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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Speaker Chopp vs. Speaker Chopp?

Earlier today I was reading over Speaker Frank Chopp's statement that he sent out about the Homeowner's Bill of Rights last Friday (shortly after the bill cutoff) and noticed that it wasn't consistent with what The Olympian printed for their story on SB 6385 that ran on Saturday. Read on to see what I'm talking about.

Speaker Frank Chopp (statement):
I want to see protections for homeowners, but I want the right protections. The current proposal has come a long way toward common sense solutions, but there are unanswered questions relating to how it would apply in many situations.

There are related issues that can move forward. The House has passed a contractor license bill that will lead to greater accountability and significantly raise standards for homebuilders and subcontractors.

This is a serious policy discussion that has involved many members of my caucus, and it is my sense that the home warranty legislation, in its current form, would not pass a vote on the floor.
....vs. Speaker Frank Chopp (The Olympian):
In an attempt to find a compromise this year, Democratic Rep. Pat Lantz amended the bill to copy the buyer-protections in a 1990 condo law, which later was amended to deal with insurance problems. But many Republican lawmakers and the BIAW raised objections to Lantz's approach, too.

Chopp said it is his "sense" that the bill in its present form could pass in the House.
Emphasis is mine in both places.

Of course, whatever the Speaker's "sense" is, it's probably correct, because few House Democrats are going to vote for something the Speaker tells them not to vote for. This is why we have concentrated our lobbying efforts on the Speaker, asking him to change his position (though we have also repeatedly asked readers to contact their own representatives). Yes, Frank Chopp can be overruled by his caucus, but it rarely happens. House Democrats trust him as a leader.

If the Speaker allowed the bill to go to the floor and requested that his caucus vote it down, it probably would be defeated. On the other hand, if he were neutral and allowed the bill to stand on its own merits before the House, we are confident that it would pass with plenty of Democratic support.

So what's the deal with the excerpts above? Did The Olympian get it wrong? Or is Frank Chopp saying different things? I have to believe it's The Olympian, because the Speaker has at least been consistent in one respect: he won't answer our questions about the "unanswered questions" he says he has with SB 6385.

His statement last Friday contained no specific critique of the amended bill recommended by the Judiciary Committee.

Nor did his comment for KOMO TV's story.

We continue to be told the bill needs to be improved, but we're not told how.


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