­i­nees picked by the Kit­sap Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. If that replace­ment is State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Drew Hansen or State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tar­ra Sim­mons, the process will then have to be repeat­ed to find a new state representative.

By sum­mer’s end, as a con­se­quence of Rolfes’ move to the Com­mis­sion, the 23rd will have a new state sen­a­tor and pos­si­bly a new state rep­re­sen­ta­tive too.

And the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus will have to pick a new Ways & Means Chair for the 2024 short ses­sion that begins in Jan­u­ary. The cur­rent vice chairs are June Robin­son and Mark Mul­let. Mul­let is run­ning for gov­er­nor, so it’s unlike­ly he will want the posi­tion, or be cho­sen even if he did.

NPI thanks Sen­a­tor Rolfes for her con­tri­bu­tions as a state leg­is­la­tor. We wish her well as she assumes her new duties at the coun­ty level.

Friday, June 2nd, 2023

Don Bonker: 1937–2023

The Capi­tol Hill office of Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Bonker, D‑Washington, bore an unusu­al por­trait, that of one William Wilber­force, inde­pen­dent mind­ed British par­lia­men­tary reformer, phil­an­thropist, evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian and cru­sad­er who helped abol­ish the slave trade.

Wilber­force was an unusu­al mod­el for the sev­en-term (1974–88) Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gress­man from the “rust belt” of South­west Wash­ing­ton, but the earnest Bonker was a do-good­er, deeply reli­gious and will­ing to chal­lenge old boy net­works and mod­ern-day eco­nom­ic power.

Bonker, eighty-six, died Tues­day sur­round­ed by fam­i­ly at his home in Silverdale.

Bonker was pro­pelled into Con­gress by virtue of his oppo­si­tion to log exports. Big tim­ber com­pa­nies in the 3rd Dis­trict had dis­cov­ered you could make more mon­ey send­ing cut-down trees around rather than through their mills.

The con­se­quence was unprece­dent­ed, unsus­tain­able cut­ting of forests, com­bined with loss of jobs as pro­cess­ing oper­a­tions were shuttered.

The young Clark Coun­ty Audi­tor won a pri­ma­ry over State Sen­a­tor Bob Bai­ley, long­time aide to out­go­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Julia But­ler Hansen, and then faced Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State A.L. “Lud” Kramer in the 1974 gen­er­al election.

Kramer had beat­en Bonker in 1972. Not this time.

Bonker had the issue, while Kramer used one of history’s worst cam­paign slo­gans: “Don’t get bonked.” Bonker won by a 60%-40% spread.

Bonker fit into a Wash­ing­ton del­e­ga­tion that was the envy of oth­er states.

It was head­ed by the “gold dust twins,” Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors War­ren Mag­nu­son (“Mag­gie”) and Hen­ry (“Scoop”) Jack­son. Both chaired pow­er­ful Sen­ate com­mit­tees. The Democ­rats’ reformist “Class of ‘74” dumped the old Texas reac­tionary who chaired the House Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee, and elect­ed Spokane’s Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tom Foley as chair­man. The del­e­ga­tion held a month­ly break­fast and worked col­le­gial­ly across par­ty lines to resolve state issues.

Bonker didn’t want raw logs going over­seas but saw glob­al trade as a path to pros­per­i­ty for a dis­trict fronting on the Pacif­ic Ocean.

He rose in senior­i­ty on the House For­eign Affairs Com­mit­tee, chair­ing both its trade and human rights sub­com­mit­tees. He wrote leg­is­la­tion and chaired House Speak­er Tip O’Neill’s trade task force.

Back home, if you want to see Bonker’s accom­plish­ments, just look around. He suc­cess­ful­ly pushed to add Point of Arch­es and Shi Shi Beach, crown­ing glo­ry spots of the Pacif­ic Coast, to Olympic Nation­al Park. It wasn’t easy: Tim­ber com­pa­nies and prop­er­ty rights wack­os had fought cre­ation of the nation­al park and accused Bonker of want­i­ng to “lock up” the Peninsula.

He took on the Port of Grays Har­bor in cre­at­ing the Grays Har­bor Nation­al Wildlife Refuge. With inter­tidal flats and salt marsh­es, Bow­er­man Basin near Hoquiam is a key spring stopover for hun­dreds of thou­sands of shore­birds migrat­ing north to the Arc­tic. At oth­er sea­sons, it is an impor­tant stop for local teenagers to make out.

Bonker suc­ceed­ed in pro­tect­ing an impor­tant bird nest­ing area – Pro­tec­tion Island – from a pro­posed real estate development.

He helped ran­som an old growth for­est, Cedar Grover on Long Island in Willa­pa Bay, from the clutch­es of Weyerhaeuser.

The May 18th, 1980 erup­tion of Mt. St. Helens reshaped a grace­ful sym­met­ri­cal vol­cano known as the “Amer­i­can Fuji” and flat­tened two hun­dred and thir­ty square miles of land. Bonker was dri­ving force behind cre­ation of the Mount St. Helens Nation­al Vol­canic Mon­u­ment — at 110,000 acres, far larg­er than what had been pro­posed for pro­tec­tion by the Rea­gan Administration.

Bonker was also instru­men­tal as Con­gress des­ig­nat­ed the Colum­bia Gorge Nation­al Scenic Area, where the Northwest’s great­est riv­er carves a path through the Cas­cades. The usu­al actors protest­ed the “land grab” and “lock­ing up” of pub­lic lands, but the Gorge has flour­ished as a recre­ation des­ti­na­tion with Hood Riv­er, Ore­gon, emerg­ing as the wind surf­ing cap­i­tal of America.

“I admired Con­gress­man Bonker for tak­ing a lead­ing role on inter­na­tion­al trade and help­ing estab­lish the Grays Har­bor Nation­al Wildlife Refuge and the Mount St. Helens Nation­al Mon­u­ment, Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington said in a state­ment. The state is “more pros­per­ous and our nat­ur­al places bet­ter pro­tect­ed” because of his service.

Bonker sought the Sen­ate seat of retir­ing Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Dan Evans in 1988, only to lose the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion to House col­league Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Lowry. In turn, Lowry lost to the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s Slade Gorton.

Four years lat­er, he again came up short as Pat­ty Mur­ray won the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nod and cap­tured a Sen­ate seat which she still holds.

Bonker stayed active in trade pol­i­cy, find­ing a post-Con­gress career at APCO World­wide, a con­sult­ing and legal firm, and com­ment­ing on nation­al and inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics, includ­ing here on The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate.

He emerged in recent years with a mem­oir enti­tled “A High­er Call­ing.” It was a kind of ode to an era of “trust and respect,” a cel­e­bra­tion of when mem­bers of both par­ties in the House occa­sion­al­ly found com­mon ground and were able to intense­ly dis­agree with­out becom­ing disagreeable.

He loathed Newt Gin­grich, whose ele­va­tion to House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship sig­naled a sharp turn to reac­tion and demagoguery.

“He (Gin­grich) made it clear he was not inter­est­ed in bipar­ti­san­ship,” Bonker would say. “He just laid the ground­work, and it has got­ten much more worse in the last few years.” Of his tenure in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Bonker wrote: “My own achieve­ments on inter­na­tion­al trade, human rights, pre­serv­ing our nat­ur­al resources hap­pened only because of bipar­ti­san support.”

The pro­tec­tion of the Colum­bia Gorge, done in tan­dem with Sen­a­tors Dan Evans and Bob Pack­wood, R‑Oregon, was a clas­sic exam­ple of act­ing across both par­ty lines and state bound­aries. So was the 1984 Wash­ing­ton Wilder­ness Act, which saw the pro­tec­tion of Gif­ford Pin­chot Nation­al For­est lands in both Bonker’s turf and the adjoin­ing dis­trict of Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Sid Morrison.

The 3rd Dis­trict once again has a Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­ber of Congress.

New­ly elect­ed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Marie Glue­senkamp Perez said Thurs­day: “Don was always there to answer my ques­tions, share a word of advice or even lend my hus­band a suit to wear to my swear­ing on cer­e­mo­ny in D.C… His work to pre­serve the woods and our way of life will con­tin­ue to be felt by South­west Wash­ing­ton for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Bonker is sur­vived by his wife of fifty-one years, Car­olyn, and two adult children.

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

U.S. Senate sends bill to raise debt ceiling, satisfy Republican ransom demands to Biden

The Unit­ed States Sen­ate vot­ed tonight to go along with the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in pass­ing leg­is­la­tion nego­ti­at­ed by Speak­er Kevin McCarthy and Pres­i­dent Biden that rais­es the debt ceil­ing in return for impos­ing Repub­li­can-demand­ed aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures on the coun­try’s essen­tial pub­lic services.

The so-called Fis­cal Respon­si­bil­i­ty Act received yea votes from almost two-thirds of the Sen­ate, pass­ing 63–36. Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Eliz­a­beth War­ren, Jeff Merkley, Ed Markey, and John Fet­ter­man vot­ed no, along with inde­pen­dent Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders of Ver­mont and thir­ty-one Repub­li­can senators.

Pas­sage of H.R. 3746 averts what would have been a self-inflict­ed finan­cial cat­a­stro­phe brought about by mil­i­tant right wing Repub­li­cans obsessed with dis­man­tling the coun­try’s social con­tract, but at a steep cost to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. The deal con­tains a par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­gust­ing give­away to West Vir­gini­a’s fos­sil fuels lov­ing Joe Manchin, who secured a pro­vi­sion requir­ing the con­struc­tion of a pol­lut­ing pipeline in his home state that has been held up in the courts.

Pres­i­dent Biden plans to sign it into law quick­ly, like­ly some­time tomorrow.

The Depart­ment of the Trea­sury has pre­vi­ous­ly said that its “extra­or­di­nary mea­sures” would be exhaust­ed as of June 5th, which is this com­ing Mon­day, so Biden had implored Con­gress to get him the bill by the end of this week, which it has now done. This neces­si­tat­ed the Sen­ate’s rejec­tion of a num­ber of amend­ments, sev­er­al of which were pro­posed by hard­line ultra MAGA senators.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as follows:

Vot­ing Yea to pass the bill: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Lisa Murkows­ki (AK)

Vot­ing Nay to defeat the bill: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley (OR), Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Steve Daines (MT); Dan Sul­li­van (AK)

Mitch McConnell pro­vid­ed sev­en­teen Repub­li­can votes for the bill, includ­ing his own. Chuck Schumer deliv­ered forty-six votes, which is more than twice as many.

“Tonight, Sen­a­tors from both par­ties vot­ed to pro­tect the hard-earned eco­nom­ic progress we have made and pre­vent a first-ever default by the Unit­ed States,” said Pres­i­dent Biden. “Togeth­er, they demon­strat­ed once more that Amer­i­ca is a nation that pays its bills and meets its oblig­a­tions — and always will be. I want to thank Leader Schumer and Leader McConnell for quick­ly pass­ing the bill.”

“No one gets every­thing they want in a nego­ti­a­tion, but make no mis­take: this bipar­ti­san agree­ment is a big win for our econ­o­my and the Amer­i­can people.”

“It pro­tects the core pil­lars of my Invest­ing in Amer­i­ca agen­da that is cre­at­ing good jobs across the coun­try, fuel­ing a resur­gence in man­u­fac­tur­ing, rebuild­ing our infra­struc­ture, and advanc­ing clean energy.”

“It safe­guards peo­ples’ health care and retire­ment secu­ri­ty, pro­tect­ing bedrock pro­grams like Social Secu­ri­ty, Medicare, and Med­ic­aid. It pro­tects vital invest­ments in hard­work­ing fam­i­lies that help make our coun­try strong—from child care and edu­ca­tion, to pub­lic safe­ty and Meals on Wheels. It pro­tects my stu­dent debt relief plan for hard­work­ing bor­row­ers. And it hon­ors America’s sacred oblig­a­tion to our vet­er­ans by ful­ly fund­ing vet­er­ans’ med­ical care.”

“Our work is far from fin­ished, but this agree­ment is a crit­i­cal step for­ward, and a reminder of what’s pos­si­ble when we act in the best inter­ests of our coun­try. I look for­ward to sign­ing this bill into law as soon as pos­si­ble and address­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple direct­ly tomorrow.”

“When the full faith and cred­it of the Unit­ed States was on the line, Pres­i­dent Biden answered the call and deliv­ered a his­toric bipar­ti­san bud­get agree­ment for the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee Chair Jaime Harrison.

“In a tes­ta­ment to his expe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship, Pres­i­dent Biden suc­cess­ful­ly nego­ti­at­ed a deal that pro­tect­ed key pri­or­i­ties and the his­toric eco­nom­ic gains we have made over the last two years.”

“This agree­ment pro­tects the health care of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, strength­ens our eco­nom­ic recov­ery, pre­vents cru­el cuts to the pro­grams that mil­lions of Amer­i­can fam­i­lies rely on, and ful­ly funds med­ical care for veterans.”

“Pres­i­dent Biden was elect­ed in part because of his abil­i­ty to work across the aisle and get things done for the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and, once again, he deliv­ered. He did his job to ensure Amer­i­ca avoids an unprece­dent­ed default that could have led to a reces­sion, mil­lions of jobs lost, dev­as­tat­ed retire­ment accounts, and high­er bor­row­ing costs for Amer­i­can families.”

“While these nego­ti­a­tions made clear that MAGA Repub­li­cans will stop at noth­ing – includ­ing hold­ing our econ­o­my hostage – to enact their unpop­u­lar and dan­ger­ous agen­da, the Amer­i­can peo­ple also now see that Pres­i­dent Biden and Democ­rats will con­tin­ue to find a way for­ward and nev­er stop work­ing to deliv­er for them.”

That hostage-tak­ing was cit­ed by our very own Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray in her com­ments on the Sen­ate floor as very destruc­tive for the country.

“Instead of work­ing through the bud­get and appro­pri­a­tions process — as we do every year — to craft our nation’s bud­get and deter­mine how we spend mon­ey, House Repub­li­cans just decid­ed they would threat­en to tank our econ­o­my and force the U.S. into default to extract par­ti­san con­ces­sions,” stat­ed Sen­a­tor Mur­ray. “We have heard House Repub­li­cans lead­ers and even the leader of the Repub­li­can Par­ty talk open­ly about tak­ing our econ­o­my and the Amer­i­can peo­ple ‘hostage.’”

“For House Repub­li­cans, this was nev­er tru­ly about the debt any­way,” said Mur­ray. “Repub­li­cans added tril­lions to the debt under Pres­i­dent Trump through tax give­aways for bil­lion­aires and giant cor­po­ra­tions. But they refuse to even talk about ask­ing bil­lion­aires to pay at least as much in tax­es as a fire­fight­er or a nurse.”

And sad­ly, thanks to Mur­ray’s col­leagues Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sine­ma, Democ­rats failed to rescind the Trump tax cuts, per­ma­nent­ly abol­ish the debt ceil­ing, or lock in the COVID-era improve­ments to the coun­try’s social con­tract that Con­gress made as part of the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan, like the child tax cred­it. Democ­rats had con­trol of both cham­bers last bien­ni­um, but could not prop­er­ly use those majori­ties due to Manchin and Sine­ma’s per­fid­i­ous behavior.

Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon was one of the few Democ­rats who refused to back the deal, con­clud­ing that it would be against his val­ues to do so.

“Since the text of this leg­is­la­tion was released, I have immersed myself in the details and lis­tened care­ful­ly to everyone’s points of view,” said Merkley pri­or to the floor debate. “I appre­ci­ate the diver­si­ty of opin­ion with­in the Con­gress and with­in my own cau­cus. Still, I can­not in good con­science vote for this bill.”

“This bill breaks with recent, estab­lished, and bipar­ti­san prac­tice, cut­ting pro­grams that are the foun­da­tions for thriv­ing fam­i­lies — includ­ing health care, hous­ing, and education—to increase mil­i­tary spending.”

“In addi­tion, this bill sets two tru­ly hor­rif­ic prece­dents: It com­plete­ly exempts the Moun­tain Val­ley Pipeline (MVP) from fol­low­ing envi­ron­men­tal law, even though the com­pa­ny build­ing the pipeline is an egre­gious vio­la­tor that has racked up more than five hun­dred vio­la­tions in two states.”

“In addi­tion, the bill dic­tates the court juris­dic­tion for the MVP should there be addi­tion­al legal chal­lenges. This pro­found­ly under­mines the integri­ty of our judi­cia­ry. For Con­gress to — by law — move a court case from one juris­dic­tion to anoth­er, to pro­vide a spe­cial favor to a pow­er­ful cor­po­ra­tion, is fun­da­men­tal­ly cor­rupt. This is a line we should nev­er cross. The pipeline itself is an assault against a sus­tain­able plan­et. We must rec­og­nize that fos­sil gas is just as dam­ag­ing as coal. Pre­tend­ing oth­er­wise is lead­ing us to cli­mate catastrophe.”

“Final­ly, this bill con­tains changes to bedrock envi­ron­men­tal law that will allow fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies to evade respon­si­bil­i­ty and accountability.”

“It allows com­pa­nies to write their own envi­ron­men­tal impact eval­u­a­tions. It changes the stan­dards for accept­able sci­ence and data. It exempts entire pipeline projects from fed­er­al envi­ron­men­tal protections.

“I ful­ly rec­og­nize that a debt default would be a dis­as­ter for work­ing fam­i­lies and must nev­er be allowed to hap­pen. It’s uncon­scionable that MAGA Repub­li­cans and Speak­er McCarthy were will­ing to enter­tain dri­ving the econ­o­my over the default cliff at all. How­ev­er, yield­ing to this black­mail only guar­an­tees that Repub­li­cans will use the debt lim­it to hold Amer­i­ca hostage time and time again.”

“We must end the hostage-tak­ing, either by pass­ing leg­is­la­tion like my Pro­tect Our CREDIT Act or through the Pres­i­dent exer­cis­ing his exec­u­tive pow­er, such as the use of the 14th Amendment.”

“In sum, there is vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing in this bill that match­es what the peo­ple of Ore­gon care about, and a whole lot of stuff that will hurt them. I can’t throw them under the bus. I can­not in good con­science sup­port this legislation.”

We agree with Sen­a­tor Merkley’s assess­ment of this bill and thank him for vot­ing no. There at least need­ed to be some Demo­c­ra­t­ic nays on this roll call, and the good peo­ple of the Pacif­ic North­west who oppose the cor­rup­tion and rot con­tained in this leg­is­la­tion were rep­re­sent­ed thanks to Sen­a­tor Merkley.

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

Washington State Senator Mark Mullet launches 2024 gubernatorial campaign

For sev­er­al weeks now, it’s been rumored that State Sen­a­tor Mark Mul­let, the dean of East King Coun­ty’s del­e­ga­tion to the state’s upper cham­ber, was think­ing about run­ning for gov­er­nor in 2024 in the wake of Jay Inslee’s retire­ment announce­ment. Today, Mul­let made it offi­cial, con­firm­ing his inten­tions and unveil­ing a cam­paign web­site, ini­tial slate of endorse­ments, and priorities.

“There is no can­di­date for gov­er­nor at this point focused on the biggest chal­lenges fac­ing our state includ­ing afford­able hous­ing, reduc­ing home­less­ness, cre­at­ing jobs and mak­ing neigh­bor­hoods safe,” Mul­let said in a statement.

(It’s worth not­ing that Mul­let’s rivals, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son and Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands Hilary Franz, did cite those same issues as con­cerns that they’d be focused on when they announced their cam­paigns last month.)

“Too many fam­i­lies can’t afford, even on good salaries, the ris­ing cost of liv­ing,” Mul­let con­tin­ued. “Too many fam­i­lies are wor­ried about the direc­tion of pub­lic safe­ty in our state, which is why we need dif­fer­ent lead­er­ship in Olympia.”

Mul­let’s Pri­or­i­ties page con­tains the fol­low­ing headings:

  • Make more afford­able hous­ing a reality
  • Invest in skills train­ing and manufacturing
  • Pri­or­i­tize safe streets and neighborhoods
  • Sup­port Wash­ing­ton farmers
  • We can’t tax our way out of every problem
  • A green econ­o­my is a strong economy

“As a proud Demo­c­rat, Mark will put the needs of the peo­ple at the fore­front, lead­ing Wash­ing­ton State towards a bet­ter future,” the page says.

But curi­ous­ly, the word “edu­ca­tion” does­n’t appear any­where on it.

Nor does the word “schools.” Not even in passing.

What an omis­sion! The Con­sti­tu­tion declares in Arti­cle IX that it is the state’s para­mount duty to amply pro­vide for the edu­ca­tion of all youth resid­ing with­in Wash­ing­ton’s bor­ders, and it is the gov­er­nor’s duty to pro­pose and sign into law bud­gets that meet this con­sti­tu­tion­al requirement.

Large majori­ties of vot­ers sur­veyed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI say that Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic schools are under­fund­ed and we need to raise rev­enue to ful­ly fund them. Majori­ties also agree that the fis­cal dif­fi­cul­ties school dis­tricts are fac­ing are the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the Leg­is­la­ture (and gov­er­nor, by exten­sion) to fix.

How’d our K‑12 schools get over­looked as a pri­or­i­ty giv­en that their well-being the state’s para­mount duty? There is sim­ply no men­tion of Mul­let’s views on pro­vid­ing for the future of high­er edu­ca­tion, child care, or ear­ly learn­ing either.

Here’s a screen­shot of the entire page so you can see for yourself:

The initial Priorities page on Mark Mullet's campaign website

The ini­tial Pri­or­i­ties page on Mark Mul­let’s cam­paign web­site (Click to enlarge)

Mul­let mem­o­rably vot­ed against levy­ing a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy to fund our schools two years ago — a tax that is now bring­ing in cru­cial­ly need­ed rev­enue for our kids and our schools. (He was only one of three Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors to do so — the oth­ers were Kevin Van De Wege and Steve Hobbs.) But he can’t expect to avoid the top­ic dur­ing the course of the campaign.

Our sus­pi­cion is this page gets updat­ed to say some­thing about edu­ca­tion, pos­si­bly as soon as some­one from Mul­let’s cam­paign reads this post.

The home page does say this:

Mark knows our pub­lic school sys­tem cre­ates the best lad­der avail­able to help raise peo­ple out of pover­ty – which is why expand­ing preschool access is a top pri­or­i­ty for him.

Mark has advo­cat­ed for the invest­ment of tens of bil­lions of addi­tion­al dol­lars in our pub­lic school sys­tem dur­ing his time in the Sen­ate. With edu­ca­tor reten­tion still a major chal­lenge, Mark will work towards solu­tions that involve new ideas that aren’t just about more dollars.

Of course, as men­tioned, the state’s cur­rent strat­e­gy for expand­ing preschool access is reliant on that cap­i­tal gains rev­enue that Mul­let vot­ed against levying.

Mul­let’s ini­tial endorse­ments are as follows:

  • Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs
  • Yaki­ma May­or Jan­ice Deccio
  • State Sen­a­tor Annette Cleveland
  • State Sen­a­tor John Lovick
  • State Sen­a­tor Kevin Van De Wege
  • For­mer Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Sharon K. Nelson
  • For­mer State Sen­a­tor Bri­an Hatfield
  • State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Amy Walen
  • State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mia Gregerson
  • Tuk­wila May­or Allan Ekberg
  • Yarrow Point May­or Katy Harris
  • Kent May­or Dana Ralph
  • Wood­inville May­or Mike Millman
  • Sno­qualmie May­or Kather­ine Ross
  • Seat­ac May­or Jake Simpson
  • Ren­ton May­or Armon­do Pavone
  • Maple Val­ley May­or Sean Kelly
  • Issaquah May­or Mary Lou Pauly
  • Car­na­tion City Coun­cil Mem­ber and Serv­ing May­or Jim Ribail
  • Cov­ing­ton May­or Jeff Wagner
  • Black Dia­mond May­or Car­ol Benson
  • Everett May­or Cassie Franklin
  • North Bend May­or Rob McFarland
  • Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Sara Nelson
  • Sno­homish Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Jared Mead
  • Sno­qualmie Val­ley School Board Direc­tor Car­olyn Simpson
  • Steve Hoop­er, Seat­tle Restau­rant Alliance
  • Ker­ri Lon­er­gan-Dreke, Lom­bardi’s Restau­rant Group
  • NW Chap­ter of the Nation­al Con­struc­tion Alliance
  • Inter­na­tion­al Union of Oper­at­ing Engi­neers Local 302
  • Tiffany Tuner, own­er of Adrift Hospitality

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, wide­ly con­sid­ered the fron­trun­ner in the con­test, “wel­comed” Mul­let to the race by releas­ing a video crit­i­ciz­ing his record as a state sen­a­tor. The video, titled, “Three Rea­sons,” can be seen below:


Three rea­sons why Mark Mul­let is the wrong choice for governor.

  • One — Mul­let was the only Demo­c­rat to vote against pro­tect­ing our repro­duc­tive health data. Pro-choice Wash­ing­ton strong­ly opposed his vote.
  • Two — Mul­let opposed the $15 min­i­mum wage for Wash­ing­to­ni­ans, includ­ing his own workers.
  • Three — Mullet’s bankrolled by big cor­po­ra­tions. Big Oil, Big Phar­ma, and Big Insurance.

Three rea­sons why Mark Mul­let is com­plete­ly out of touch, and the wrong choice for us.

Com­ment­ing on the video, The Stranger’s Rich Smith observed:

The video fails to men­tion his efforts to open up mul­ti-mil­lion-dol­lar tax loop­holes for big busi­ness­es, keep the state’s ban on affir­ma­tive action, gut a bill that end­ed the racist prac­tice of using cred­it scores to deter­mine car insur­ance amounts, lim­it col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing for teach­ers, block attempts to pass pro­gres­sive rev­enue, block mod­er­ate pro­pos­als to fight cli­mate change, and advo­cate for loos­en­ing indoor din­ing ahead of a major COVID spike in 2020. The video also did­n’t men­tion the $80,000 pool that he had installed in the back­yard of his McMan­sion dur­ing the pan­dem­ic (which, to be fair, seemed like a bad tim­ing thing), but there’s only so much you can shove in a 30-sec­ond spot, I guess.

Also not men­tioned in that video are Sen­a­tor Mul­let’s com­ments about Pres­i­dent Joe Biden from last year. Appear­ing on the late Dori Mon­son’s right wing talk radio show in April of 2022, Mul­let told Bran­di Kruse he was­n’t yet on board with Biden-Har­ris 2024 and was­n’t going to “make any promis­es now because I just want to see what the play­ing field looks like in two years.”

Hilary Franz’s cam­paign has not yet com­ment­ed on Mul­let’s entry into the race.

Mul­let is expect­ed to have the back­ing of pow­er­ful busi­ness inter­ests for his cam­paign, whether direct­ly or indi­rect­ly through inde­pen­dent expen­di­tures. The Real­tors, Build­ing Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton, and the Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Busi­ness are exam­ples of enti­ties that may be play­ers in sup­port of Mul­let’s 2024 cam­paign. Giv­en Repub­li­cans’ lack of com­pet­i­tive­ness in Wash­ing­ton, the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty has no incen­tive to invest in a Republican.

Mul­let, in their eyes, would be the next best choice.

For­mer Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty Chair Chris Vance, who left the Repub­li­can Par­ty after it began to wor­ship Don­ald Trump, has blunt­ly declared on many occa­sions — and as recent­ly as this week — that Repub­li­cans have no chance of win­ning the gov­er­nor­ship in Wash­ing­ton. And we agree with his assessment.

Repub­li­cans just aren’t com­pet­i­tive at the statewide lev­el here any­more. They hold no statewide offices and their bench is incred­i­bly thin. Repub­li­cans last won a guber­na­to­r­i­al race in Wash­ing­ton in 1980. Yes, 1980. It’s been that long!

Mul­let’s Sen­ate seat comes up in pres­i­den­tial years, so he has to give it up in order to run for gov­er­nor. State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bill Ramos declared this morn­ing that he is run­ning for that Sen­ate seat, which will open up his state House seat.

“I’m excit­ed for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to build on my record and bring my exper­tise to the State Sen­ate,” said Ramos.

“The 2024 elec­tions are going to be crit­i­cal for the future of our state and nation, and I’m eager to con­tin­ue work­ing for good jobs and infra­struc­ture invest­ments, safe­guard­ing health care rights, and mak­ing sure kids get the future they deserve– with good schools, safe com­mu­ni­ties, and action on cli­mate change.”

Ramos has the back­ing of his seat­mate, Lisa Callan, the 5th Dis­tric­t’s oth­er State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, a for­mer Issaquah school board member.

“Bill and I have a strong part­ner­ship in the House, which will con­tin­ue when he is in the Sen­ate,” said Callan. “Togeth­er we’ve deliv­ered for the com­mu­ni­ties we serve, and we can do even more in the com­ing years.”

“I’m hap­py to endorse his cam­paign for Sen­ate, and appre­ci­ate his sup­port for the lead­er­ship I’ll con­tin­ue show­ing in the State House.”

With Mul­let now a declared can­di­date, the field of cred­i­ble con­tenders on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic side stands at three. King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine has decid­ed against run­ning in 2024 and won’t be a can­di­date, while Franz and Fer­gu­son have launched their cam­paigns and are busy fundrais­ing. On the Repub­li­can side, there’s Raul Gar­cia and Semi Bird. Gar­cia ran in 2020 and is try­ing again; Bird is an ultra MAGA can­di­date court­ing the par­ty’s extrem­ist base.

Wednesday, May 31st, 2023

U.S. House votes to raise debt ceiling, impose Republican-demanded austerity measures

The Repub­li­can-con­trolled Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives tonight vot­ed some­what along the inverse of par­ty lines to pass a deal that once again rais­es the nation’s debt ceil­ing, but at a steep cost to the Amer­i­can peo­ple, in order to sat­is­fy the demands of mil­i­tant right wing Repub­li­cans who love spend­ing big bucks on the mil­i­tary but oppose invest­ing in the coun­try’s social contract.

By a vote of 314–117, the House adopt­ed the so-called Fis­cal Respon­si­bil­i­ty Act of 2023, which “increas­es the fed­er­al debt lim­it, estab­lish­es new dis­cre­tionary spend­ing lim­its, rescinds unob­lig­at­ed funds, and expands work require­ments for fed­er­al pro­grams,” as sum­ma­rized by Con­gress’ offi­cial leg­isla­tive website.

Although the bill is chock full of con­ces­sions to Repub­li­cans, it was Democ­rats who ulti­mate­ly put up most of the votes to pass it. 165 Democ­rats vot­ed yea on final pas­sage, while 46 vot­ed nay. 149 Repub­li­cans vot­ed yea and 71 vot­ed nay. Two Democ­rats did not vote; two Repub­li­cans also did not vote.

In the Pacif­ic North­west, the roll call was as follows:

Vot­ing Yea to pass the bill: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land (WA), Earl Blu­me­nauer and Andrea Sali­nas (OR), Mary Pel­to­la (AK); Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house, Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA), Cliff Bentz, Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer (OR), Mike Simp­son (ID)

Vot­ing Nay to defeat the bill: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Prami­la Jaya­pal (WA), Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Val Hoyle (OR); Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher (ID), Matt Rosendale, Ryan Zinke (MT)

Pres­i­dent Joe Biden praised the House­’s vote.

“Tonight, the House took a crit­i­cal step for­ward to pre­vent a first-ever default and pro­tect our country’s hard-earned and his­toric eco­nom­ic recov­ery. This bud­get agree­ment is a bipar­ti­san com­pro­mise. Nei­ther side got every­thing it want­ed. That’s the respon­si­bil­i­ty of gov­ern­ing. I want to thank Speak­er McCarthy and his team for nego­ti­at­ing in good faith, as well as Leader Jef­fries for his leadership.”

“This agree­ment is good news for the Amer­i­can peo­ple and the Amer­i­can econ­o­my,” Biden added. “It pro­tects key pri­or­i­ties and accom­plish­ments from the past two years, includ­ing his­toric invest­ments that are cre­at­ing good jobs across the coun­try. And, it hon­ors my com­mit­ment to safe­guard Amer­i­cans’ health care and pro­tect Social Secu­ri­ty, Medicare, and Med­ic­aid. It pro­tects crit­i­cal pro­grams that mil­lions of hard­work­ing fam­i­lies, stu­dents, and vet­er­ans count on.”

“I have been clear that the only path for­ward is a bipar­ti­san com­pro­mise that can earn the sup­port of both par­ties. This agree­ment meets that test. I urge the Sen­ate to pass it as quick­ly as pos­si­ble so that I can sign it into law, and our coun­try can con­tin­ue build­ing the strongest econ­o­my in the world.”

Kevin McCarthy like­wise took a vic­to­ry lap after the vote, though The New York Times’ Carl Hulse observed McCarthy owed the suc­cess­ful out­come to his coun­ter­part, House Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Hakeem Jef­fries: “He man­aged to do so only with sig­nif­i­cant help from across the aisle, as Democ­rats res­cued him on a key pro­ce­dur­al vote and then pro­vid­ed the sup­port need­ed for passage.”

Sen­a­tor Mitch McConnell, the Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader, backs the leg­is­la­tion, and will pro­vide votes from his cau­cus to pass it in the Sen­ate, allow­ing Major­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer to not have to wor­ry about los­ing some of his members.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon announced today in a thought­ful state­ment that he’s a no, for exam­ple, and he’ll prob­a­bly be joined by oth­er pro­gres­sive sen­a­tors like Eliz­a­beth War­ren and Bernie Sanders in oppos­ing the bill.

Jaya­pal released a lengthy state­ment explain­ing why she vot­ed no. It is an excel­lent state­ment and we rec­om­mend read­ing it in its entirety:

This was a deal nego­ti­at­ed while the extreme MAGA Repub­li­cans held the Amer­i­can peo­ple hostage. It is absolute­ly unac­cept­able that they refused to com­ply with their con­sti­tu­tion­al oblig­a­tion of lift­ing the debt ceil­ing, as has been done by Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats 78 times. We appre­ci­ate the Pres­i­dent and White House nego­ti­at­ing on behalf of the peo­ple giv­en the circumstances.

I am also very grate­ful to Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Jef­fries for being a strong voice against MAGA extrem­ists and FOR the Amer­i­can peo­ple. I am clear that we sim­ply could not allow the coun­try to default — that is who we are as respon­si­ble Democ­rats nego­ti­at­ing with an extreme par­ty that was will­ing to take this coun­try over the cliff with a cat­a­stroph­ic default.

How­ev­er, at the same time, we must be clear that this hostage-tak­ing is absolute­ly unac­cept­able and that there will be very real con­se­quences for work­ing peo­ple and poor peo­ple who will now be forced to resume crip­pling stu­dent debt pay­ments, pre­dom­i­nant­ly Black and Brown women who will be kicked off food assis­tance because they will be forced into work­ing as they enter their senior years, and peo­ple every­where who will be forced to live with more envi­ron­men­tal injus­tice. They are all the ones being forced to pay for this hostage-tak­ing by Repub­li­cans who are now clear­ly on the record of want­i­ng to pro­tect the wealth­i­est indi­vid­u­als and cor­po­ra­tions at the expense of poor and work­ing people.

This leg­is­la­tion puts unnec­es­sary hur­dles between poor peo­ple, includ­ing old­er Amer­i­cans, and nutri­tion assistance.

It claws back more than $21 bil­lion in fund­ing meant to ensure the wealthy and cor­po­ra­tions pay their fair share in tax­es, caps any increas­es in non-defense spend­ing at a time when infla­tion has been on the rise, also effec­tive­ly low­er­ing the base­line for rais­ing non-defense spend­ing in future years, removes the President’s abil­i­ty to con­tin­ue the stu­dent loan pay­ment pause, and gives pol­lut­ing cor­po­ra­tions a greater role in prepar­ing their own envi­ron­men­tal reviews, allow­ing them to skew nec­es­sary data.

In Wash­ing­ton State, we may see real effects on reduc­tions of Emer­gency Relief Funds for edu­ca­tion and on the imple­men­ta­tion of new SNAP require­ments that will dis­rupt the process for SNAP recip­i­ents and cre­ate new churn in the sys­tem. As a state that has led on cli­mate change, we also know that there is a very con­cern­ing prece­dent set by the approvals of the Moun­tain Val­ley Pipeline.

While the Biden admin­is­tra­tion was able to walk back many of the extreme GOP’s worst ideas, we should nev­er have got­ten to this place. This was a man­u­fac­tured cri­sis where Repub­li­cans took our econ­o­my hostage – and it sets a very dan­ger­ous prece­dent – that Repub­li­cans can ignore the rule of law, ignore our oblig­a­tion to pay our debts, and ignore the needs of our con­stituents, all to advance their polit­i­cal priorities.

This is not the way that Con­gress should do busi­ness. This process pushed our econ­o­my to the brink of cat­a­stro­phe and could have dev­as­tat­ed work­ing fam­i­lies across this coun­try. I vot­ed no today to reg­is­ter my objec­tions in both pol­i­cy and prin­ci­ple and to ensure that peo­ple across the coun­try know we are stand­ing up for them and against these extreme MAGA Repub­li­cans. We can­not allow this to become the norm in future nego­ti­a­tions and as soon as Democ­rats retake the major­i­ty, I will con­tin­ue advo­cat­ing to give the Depart­ment of Trea­sury the abil­i­ty to raise the debt ceiling.

We strong­ly agree with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaya­pal’s com­ments and thank her for so artic­u­late­ly describ­ing the harm­ful pro­vi­sions con­tained with­in this bill.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene, who rep­re­sents NPI’s home con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, the 1st, vot­ed the oth­er way; here’s what she had to say about her vote:

The bipar­ti­san bud­get agree­ment that I sup­port­ed today will pro­tect Amer­i­can fam­i­lies and our econ­o­my from a dev­as­tat­ing default on our nation’s bills. It also will shield our vet­er­ans, seniors, law enforce­ment, and schools from the worst of the extreme House Repub­li­can demands they issued while hold­ing our econ­o­my hostage.

This deal is far from perfect.

Com­pro­mise means that no one gets every­thing they want in a nego­ti­a­tion. The worse out­come here was default.

I thank Pres­i­dent Biden and Leader Jef­fries for their work to reach this deal and pass it through the House. The Sen­ate must imme­di­ate­ly take up this leg­is­la­tion and get it to the president’s desk.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mar­i­lyn Strick­land also vot­ed yea; here’s her statement:

Tonight, I vot­ed in favor of the Fis­cal Respon­si­bil­i­ty Act to pro­tect the full faith and cred­it of the Unit­ed States and avoid a cat­a­stroph­ic default that would hurt our economy.

I vot­ed to pro­tect fam­i­lies, jobs, seniors, vet­er­ans, chil­dren and our econ­o­my from irre­versible harm and ensure that Social Secu­ri­ty, Medicare, and Med­ic­aid ben­e­fits are intact. I call on my Sen­ate col­leagues to swift­ly pass this bill and send it to Pres­i­dent Biden’s desk to ensure the U.S. econ­o­my remains strong and stable.

If the Sen­ate amends the leg­is­la­tion, it would need to return to the House for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion. Sen­a­tor Schumer has said he would like to avoid that, which will require the rejec­tion of any amend­ments pro­posed in the Senate.

Tuesday, May 30th, 2023

Scrapping the Alaska king salmon troll season will hurt fishing communities without helping our endangered southern resident orcas

A law­suit that seeks to halt the south­east Alas­ka com­mer­cial salmon troll fish­ery, brought by Wild Fish Con­ser­van­cy (WFC) on behalf of our south­ern res­i­dent orcas out of con­cern for their sur­vival, has become a big top­ic of dis­cus­sion in the Last Fron­tier and in the PNW’s fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties after a fed­er­al court judge recent­ly ruled in favor of the WFC, putting the upcom­ing fish­ing sea­son in jeop­ardy.

The State of Alas­ka is appeal­ing to the Ninth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals, hop­ing to secure an appel­late rul­ing that would keep the fish­ery open this year.

WFC claims the deci­sion “will final­ly pro­vide the starv­ing south­ern res­i­dent pop­u­la­tion of orcas with far greater prey, mark­ing a turn­ing point for their survival.”

I call this a one-sided and dis­tort­ed view of the matter.

To under­stand how we got here, some back­ground is in order.

“The Wild Fish Con­ser­van­cy (WFC) sued the Nation­al Marine Fish­eries Ser­vice (NMFS) over NMFS’ 2019 Bio­log­i­cal Opin­ion (BiOp), which is the doc­u­ment that pro­vides Endan­gered Species Act cov­er­age to all south­east Alaska’s salmon fish­eries, the Alas­ka Long­line Fishermen’s Asso­ci­a­tion, ALFA, explains in this primer, which is avail­able for read­ing on their web­site. “The Court found the BiOp to be inad­e­quate on a num­ber of counts that are large­ly tech­ni­cal, or process related.”

Briefly, NMFS pre­pared an analy­sis of the south­east Alas­ka salmon fish­eries and an asso­ci­at­ed con­ser­va­tion pro­gram. One com­po­nent would increase hatch­ery chi­nook and thus would increase prey avail­abil­i­ty for south­ern res­i­dent orcas. The BiOp con­clud­ed that Alas­ka salmon fish­eries would harm nei­ther the orcas nor sev­er­al at risk Chi­nook stocks. The court decid­ed that the NMFS would need to devel­op a more spe­cif­ic con­ser­va­tion plan, which the NMFS intends to do.

There are ten orca pop­u­la­tions in the north­east­ern Pacif­ic Ocean. Only the south­ern res­i­dents are deal­ing with a pop­u­la­tion decline, and only the south­ern res­i­dents are list­ed under the Endan­gered Species Act. In fact, the pop­u­la­tion that is native to south­east Alas­ka, where the troll fish­ery is catch­ing Chi­nook, is doing just fine. The paper goes on to state that the caus­es of decline are uncer­tain, but most sci­en­tists believe it’s a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, such as:

I. Ves­sel traf­fic impacts

“The waters of the Sal­ish Sea are get­ting loud­er due to an increase in oil tankers, freighters, fer­ries, cruise ships, com­mer­cial and pri­vate ves­sels, naval sonar, under­wa­ter con­struc­tion, drilling and resource explo­ration,” notes the Geor­gia Strait Alliance. “The fre­quen­cy of sound emit­ted depends on a vessel’s engine type, pro­peller design, speed and dis­tance from wildlife. The tem­per­a­ture and salin­i­ty of the water can also impact under­wa­ter noise.”

“Ini­tial research has indi­cat­ed that ves­sel traf­fic dimin­ish­es South­ern Res­i­dent orcas’ hunt­ing abil­i­ty by rough­ly 23 per­cent, with com­mer­cial ships respon­si­ble for two-thirds of that reduc­tion,” the alliance says. “Whale watch­ing ves­sels of all types — com­mer­cial and recre­ation­al — account for the remain­ing third.”

II. Con­t­a­m­i­nants

Because they spend much of their time in Puget Sound, which is con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed, and because they are at the top of the marine food chain, the south­ern res­i­dents are among the marine mam­mals most exposed to contaminants.

III. Marine mam­mal pre­da­tion on salmon

Between 1970 and 2015, chi­nook con­sump­tion by pin­nipeds increased over 90%. They eat twice as many chi­nook as the orcas and six times as much as har­vest­ed in com­mer­cial and recre­ation­al fisheries.

Inter­est­ing­ly, in 2012 WFC sued to stop the killing of sea lions that were feed­ing on endan­gered salmon – many of them chi­nook — con­gre­gat­ing below the Bon­neville Dam on the Colum­bia Riv­er. So WFC doesn’t want to stop sea lions from killing chi­nook, but then they claim that there aren’t enough chinook.

IV. Dete­ri­o­rat­ing habi­tat conditions

Increas­ing human pop­u­la­tion and degra­da­tion of habi­tat, not fish­eries, is the pri­ma­ry prob­lem for Puget Sound chinook.

While habi­tat con­di­tions have dete­ri­o­rat­ed for both south­ern res­i­dents and chi­nook salmon, the Pacif­ic Salmon Treaty has reduced Alas­ka troll fish­ery catch by over 30% since 1985, and has tied the catch quo­ta to chi­nook abundance.

Since that time, the reduced troll catch result­ed in increased num­bers of chi­nook salmon return­ing to areas near their natal streams by over a third, but the south­ern res­i­dent orca pop­u­la­tion grew by only 2%. “Mul­ti­ple analy­sis con­clud­ed that addi­tion­al cuts to already low ocean fish­ery exploita­tion rates would be unlike­ly to help recov­er the south­ern res­i­dent orca population.”

WFC also has filed anoth­er law­suit to halt WDFW hatch­ery pro­grams rear­ing near­ly 23.6 mil­lion Chi­nook, coho, and chums.

The Chi­nook pro­duced in those hatch­ery pro­grams are intend­ed to help recov­er nat­ur­al runs and increase prey for south­ern res­i­dent orcas.

Law­suits can be a poor way to man­age nat­ur­al resources. Advo­cates can present fig­ures that sup­port their posi­tion, leav­ing a judge, who is not an expert in the issue, to decide based on argu­ments, rather than on the facts.

The south­east Alas­ka troll fish­ery is sus­tain­ably man­aged under the Pacif­ic Salmon Treaty based on the abun­dance of chi­nook salmon that spend most of their lives feed­ing in the Gulf of Alas­ka. Less than one per­cent of Puget Sound chi­nook pop­u­la­tions, which are impor­tant to the south­ern res­i­dents, are tak­en in the south­east Alas­ka troll fish­ery, so impacts from that fish­ery are extreme­ly low.

Con­sumers of seafood, retail­ers and restau­rants should feel con­fi­dent that the Alas­ka troll fish­ery is not deplet­ing the prey of south­ern res­i­dent orcas, nor is it reduc­ing the orcas’ abundance.

The WFC law­suits remind me of the “fish wars” of the past, when peo­ple were fight­ing over small­er and small­er shares of the resource. Instead, if salmon and orcas are to sur­vive, we need to work togeth­er to find solu­tions to the prob­lems of habi­tat loss, pol­lu­tion and cli­mate dam­age, all of which are impact­ing both salmon and whales. Here’s a sum­ma­ry of orga­ni­za­tions work­ing in this space:

  • Save our Wild Salmon is a coali­tion of up to fifty orga­ni­za­tions work­ing togeth­er pos­i­tive­ly to find solu­tions to increase wild salmon populations.
  • There’s also SalmonState, which advo­cates for sci­ence-based deci­sion mak­ing, pre­cau­tion­ary man­age­ment, and for Alaskans to have a voice in what hap­pens to our wild salmon. Here is their response to the lawsuit.
  • There is Salmon Beyond Bor­ders, an orga­ni­za­tion of Alaskans and Cana­di­ans who are pro­tect­ing salmon that use the trans­bound­ary rivers.
  • South­east Alas­ka Con­ser­va­tion Coun­cil also stands with South­east trollers.
  • In Wash­ing­ton, there are the Region­al Fish­eries Enhance­ment Groups, which were designed to ben­e­fit and improve coop­er­a­tive efforts to increase salmon populations.

Fishermen’s liveli­hoods depend on healthy salmon runs. As a result, many fish­er­men are con­ser­va­tion­ists by nature. Con­flicts between con­ser­va­tion-mind­ed peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions only serve to under­mine oppor­tu­ni­ties for strength­en­ing fish­eries. The envi­ron­men­tal move­ment should com­mit itself to projects that will improve the resource to sus­tain­ably ben­e­fit fish, fish­er­men, and whales.

Sunday, May 28th, 2023

Slimy Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gets impeached by his fellow Republicans

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Ken Pax­ton of Texas was indict­ed for secu­ri­ties fraud in 2015, and in 2020 saw four top aides call him a crook and quit on him.

But it took until May 27th, 2023, for the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Lone Star state to impeach the shady Attor­ney Gen­er­al on mul­ti­ple charges of cor­rup­tion and per­form­ing favors for a wealthy contributor.

The saga of Pax­ton, now sus­pend­ed from office pend­ing a Sen­ate tri­al, car­ries nation­al lessons in the lengths to which the polit­i­cal right shows loy­al­ty, and meet out pun­ish­ment to those who dare to ques­tion even con­duct that is outrageous.

Pax­ton filed a law­suit, after the 2020 elec­tion, seek­ing to block the count­ing of elec­toral votes from Michi­gan, Penn­syl­va­nia, Geor­gia and Ari­zona. The Supreme Court refused to hear it. Pax­ton has also waged war against DACA, the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals ini­tia­tive, which allows migrants who arrived as very young chil­dren to con­tin­ue liv­ing in the Unit­ed States.

The state’s Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry vot­ers love him for it. Pax­ton faced George P. Bush, son of a Flori­da gov­er­nor, nephew and grand­son of pres­i­dents, in a 2022 pri­ma­ry runoff and licked Bush by a mar­gin of bet­ter than two-to-one.

The fall of Pax­ton was pre­cip­i­tat­ed not by tak­ing bribes or obstruct­ing jus­tice, or per­suad­ing devel­op­er-cam­paign donor Nate Paul to find a job for a woman with whom the AG was hav­ing an extra­mar­i­tal affair. It came when he tried to sad­dle the state of Texas with a $3.3 mil­lion set­tle­ment with the four fired aides.

Even after a Repub­li­can-run com­mit­tee drew up a bill of par­tic­u­lars, Pax­ton still had an amen cor­ner. “Ken Pax­ton is the best attor­ney gen­er­al in the entire coun­try… this witch hunt is a dis­grace,” tweet­ed U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ron­ny Jack­son, R‑Texas, adding in ref­er­ence to House Speak­er Dade Phe­lan: “Dude Phalen ought to be ashamed of himself.”

Phe­lan is “bare­ly a Repub­li­can at all,” grum­bled Don­ald Trump, who rant­ed: “Hope­ful­ly, Repub­li­cans in the Texas House will agree that this is a very unfair process that should not be allowed to hap­pen or pro­ceed – I will fight you if it does. It is the rad­i­cal left Democ­rats, RINOS and Crim­i­nals that nev­er stop. Elec­tion inter­fer­ence.”

Defend­ing Pax­ton, Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz, R‑Texas, declared: “No attor­ney gen­er­al has bat­tled the abus­es of the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion more fero­cious­ly – and more effec­tive­ly – than has Paxton.”

As for Pax­ton, he has described the “ille­gal impeach­ment scheme” as the work of “the abor­tion indus­try and anti-gun zealots.”

But the House vote wasn’t even close. Impeach­ment car­ried by a 121–23 mar­gin, includ­ing a major­i­ty of Repub­li­cans. It was a vic­to­ry for Texas’ tra­di­tion­al ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive rulers over the far-right, ultra MAGA fringe of the party.

Said State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive David Spiller, a pro-impeach­ment Repub­li­can: “Attor­ney Gen­er­al Pax­ton con­tin­u­ous­ly and bla­tant­ly vio­lat­ed laws, rules, poli­cies and pro­ce­dures. As a body we should not be com­plic­it… Texas is bet­ter than that.”

Is it? The Lone Star state’s tra­di­tion­al rulers are quite will­ing to out­law abor­tion, short­change spe­cial needs kids in the state’s edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem, make the poor breathe pol­lut­ed air and deny cli­mate change. They deploy numer­ous gam­bits to make it dif­fi­cult for dis­cour­age col­lege stu­dents and work­ing poor peo­ple to vote. They looked the oth­er way for more than sev­en years and act­ed only when Pax­ton tried to rip off the state trea­sury to set­tle with his for­mer deputies.

In a wider sense, the “wacko birds” – I love John McCain’s phrase for them – will over­look just about any­thing in their quests for reac­tion, ret­ri­bu­tion and revenge. The reli­gious right and ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic bish­ops ignore Trump’s mul­ti­ple sins and have blessed his pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns. Mur­doch’s Fox pun­dits have broad­cast claims of a stolen 2020 elec­tion which they knew to be false.

Vengeance is the goal of gov­ern­ing with these people.

Pre­sid­ing over the Sen­ate tri­al will be Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Dan Patrick, high in the aviary of wacko birds. Patrick gained noto­ri­ety three years ago when he told Tuck­er Carl­son that he would rather die from the fast-spread­ing COVID-19 pan­dem­ic than dam­age the econ­o­my for future generations.

The cheat­ed-on wife of AG Pax­ton is also a state sen­a­tor. One of the twen­ty arti­cles of impeach­ment states that Paul paid for exten­sive ren­o­va­tion of the Pax­ton home which includ­ed coun­ter­tops val­ued at around $20,000.

A two-thirds vote is required for con­vic­tion by the Texas Sen­ate, its cur­rent make­up nine­teen Repub­li­cans and twelve Democ­rats. In the mean­time, Gov. Greg Abbott has the option of nam­ing an inter­im successor.

Abbott, Paxton’s pre­de­ces­sor as AG, has remained silent on the impeach­ment. Trump used his social media plat­form on Sat­ur­day to say: “Miss­ing in action! Where is the Gov­er­nor of Texas on his Attor­ney General’s impeachment?”

The polar­iz­ing of Amer­i­can has pro­duced one-par­ty states. The Repub­li­cans in Texas have used ger­ry­man­der­ing to dom­i­nate the leg­is­la­ture, and wealthy right-wing donors to fill their cam­paign coffers.

Still, there is pres­sure: Even poli­cies that seem far right to the rest of Amer­i­ca do not go far enough. Texas has expe­ri­enced a rash of mass shoot­ings, yet leg­is­la­tors have loos­ened rather than strength­en gun safe­ty laws.

The infight­ing among Repub­li­cans may encour­age some to view Paxton’s actions as a prod­uct of Texas’ polit­i­cal cul­ture. Look again.

Sev­en­teen fel­low AGs and one hun­dred and twen­ty-six mem­bers of the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives – a major­i­ty of the Repub­li­can cau­cus — signed on with his chal­lenge to count­ing elec­toral votes in the 2020 election.

One of those mem­bers, Kevin McCarthy, is now House Speak­er, put in pow­er and kept in office by ultra MAGA wacko birds.

Sunday, May 28th, 2023

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (May 22nd-26th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing May 26th, 2023.

The Unit­ed States Sen­ate was in recess.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

FORCING STUDENTS TO PAY BACK LOANS: The House on May 24th passed a res­o­lu­tion (H.J. Res. 45), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bob Good, R‑Virginia, to dis­ap­prove of and void an Edu­ca­tion Depart­ment rule issued last Octo­ber that sus­pend­ed or can­celled pay­ments on stu­dent loans.

Good said: “Con­gress must reclaim its pow­er and act today to stop the uni­lat­er­al action of Pres­i­dent Biden that is exac­er­bat­ing the high­er edu­ca­tion finan­cial cri­sis.” A res­o­lu­tion oppo­nent, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive James Clyburn, D‑South Car­oli­na, said: “Pres­i­dent Biden’s stu­dent loan debt relief plan will help alle­vi­ate the yoke of stu­dent loan debt for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.” The vote was 218 yeas to 203 nays.

Marie Glue­senkamp Perez (D‑Washington) and Jared Gold­en (D‑Maine) were the only Democ­rats to vote in favor of the resolution.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

Vot­ing Nay (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Val Hoyle, and Andrea Salinas

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (3): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Marie Glue­senkamp Perez; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Vot­ing Nay (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 yea votes, 11 nay votes, 1 not voting

VOIDING ANOTHER RULE TO PROTECT AMERICANS FROM POLLUTION: The House on May 23rd passed a res­o­lu­tion (S.J. Res. 11), spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Deb Fis­ch­er, R‑Nebraska, to dis­ap­prove of and void an Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) rule for restrict­ing ozone, par­tic­u­late mat­ter, and oth­er forms of air pol­lu­tion from heavy-duty motor vehi­cles that was issued this January.

A res­o­lu­tion sup­port­er, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bill John­son, R‑Ohio, called the rule an imprac­ti­cal mea­sure that would cre­ate heavy costs for “trucks that not only deliv­er all the goods we rely on but also trucks for our farm­ers and ranch­ers, build­ing con­trac­tors and land­scap­ers, and count­less oth­er work­ers and small businesses.”

An oppo­nent, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Frank Pal­lone Jr., D‑New Jer­sey, said: “This res­o­lu­tion is yet anoth­er extrem­ist, Repub­li­can attack on com­mon­sense steps EPA is tak­ing to pro­tect Amer­i­cans’ health and the environment.”

The vote was 221 yeas to 203 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

Vot­ing Nay (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Val Hoyle, and Andrea Salinas

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Vot­ing Nay (8): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Cas­ca­dia total: 5 yea votes, 12 nay votes, 1 not voting

PUNISHMENTS FOR USING FENTANYL-LIKE SUBSTANCES: The House has passed the Halt All Lethal Traf­fick­ing of Fen­tanyl Act (H.R. 467), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mor­gan Grif­fith, R‑Virginia. The bill would clas­si­fy fen­tanyl-relat­ed sub­stances as a sched­ule 1 con­trolled sub­stance, deemed to have a high poten­tial for abuse, with no med­ical val­ue, and sub­ject to cer­tain legal penal­ties as a result.

Grif­fith said assign­ing per­ma­nent sched­ule 1 sta­tus to the sub­stances “will strength­en law enforce­men­t’s abil­i­ty to pros­e­cute fen­tanyl traf­fick­ers and act as a deter­rent” to traf­fick­ing. A bill oppo­nent, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Frank Pal­lone Jr., D‑New Jer­sey, said it “will leave our com­mu­ni­ties worse off and exac­er­bate exist­ing inequities in our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem” by lead­ing to dis­pro­por­tion­ate crim­i­nal penal­ties for minor­i­ty groups. The vote was 289 yeas to 133 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (4): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Andrea Sali­nas and Val Hoyle

Vot­ing Nay (2): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci and Earl Blumenauer

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (8): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, Kim Schri­er, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (2): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Prami­la Jaya­pal and Adam Smith

Cas­ca­dia total: 14 yea votes, 4 nay votes

FENTANYL TRAFFICKING: The House on May 22nd passed the Pre­vent­ing the Financ­ing of Ille­gal Syn­thet­ic Drugs Act (H.R. 1076), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mon­i­ca De La Cruz, R‑Texas, to require the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office to study the role of illic­it financ­ing of traf­fick­ing in fen­tanyl, metham­phet­a­mine, and sim­i­lar dan­ger­ous syn­thet­ic drugs. De La Cruz said the study “will help law enforce­ment pin­point the busi­ness mod­el of the traf­fick­ers, how they move and hide their prof­its, and what the U.S. can do to stop fen­tanyl mon­ey laundering.”

The vote was 402 yeas to 2 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (6): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Val Hoyle, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Andrea Sali­nas; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (10): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 17 yea votes, 1 not voting

SYSTEMIC RISKS ON U.S. FINANCIAL STABILITY FROM CHINA: The House has passed the Chi­na Finan­cial Threat Mit­i­ga­tion Act (H.R. 1156), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Abi­gail Davis Span­berg­er, D‑Virginia. The bill would require the Trea­sury Depart­ment to make a report on the impacts Chi­na’s finan­cial sec­tor could have on the U.S. and its finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty, as well as ways for the U.S. to work with oth­er coun­tries to mit­i­gate risks posed by China.

A sup­port­er, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joyce Beat­ty, D‑Ohio, said: “We must have a clear pic­ture of the sys­temic risks we face so we can respond appro­pri­ate­ly to safe­guard our eco­nom­ic inter­ests and mit­i­gate these threats.”

The vote was 400 yeas to 5 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (6): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Val Hoyle, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Andrea Sali­nas; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (10): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 17 yea votes, 1 not voting

FAILED OVERRIDE OF SOLAR PANEL IMPORTS RESOLUTION VETO: The House on May 24th failed to over­ride Pres­i­dent Biden’s veto of a res­o­lu­tion (H.J. Res. 39), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bill Posey, R‑Florida, to dis­ap­prove of and void a Com­merce Depart­ment rule sus­pend­ing duties on imports of solar pan­els that were assem­bled in South­east Asia and used com­po­nents made in China.

Posey said Chi­na has been using forced labor to make the poly­sil­i­con that is used to assem­ble pan­els in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries and cir­cum­vent U.S. tar­iffs on Chi­nese-made pan­els. There­fore, “if we pass this res­o­lu­tion, we can help put a stop to Chi­na’s cheat­ing and slave labor.” An oppo­nent, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Thomp­son, D‑California, said: “We all want solar prod­ucts man­u­fac­tured right here at home; but in the short run, our domes­tic indus­try can’t increase pro­duc­tion rapid­ly enough to meet demand or to meet our cli­mate goals.”

The vote, on May 24, was 214 yeas to 205 nays, with a two-thirds thresh­old required to over­ride the veto. The thresh­old was not met.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

Vot­ing Nay (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Val Hoyle, and Andrea Salinas

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (3): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Marie Glue­senkamp Perez; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Vot­ing Nay (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 yea votes, 11 nay votes, 1 not voting

VETERANS AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION: The House on May 24th passed the VET-TEC Autho­riza­tion Act (H.R. 1669), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Juan Cis­co­mani, R‑Arizona, to require the Vet­er­ans Affairs Depart­ment to make per­ma­nent a pro­gram for pro­vid­ing aid to up to 8,000 vet­er­ans for enrolling in non-degree train­ing or skills cours­es that are relat­ed to com­put­er pro­gram­ming, media appli­ca­tion, data pro­cess­ing, or infor­ma­tion sciences.

Cis­co­mani said that since it began in 2019, “not only has this pro­gram been ben­e­fi­cial for our vet­er­ans, but it is cru­cial for our employ­ers, as well. We need a skilled work­force work­ing in the tech indus­try, and our vet­er­ans are the per­fect fit.” The vote was 409 yeas to 9 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (6): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Val Hoyle, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Andrea Sali­nas; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (10): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Not Vot­ing (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schrier

Cas­ca­dia total: 15 yea votes, 2 not voting

Key votes ahead

On Wednes­day, the House is slat­ed to take up the debt ceil­ing deal agreed to “in prin­ci­ple” by the White House and Speak­er Kevin McCarthy’s office.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Tar­get­ed News Ser­vice. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

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