Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, March 10, 2006

2006 legislative session wraps up

The session is over for this year. Most legislators will now be focusing on the autumn elections. Some of the highlights, courtesy of the AP:
EARLY BIRDS: Session lasted 59 days, one shy of the 60 allowed for election-year gatherings.

BRAGGING RIGHTS: Lawmakers passed rewrites of state operating, construction and transportation budgets and a package of business tax cuts. Also bills dealing with gay rights, WASL alternatives and remedial help, water, energy and biofuels, medical malpractice, unemployment insurance, sex predators, earlier primary date, tobacco sampling ban, regional transportation, bestiality ban and e-waste.

BURIAL RITES: Lawmakers "offed" bills dealing with eminent domain, health care at Wal-Mart and other large employers, reporter shield law, payday lending restrictions, higher gambling age, a facelift for the Sonics' arena, identity theft and making the Walla Walla sweet our state vegetable.

FREE LUNCH: Maybe not, but lawmakers struck down the $5 day-use fee for parking at state parks.

BUDGET IN 13 SECONDS: Using a $1.6 billion surplus, lawmakers set aside $935 million in various reserve accounts, boosted spending by $522 million and approved over $50 million in business tax cuts.
And speaking of elections - the Seattle Times has an interesting article this morning: "Republicans say legislative moves by Dems dim GOP election hopes". Here's an excerpt:
Democratic leaders acknowledge that the more centrist items on this year's agenda will leave little campaign fodder for the Republicans.

"What are they going to complain about?" [Speaker of the House] Chopp asked.

Even some Republicans are grumbling about how difficult it will be to go after Democrats.

Chopp and the Democrats have been "eating our lunch," said Rep. Fred Jarrett, R-Mercer Island.

Lawmakers on both sides say the odds are good that Democrats will gain seats in the fall and return next year with even bigger majorities.
It's funny. Not so long ago I remember hearing a lot of gleeful predictions from Republican activists (and even some elected officials) who were sure they would be back in the majority after the 2006 elections. Now we're hearing a different story. It keeps changing.

Certainly, the defeat of I-912 last fall was a huge disaster for the Republican Party. Many Republicans were counting on I-912 to put Democrats in an awkward position and give them an advantage going into 2006.

Their gamble backfired.

Perhaps the party will think twice before endorsing any of this year's crop of right wing initiatives, all of which would only hurt Washington State.

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