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.

Saturday, February 18th, 2023

For over a century, the Pacific Northwest has been a leader in electing women to Congress

Down a cor­ri­dor in the U.S. Capi­tol, near the office of House Major­i­ty Whip, stands the stat­ue of a deter­mined-look­ing woman bear­ing a sheaf of papers.

She was a pio­neer in the cor­ri­dors of pow­er and advo­cate of peace.

Jeannette Pickering Rankin

Jean­nette Pick­er­ing Rankin (1880–1973), a mem­ber of the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives who was elect­ed in 1916 as the first woman to serve in the U.S. Con­gress. Glass neg­a­tive 5 x 7 in. or smaller.

Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jeanette Rankin of Mon­tana was the first woman elect­ed to fed­er­al office and the only mem­ber of Con­gress to vote against U.S. entry into both World Wars I and II.

She would live long enough to come to Seat­tle for a Viet­nam War protest.

She was, nat­u­ral­ly, a North­west­ern­er. Our cor­ner of Amer­i­ca has put more women in high office, and ear­li­er, than any­place else in the country.

Speak­ing of the cor­ri­dors of pow­er, Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray-D-Wash­ing­ton, for­mer preschool teacher from Shore­line, is the new­ly mint­ed chair of the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee and Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore of the U.S. Senate.

Map­ping the his­to­ry and rise of women in our region’s pol­i­tics is a fas­ci­nat­ing enter­prise, full of very dif­fer­ent back­grounds, beliefs, char­ac­ters and contributions.

As this is writ­ten, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal of Seat­tle, is a pan­elist on a CNN Sun­day talk show, in her role as chair of the one hun­dred mem­ber Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Caucus.

A col­league, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene, has just fin­ished a term chair­ing the cen­ter-left New Democ­rats, and has been giv­en the cov­et­ed post as head of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Committee.

The far right has been rep­re­sent­ed by such folk as the late Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Helen Chenoweth, R‑Idaho, who sug­gest­ed we pay for nation­al parks by allow­ing hunt­ing, and could not under­stand why fish runs were con­sid­ered endan­gered when she could by canned salmon in any supermarket.

Two-term Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lin­da Smith, R‑Washington, came out of Phyl­lis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, and lost to Mur­ray in the state’s first Sen­ate con­test to fea­ture a square-off between two women, in the 1998 midterms.

As long ago as 1962, the region was rep­re­sent­ed in the House four women of very dif­fer­ent temperament.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Edith Green, D‑Oregon, a prick­ly for­mer school­teacher, cham­pi­oned fed­er­al aid to edu­ca­tion and head­ed state pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns of John and Robert Kennedy.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gra­cie Pfost, D‑Idaho, was nick­named “Hell’s Belle” for cham­pi­oning a (nev­er built) high dam in Hells Canyon on the Snake River.

Two “gen­tle ladies” from Wash­ing­ton, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Julia But­ler Hansen and Repub­li­can Cather­ine May, joined across par­ty lines as ear­ly advo­cates of pro­hi­bi­tion against sex-based discrimination.

Hansen would become chair of the Inte­ri­or sub­com­mit­tee of the House Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, and boss of fed­er­al spend­ing on pub­lic lands. She was bud­dies with House Speak­er Carl Albert, anoth­er source of power.

Why the North­west? We’re a region set­tled large­ly by peo­ple who left behind ingrown tra­di­tions from else­where. Senior­i­ty-cen­tered polit­i­cal machines have nev­er flour­ished in the Fourth Cor­ner. Hence, there were no patron­age bar­ri­ers, and wait-your-turn argu­ments did not res­onate. Mur­ray was elect­ed to the U.S. Sen­ate after less than a term in the Wash­ing­ton State Senate.

There were only sev­en­teen women in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives when Ore­gon vot­ers sent Edith Green there in 1954.

Today, there are one hun­dred and twen­ty-four women, pri­mar­i­ly Democrats.

Ser­vice in a man’s Con­gress some­times required stubbornness.

Edith Green

Con­gres­sion­al por­trait of Edith Louise Star­rett Green (Jan­u­ary 17, 1910 – April 21, 1987)

Women had to fight for access to the Senate’s mem­bers-only swim­ming pool and gym and to get their own work­out room. The guys had enjoyed splash­ing around in their birth­day suits.

On the pol­i­cy side, Edith Green tried to include gen­der non-dis­crim­i­na­tion lan­guage in the 1964 Civ­il Rights Act. She was laughed at, but had the last laugh eight years lat­er with pas­sage of the Equal Pay Act and Title IX, which opened col­lege ath­let­ics to women. Courage was required when Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jolene Unsoeld, D‑Washington, rep­re­sent­ing tim­ber towns of South­west Wash­ing­ton, refused to dem­a­gogue against courts’ deci­sions on pre­serv­ing old growth forests. She right­ly blamed log exports for plun­der­ing forests.

Pat­ty Murray’s ini­tial cause in Con­gress was get­ting more fed­er­al research mon­ey for dis­eases that impact women, her first Sen­ate floor speech talk­ing about ovar­i­an can­cer and friends who had died from it.

She was ini­tial spon­sor of the 1994 Vio­lence Against Women Act and has fought for twen­ty-eight years to strength­en it.

The Sen­ate now has twen­ty women sen­a­tors, who break bread togeth­er even though Sen­a­tor Mar­sha Black­burn, R‑Tennessee, blabs to right-wing media what gets dis­cussed. It was a lot lone­li­er when Pat­ty Mur­ray and Sen­a­tors Diane Fein­stein and Bar­bara Box­er, D‑California, were elect­ed in 1992. Elder­ly Sen­a­tor Strom Thur­mond of South Car­oli­na behaved inap­pro­pri­ate­ly toward Mur­ray in a Sen­a­tors-only ele­va­tor, not rec­og­niz­ing that she was a colleague.

On the flip side, it’s women who nowa­days demon­strate adult behav­ior and cross-the-aisles col­le­gial­i­ty in today’s polar­ized Congress.

A clas­sic exam­ple: Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, and Lisa Murkows­ki, R‑Alaska, who after the 2014 elec­tion found them­selves the rank­ing Demo­c­rat and Repub­li­can chair of the Sen­ate Ener­gy and Nat­ur­al Resources Committee.

The two “gen­tle ladies” opposed each oth­er on open­ing the Arc­tic Refuge to oil drilling – Murkows­ki for, Cantwell against – but made com­mon cause in suc­cess­ful­ly push­ing for con­struc­tion of new U.S. polar icebreakers.

They appeared togeth­er in Seat­tle not long ago, cel­e­brat­ing the des­ig­na­tion of “nation­al” sta­tus for the Nordic Nation­al Mar­itime Museum.

One more lin­ger­ing obsta­cle, lack of mon­ey. Democ­rats took back the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2006, but with much grum­bling that Cam­paign Com­mit­tee chair Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rahm Emanuel had few women on his “A” list of House chal­lengers. Three months ago, Marie Glue­senkamp-Perez, D‑Washington, scored the nation’s biggest House upset with­out receiv­ing a dime from the DCCC. The next cycle promis­es to be dif­fer­ent with Del­Bene head­ing the DCCC.

The 2024 elec­tion will go down in “her-sto­ry” in the Northwest.

A Demo­c­rat, Tina Kotek, was elect­ed Gov­er­nor of Ore­gon, pre­vail­ing in a con­test of three women to suc­ceed anoth­er woman, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown. Kotek is the third woman to serve as Oregon’s gov­er­nor in the past thir­ty years. The state elect­ed a record four women to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Representative Marie Gluesenkamp Perez

Offi­cial con­gres­sion­al por­trait of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Marie Glue­senkamp Perez

Two women, Glue­senkamp-Perez in Wash­ing­ton and Rep. Mary Pel­tosa, D‑Alaska, flipped House seats pre­vi­ous­ly held by Repub­li­cans. The Ever­green State now has eight women in its twelve-per­son con­gres­sion­al delegation.

Pressed by Trump-endorsed oppo­nents, Sen­a­tors Mur­ray in Wash­ing­ton and Murkows­ki in Alas­ka both won reelection.

Once, long ago, one of the few paths to pub­lic office for women was to suc­ceed a deceased spouse or hus­band. Sen­a­tor Mau­reen Neu­berg­er, D‑Oregon was an exam­ple, in 1960 win­ning the seat held by her late hus­band Sen­a­tor Richard Neu­berg­er. (She won using a slo­gan, “Join the Mau­reen Corps.”)

As recent­ly, Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­s­ki, D‑Maryland, became the first female sen­a­tor elect­ed with no spousal or fam­i­ly bond.

Jeanette Rankin made it into Con­gress on her own – she was a women’s suf­frage advo­cate – but found the House a lone­ly home.

No more. How long will it be until a woman’s place is in that oth­er house down Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue – the White House?

Friday, February 17th, 2023

NPI’s legislation to allow cities and towns to switch their elections to even-numbered years gets a “do pass” recommendation

A pro­posed state law devel­oped by NPI and Sen­a­tor Javier Valdez (D‑46th Dis­trict: Seat­tle) that would give cities and towns the free­dom to switch their elec­tions to even-num­bered years passed out of the Sen­ate State Gov­ern­ment & Elec­tions Com­mit­tee today with a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion, on the final day for pol­i­cy com­mit­tees to send bills up to either Rules or Ways & Means.

Sen­ate Bill 5723 was intro­duced ear­li­er this month with a large num­ber of cospon­sors and had its hear­ing one week ago. In addi­tion to NPI, it is sup­port­ed by the Sight­line Insti­tute, Wash­ing­ton Bus, Asian Coun­sel­ing and Refer­ral Ser­vice, the Wash­ing­ton Com­mu­ni­ty Alliance, and many oth­er organizations.

The Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Cities is also on record as sup­port­ing the bill.

The only oppo­si­tion tes­ti­mo­ny came from NPI’s long­time polit­i­cal foe Tim Eyman.

The bill is straight­for­ward. It cre­ates a process by which cities and towns may change the tim­ing of their reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled elec­tions from odd to even years to take advan­tage of much high­er and more diverse turnout in even years.

Since the 1960s, cities and towns have been required to go in odd years and have no abil­i­ty to change their tim­ing as char­ter coun­ties (like King Coun­ty) can.

But if Sen­ate Bill 5723 pass­es, cities and towns could adopt an ordi­nance, either coun­cil­man­i­cal­ly or by vote of the peo­ple, resolv­ing to change the tim­ing of their elec­tions to even years. Ordi­nances adopt­ed coun­cil­man­i­cal­ly would have to be pre­ced­ed by two pub­lic hear­ings spaced thir­ty days apart, to ensure ample oppor­tu­ni­ty for the peo­ple of the city or town to weigh in on the pro­posed switch.

“To tran­si­tion to even-year elec­tions, the city or town must elect all its posi­tions to one term is that is one year short­er than it would ordi­nar­i­ly be,” the bill’s non­par­ti­san staff report explains.

“After the con­clu­sion of that term—in an even-num­bered year—future terms for that posi­tion will be at their cus­tom­ary length. The ordi­nance or ref­er­en­dum must spec­i­fy at which odd-year elec­tion posi­tions will be elect­ed to short­ened terms.”

“The ordi­nance or ref­er­en­dum switch­ing to even-year elec­tions must be adopt­ed by Jan­u­ary 15th for elec­tions for short­ened terms to take place in that cal­en­dar year.”

The roll call vote on the bill was as follows:

Sup­port­ing a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Sam Hunt (Chair), Javier Valdez (Vice Chair), Pat­ty Kud­er­er, Bob Hasegawa

Offer­ing a “do not pass” rec­om­men­da­tion: Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jeff Wil­son (Rank­ing Mem­ber), Phil For­tu­na­to, Per­ry Dozier

“The data is very clear and we heard in tes­ti­mo­ny that when you have elec­tions in even-num­bered years, more peo­ple vote,” Sen­a­tor Valdez said in a speech urg­ing a do pass rec­om­men­da­tion. “There is no manda­to­ry move to hav­ing local elec­tions move to even years. It is going to be up to those res­i­dents or those local city coun­cilmem­bers to make that move if they so want to.”

Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jeff Wil­son and Phil For­tu­na­to both spoke in opposition.

Wil­son raised the con­cern that even-year bal­lots will get longer under the bill. How­ev­er, this bill was specif­i­cal­ly writ­ten to respond to this objection.

No Wash­ing­ton­ian lives in more than one city or town, and most cities stag­ger their elec­tions, with around half of their posi­tions up in one cycle and half in the oth­er. So even year bal­lots actu­al­ly wouldn’t get much longer than they are today. And if NPI’s bill to nix Tim Eyman’s push polls pass­es the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives (SSB 5082), we will also soon be free­ing up space on even year bal­lots, mak­ing room for legit­i­mate items such as city and town elections.

Sen­a­tor Phil For­tu­na­to raised the con­cern that if city and town elec­tions migrate their elec­tions to even years, costs will go up for the local juris­dic­tions that stay in odd-num­bered years, like fire dis­tricts, and few­er peo­ple will vote in odd years.

But this con­cern is also unfounded.

Turnout in odd years is already ane­mic because so many vot­ers have giv­en up on vot­ing in those annums. Half of the ten worst gen­er­al elec­tion turnouts in Wash­ing­ton State his­to­ry have been in the last five odd-num­bered years.

That’s right: half.

The worst-ever vot­er turnout was in 2017, the sec­ond-worst was in 2015, the third-worst was in 2021, the eighth-worst was in 2019, and the ninth-worst was in 2013.

We can see from look­ing the last twen­ty spe­cial elec­tion turnouts in Feb­ru­ary and April that an aver­age of 35.12% of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers are reli­able, duti­ful vot­ers who will send back a bal­lot regard­less of what’s on it or what time of year it is.

35.12% is basi­cal­ly our cur­rent rock bot­tom aver­age for vot­er participation.

The turnout per­cent­ages we’ve seen in recent odd year elec­tions, espe­cial­ly 2021, 2017, and 2015, have not been much high­er than 35.12%.

Since we’re already approach­ing rock bot­tom in terms of vot­er par­tic­i­pa­tion in Novem­ber of odd-num­bered years, there is unlike­ly to be much impact on odd year turnout rates from cities and towns switch­ing their elec­tions to even years.

As Sen­a­tor Valdez said, our leg­is­la­tion is data-driven.

It was writ­ten care­ful­ly and thought­ful­ly to advance vot­ing jus­tice at the munic­i­pal lev­el with­out cre­at­ing big logis­ti­cal issues for coun­ty elec­tions officials.

No city or town will be forced to change their elec­tion tim­ing, but they will regain the free­dom to choose. If a city or town wants to, it can decide to have its exec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive posi­tions elect­ed at times when turnout is con­sis­tent­ly over fifty or even six­ty per­cent rather than under fifty or forty percent.

The end result will be more inclu­sive city and town gov­ern­ment, with elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives cho­sen by the many rather than a few.

We thank the Sen­ate State Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee for giv­ing our bill a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion so our leg­is­la­tion can receive fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion this ses­sion. Now it’s on to the Rules Committee!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

Seattle social housing initiative (I‑135) ahead in early returns with 21.23% turnout so far

A Seat­tle ini­tia­tive that pro­pos­es to set up a pub­lic devel­op­ment author­i­ty to build pub­licly financed, pub­licly con­trolled hous­ing projects is ahead in ear­ly returns, King Coun­ty Elec­tions’ ini­tial Feb­ru­ary 2023 spe­cial elec­tion tab­u­la­tion shows.

With 21.23% turnout as of Elec­tion Night, Ini­tia­tive 135 had the sup­port of 52.82% of vot­ers, while 47.18% opposed. 102,040 votes have been tal­lied for and against the mea­sure so far. Seat­tle has 480,571 reg­is­tered vot­ers in this election.

I‑135 begin the count­ing peri­od with a 5,739 vote lead.

We assess its chances of pass­ing as strong.

Spon­sored by House Our Neigh­bors, a project of Real Change, I‑135 seeks to cre­ate “an inde­pen­dent, pub­licly fund­ed, com­mu­ni­ty led orga­ni­za­tion with the abil­i­ty to buy up exist­ing hous­ing to turn into social hous­ing, as well as build tru­ly afford­able hous­ing at the scale we need,” accord­ing to a primer from the cam­paign, which the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has endorsed.

“The pub­lic is the sole share­hold­er, mean­ing that pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships in own­er­ship do not exist,” the cam­paign’s FAQ adds. “The Pub­lic Devel­op­er may not sell off assets or shares to the pri­vate mar­ket. Com­mu­ni­ty con­trol means that res­i­dents of the hous­ing make up a vot­ing major­i­ty of the gov­er­nance board. Addi­tion­al­ly, res­i­dent board mem­bers are elect­ed by oth­er residents.”

I‑135 has the sup­port of a large num­ber of civic and pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions; Capi­tol Hill Seat­tle also found that most of the can­di­dates vying to suc­ceed Kshama Sawant in the city’s 3rd Dis­trict were vot­ing yes.

The mea­sure faced no orga­nized or fund­ed oppo­si­tion, but The Seat­tle Times called for a no vote, as did Alice Woldt, David Bloom, and John V. Fox, who devel­oped an oppo­si­tion state­ment for the voter’s pamphlet.

“Cre­at­ing anoth­er agency to com­pete for scarce hous­ing dol­lars that costs sev­er­al mil­lion to set it up before one hous­ing unit is pro­duced doesn’t make sense,” the trio argued. “I‑135 comes with no new fund­ing source. It diverts atten­tion from what’s most impor­tant – pass­ing a new hous­ing levy this fall and find­ing mil­lions more nec­es­sary to over­come the short­fall of need­ed low-cost units.”

House Our Neigh­bors not­ed in response that state law did­n’t allow for a fund­ing source to be includ­ed with I‑135 and con­tend­ed that the Seat­tle Social Hous­ing Devel­op­er would com­ple­ment rather than com­pete with exist­ing efforts to cre­ate attain­able hous­ing for peo­ple who want to live in Seattle.

“The Seat­tle Social Hous­ing Devel­op­er would­n’t seek Sec­tion 8 vouch­ers, Sec­tion 9, or the Low Income Hous­ing Tax Cred­it to finance projects,” HON’s FAQ says.

“We would be able to serve high­er income res­i­dents (those between 61–120% of the Area Medi­an Income) as we would­n’t be restrict­ed by the above list­ed fund­ing mech­a­nisms. We want KCHA [King Coun­ty Hous­ing Author­i­ty, which serves com­mu­ni­ties adja­cent to Seat­tle] to keep doing what they are doing, we see us work­ing in har­mo­ny with cur­rent afford­able hous­ing approaches.”

Con­grat­u­la­tions to House Our Neigh­bors and the coali­tion sup­port­ing I‑135 for secur­ing a major­i­ty of the vote for the ini­tia­tive in the ear­ly returns.

Count­ing will con­tin­ue on week­days for two more weeks, then the elec­tion will be cer­ti­fied and we will know the final results for I‑135.

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

It’s Special Election Day in Seattle and other Washington jurisdictions: Have you voted?

In many juris­dic­tions across Wash­ing­ton State, today is a spe­cial elec­tion day. While it is com­mon knowl­edge that we hold a Top Two elec­tion in August and the gen­er­al elec­tion in Novem­ber of every year, state law also pro­vides for two spe­cial elec­tion win­dows: one in Feb­ru­ary and anoth­er in April.

The Feb­ru­ary 2023 spe­cial elec­tion peri­od con­cludes today.

Mea­sures on this spe­cial elec­tion bal­lot include:

  • King Coun­ty
    • Seat­tle: Ini­tia­tive 135 (social hous­ing) — NPI urges a yes vote
    • Enum­claw School Dis­trict No. 216 Propo­si­tion No. 1
  • Sno­homish County 
    • City of Arling­ton Propo­si­tion No. 1
    • Marysville School Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 1
    • Sno­homish Region­al Fire & Res­cue Propo­si­tion No. 1
  • Pierce Coun­ty
    • Steila­coom His­tor­i­cal School Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 1
    • Ort­ing School Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 1
    • Penin­su­la School Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 1
    • Penin­su­la School Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 2
  • Clark Coun­ty
    • Wood­land School Dis­trict No. 404 Propo­si­tion 1, Replace­ment School Sup­port Levy for Edu­ca­tion­al Pro­grams and Operations
    • Washou­gal School Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 10
    • Washou­gal School Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 11
    • Van­cou­ver School Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 6
  • Spokane Coun­ty
    • New­port School Dis­trict — Replace­ment of Expir­ing Edu­ca­tion­al Pro­grams and Oper­a­tion Levy
    • Spokane Val­ley Fire Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 1
    • Spokane Fire Dis­trict Propo­si­tion No. 1

Sev­er­al oth­er coun­ties also have at least one mea­sure on the ballot.

Most of the mea­sures up for a vote today are school levies and bonds, as is cus­tom­ary for the Feb­ru­ary spe­cial elec­tion window.

If you were sent a bal­lot, please be sure to fill out and send it back in, either through a post office, or by tak­ing it to a drop box. Then check on your fam­i­ly and friends. Make sure that they and you turn out for this spe­cial elec­tion if some­thing’s on the bal­lot: vote and exer­cise your civic responsibilities!

Resources for returning your ballot

The Sec­re­tary of State offers a drop box loca­tor map which includes a com­plete list of loca­tions of bal­lot drop box­es and vot­ing cen­ters for the cur­rent elec­tion.

Bal­lots can also be returned through the U.S. Mail, no stamp needed.

Find your near­est post office using this USPS link.

Separate concurrent election for King Conservation District

There also hap­pens to be a King Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict board elec­tion end­ing today for Seat #3 on the Board of Super­vi­sors Vot­ing. Note that you won’t see this on your bal­lot if you live in Seat­tle or Enum­claw, and if you don’t live in those juris­dic­tions, you won’t get a paper bal­lot from King Coun­ty Elec­tions at all.

This elec­tion is a sep­a­rate, con­cur­rent event which began Jan­u­ary 24th, 2023.

Vot­ing is hap­pen­ing online through this portal.

We oppose online vot­ing at NPI and we renew our stand­ing objec­tion to the man­ner in which con­ser­va­tion dis­trict elec­tions are being conducted.

That said, we know democ­ra­cy does­n’t work if nobody par­tic­i­pates. So please vote. This elec­tion is open to all reg­is­tered vot­ers in King Coun­ty except for vot­ers resid­ing in the cities of Enum­claw, Fed­er­al Way, Mil­ton, Pacif­ic, and Skykomish — those cities don’t par­tic­i­pate in the King Coun­ty Con­ser­va­tion District.

Are you a Seattle voter? Please vote yes on Initiative 135

NPI urges a “yes” vote on Seat­tle Ini­tia­tive 135.

“Ini­tia­tive 135 takes the first step toward the dream of hous­ing for all by cre­at­ing a pub­lic devel­op­er equipped with the tools to ‘build, acquire, own, and man­age’ hous­ing that will stay afford­able for­ev­er,” The Stranger’s Elec­tion Con­trol Board not­ed in its endorse­ment of the mea­sure last month. “Not mar­ket-rate hous­ing, which peo­ple with low incomes can only afford when the econ­o­my crash­es. Not gov­ern­ment-sub­si­dized hous­ing, which devel­op­ers can put back on the unaf­ford­able mar­ket in 20 or 30 years. But social hous­ing; pub­licly owned and oper­at­ed, with rents for­ev­er capped at 30% of a tenant’s income.”

I‑135 is pro­posed by House Our Neigh­bors, a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee of Real Change.

“We are peo­ple with lived expe­ri­ence and advo­cates who are com­mit­ted to end­ing the home­less­ness cri­sis in Seat­tle,” the cam­paign explains. “We rep­re­sent many orga­ni­za­tions that have spent decades propos­ing con­crete solu­tions to improve people’s lives, fund­ed by pro­gres­sive tax­a­tion, that pro­vide paths for peo­ple to gain per­ma­nent hous­ing, and end the con­di­tions that lead to homelessness.”

The Eco­nom­ic Oppor­tu­ni­ty Insti­tute, Pover­ty Action Net­work, Puget Sound Advo­cates for Retire­ment Action, Sier­ra Club Seat­tle, The Urban­ist, and many oth­er civic and pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions are sup­port­ing I‑135 along with Real Change, The Stranger, and the North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute.

At NPI, we believe in the val­ue and util­i­ty of cre­at­ing infra­struc­ture to solve prob­lems. We’re builders. We’re hap­py and hon­ored to stand with House Our Neigh­bors in sup­port of I‑135. We know we have an attain­able hous­ing cri­sis in the Emer­ald City and beyond that requires new and cre­ative solutions.

I‑135 is such a solu­tion, and it deserves vot­ers’ support.

Seat­tle declared a home­less­ness emer­gency in 2015, yet our unhoused pop­u­la­tion has only grown since then — not bet­ter. Oppo­nents have argued in the voter’s pam­phlet and the press that the pub­lic hous­ing devel­op­er I‑135 would cre­ate is unfund­ed and duplica­tive, but the I‑135 orga­niz­ers weren’t legal­ly allowed to pro­pose a fund­ing source as part of the ini­tia­tive and Seat­tle would clear­ly ben­e­fit from more orga­ni­za­tions work­ing on address­ing our hous­ing crisis.

We agree. Please vote yes on I‑135 by 8 PM tonight, Seattle!

Thank you for being a vot­er in this spe­cial election.

Monday, February 13th, 2023

Seattle Times endorses NPI’s legislation to repeal statewide “advisory votes”

Today, the Seat­tle Times pub­lished an excel­lent edi­to­r­i­al endors­ing NPI’s 2023 leg­is­la­tion to repeal statewide “advi­so­ry votes,” which just passed out of the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate last week with bipar­ti­san sup­port and has now arrived in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for fur­ther consideration.

Titled “Boot con­fus­ing advi­so­ry votes from WA bal­lots,” this is a fresh con­tender for our team’s favorite Seat­tle Times edi­to­r­i­al. It’s well writ­ten, has com­pelling open­ing and con­clud­ing pas­sages, and the log­ic that holds it togeth­er is sound.

“If Wash­ing­ton law­mak­ers can do any­thing to make the vot­ing process eas­i­er and pos­si­bly increase vot­er par­tic­i­pa­tion, they should,” the edi­to­r­i­al begins.

“The state Leg­is­la­ture can end the mad­ness of advi­so­ry votes by approv­ing House Bill 1158, or its com­pan­ion Sen­ate Bill 5082, which passed out of the Sen­ate on Wednes­day,” a sub­se­quent pas­sage explains.

The whole edi­to­r­i­al — a brief and enjoy­able read — is worth your time.

With this excel­lent and thought­ful com­men­tary, the Times has now joined The Her­ald of Everett, the Wal­la Wal­la Union Bul­letin, and The Columbian in call­ing for “advi­so­ry votes” to be per­ma­nent­ly scrapped by the Leg­is­la­ture. The Her­ald even restat­ed its posi­tion recent­ly, to empha­size to read­ers and law­mak­ers that this leg­is­la­tion needs to be pri­or­i­tized in the 2023 leg­isla­tive session.

Here are a few excerpts from those oth­er edi­to­ri­als sup­port­ing our bill:

“Mean­while, the impo­tent advi­so­ry votes help to clut­ter the bal­lot and cost tax­pay­ers. This year’s advi­so­ry votes are the only statewide items in front of vot­ers, requir­ing a state Vot­ers’ Pam­phlet that oth­er­wise would be unnec­es­sary. In oth­er words, Wash­ing­ton can do bet­ter.” — “In Our View: Advi­so­ry votes waste tax­pay­er mon­ey” (The Columbian, pub­lished Octo­ber 8th, 2021)

“Unlike a legit­i­mate advi­so­ry vote — one that’s tak­en pri­or to the action of a gov­ern­ment body — the tax “advi­so­ry” votes don’t require any action by state law­mak­ers and don’t inform them pri­or to a par­tic­u­lar vote; they’re lit­tle more than a pub­lic opin­ion poll. And they are no bet­ter than the least accu­rate of polls, a ‘push poll,’ writ­ten to prod a respon­dent to a par­tic­u­lar position.”

– “Ballot’s ‘push polls’ on tax­es don’t advise any­one” (The Her­ald of Everett, pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 11th, 2020)

“The cost of adding the advi­so­ry votes to the bal­lot does not jus­ti­fy con­tin­u­ing this man­date. Andrew Vil­leneuve, founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, said his orga­ni­za­tion looked at the cost of the 2017 elec­tion, find­ing Wal­la Wal­la Coun­ty billed the state $11,438.52 for costs asso­ci­at­ed with the advi­so­ry votes. When the cost incurred by the oth­er 38 coun­ties are cal­cu­lat­ed, it’s clear tax­pay­ers would save by elim­i­nat­ing the advi­so­ry votes. The Leg­is­la­ture has the pow­er to take that action, and should do so.” — “It’s time to end non-bind­ing tax advi­so­ry votes” (Wal­la Wal­la Union Bul­letin, pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 9th, 2020)

As these edi­to­r­i­al boards all rec­og­nize, “advi­so­ry votes” are a misnomer.

Despite their name, they are nei­ther advi­so­ry nor votes, owing to hav­ing been cre­at­ed by Tim Eyman to fur­ther his agen­da of under­min­ing pub­lic con­fi­dence in our elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives and acti­vate a cyn­i­cal, unhealthy state of mind.

Our team has been heart­ened to see sup­port for this wor­thy elec­toral reform leg­is­la­tion increase with each sub­se­quent session.

In addi­tion to our state’s major news­pa­pers, the Wash­ing­ton Asso­ci­a­tion of Coun­ty Audi­tors, the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Jus­tice Coali­tion, and Bal­ance Our Tax Code have all endorsed this leg­is­la­tion, along with our friends at the Eco­nom­ic Oppor­tu­ni­ty Insti­tute, the League of Women Vot­ers, Asian Coun­sel­ing and Refer­ral Ser­vice, Fix Democ­ra­cy First, Major­i­tyRules, and many oth­er organizations.

In the House, one third of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus has signed on to SB 5082’s com­pan­ion bill, includ­ing three key mem­bers of leadership.

We’re look­ing for­ward to work­ing with our state rep­re­sen­ta­tives to bring this bill home and get it to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s desk so it can be signed into law.

Monday, February 13th, 2023

Senator Maria Cantwell: A workhorse for the people and the Pacific Northwest in Congress

She is a prod­uct of the flat­lands of the Mid­west, born in Indi­anapo­lis and edu­cat­ed at Mia­mi of Ohio, but Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell has sum­mit­ed Mount Rainier, the Grand Teton and Kil­i­man­jaro, and ascend­ed the pow­er struc­ture of Con­gress to chair the Sen­ate Com­merce, Sci­ence and Trans­porta­tion Committee.

Cantwell, D‑Washington, is on a roll of late.

Last sum­mer, for instance, she shep­herd­ed the bipar­ti­san CHIPS and Sci­ence Act through the last Con­gress. It’s a law that gives a big finan­cial boost to man­u­fac­ture of semi­con­duc­tors in the Unit­ed States. It is designed to restore Unit­ed States lead­er­ship on a tech­nol­o­gy pio­neered in this country.

More recent­ly, her defense of the great salmon fish­ery of Bris­tol Bay in Alas­ka has drawn atten­tion and commendation.

Cantwell was the first to sug­gest use of the Clean Water Act to block a half-mile-wide cop­per and gold mine devel­op­ers want to build between two of its prime salmon spawn­ing streams. The Biden admin­is­tra­tion deployed the 1972 law ear­li­er this month, effec­tive­ly block­ing con­struc­tion of the pro­posed Peb­ble Mine.

Although on oppo­site sides of the bat­tle over oil and gas drilling in the Arc­tic  Refuge, Cantwell and Sen­a­tor Lisa Murkows­ki, R‑Alaska, teamed to cam­paign for con­struc­tion of new heavy-duty ice­break­ers for use in Arc­tic waters.

Rus­sia has a fleet of such cut­ters. The Unit­ed States has just one remain­ing in oper­a­tion. The ice has bro­ken, so to speak, with con­struc­tion under­way on one ves­sel and design on a second.

Cantwell, six­ty-four, is not one of the usu­al sus­pects seen on net­works’ Sun­day morn­ing talk shows or shout­ing over talk radio. She gets stuff done by mas­ter­ing details, qui­et work with col­leagues and by serv­ing on a trio of A‑list Sen­ate com­mit­tees where leg­is­la­tion is put togeth­er – Com­merce, Ener­gy and Nat­ur­al Resources, and Finance. She is the first Wash­ing­ton sen­a­tor in more than half-a-cen­tu­ry to serve on the Sen­ate Finance Committee.

A bit of his­to­ry is in order. Between 1953 and 1981, Wash­ing­ton was rep­re­sent­ed in Con­gress’ upper cham­ber by Sen­a­tors War­ren G. Mag­nu­son and Hen­ry M. “Scoop” Jack­son. The two Democ­rats were nick­named “the gold dust twins.”

Mag­gie was the state’s provider, ris­ing to chair the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee and secur­ing such projects as the third pow­er­house at Grand Coulee Dam, elec­tric­i­ty for the North­west on cold, dark win­ter days.

Jack­son was the mas­ter leg­is­la­tor (and defense hawk)… the archi­tect of such mea­sures as the Nation­al Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy Act and the Jack­son-Vanik Amend­ment, which denied trade advan­tages to the Sovi­et Union and oth­er coun­tries that restrict­ed immigration.

The Mag­gie-Scoop mod­el is repli­cat­ed today.

Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, chairs Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions, like Mag­gie, and is the first woman elect­ed pres­i­dent pro tem­pore of the Senate.

Maria Cantwell hosting a healthcare town hall

Maria Cantwell smiles as she lis­tens to a con­stituent ques­tion at her health­care town hall (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Cantwell is the leg­is­la­tor and pol­i­cy spe­cial­ist in a wide range of fields.

Cantwell came to Wash­ing­ton as an orga­niz­er of the short-lived 1984 pres­i­den­tial of Sen­a­tor Alan Cranston, D‑California.

She was elect­ed to the Wash­ing­ton Leg­is­la­ture in 1986, and quick­ly became a com­er, help­ing write the state’s Growth Man­age­ment Act while still in her first term. She moved up to the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 1992.

Defeat­ed in the 1994 Repub­li­can land­slide, she became vice pres­i­dent for mar­ket­ing at Real­Net­works, mak­ing a mint which she invest­ed in a 2000 chal­lenge to Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Slade Gor­ton, a mem­ber of the Sen­ate Repub­li­can Lead­er­ship. She nar­row­ly defeat­ed Gor­ton by a mar­gin of 2,229 votes, a vic­to­ry which gave Democ­rats their fifti­eth seat in the Senate.

She made her ini­tial mark by bring­ing to pub­lic atten­tion mem­os and audio tapes by which traders for Enron — the bank­rupt, arro­gant, and extreme­ly cor­rupt Hous­ton ener­gy con­glom­er­ate — had manip­u­lat­ed elec­tric­i­ty prices in the West and pri­vate­ly boast­ed of their mis­deeds. The schemes were enti­tled “don­key punch,” “ping pong,” “Russ­ian roulette,” “spread play” and sidewinder.”

The Enron implo­sion showed Cantwell’s way of oper­at­ing. She mas­ters details. A senior aide was assigned over­sight in dis­man­tling of the Taco­ma Smelter, long a prime source of Puget Sound-area air pol­lu­tion. He dis­cov­ered the boss, too, was metic­u­lous­ly track­ing smelter cleanup. With a series of oil train explo­sions and derail­ments – one in the Colum­bia Gorge – Cantwell became a spe­cial­ist in vapors that can cause a tank car to go up in flames and grit­ty smoke.

Sen­a­tor Ted Stevens, R‑Alaska, tried to slip a pro­vi­sion in the 2005 defense autho­riza­tion bill, open­ing Alaska’s Arc­tic Refuge to oil drilling. Cantwell (and Sen­a­tor Joe Lieber­man of Con­necti­cut) caught it and fil­i­bus­tered the bill.

Stevens explod­ed on the Sen­ate floor, threat­en­ing to come to Wash­ing­ton and cam­paign against Cantwell. The drilling pro­vi­sion was dropped.

Joe Biden greets Maria Cantwell

Joe Biden greets Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell at a cam­paign event in Octo­ber 2014 (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Stevens cam­paigned in Taco­ma and raised mon­ey for Repub­li­can chal­lenger Mike McGav­ick. Cantwell was reelect­ed in 2006 with fifty-sev­en per­cent of the vote. New­ly in the major­i­ty, Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers put her on the Finance Committee.

Cantwell has a gen­er­al­ly pro­gres­sive vot­ing record in the Sen­ate. She vot­ed against con­firm­ing U.S. Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice John Roberts, against renom­i­nat­ing Ben Bernanke to be Fed Chair, and against bail­ing out the banks in 2008 with TARP, diverg­ing from Mur­ray on each vote. Incur­ring anger from some Democ­rats, she sup­port­ed the 2002 res­o­lu­tion which autho­rized deploy­ment of U.S. armed forces against the Sad­dam Hus­sein regime in Iraq.

The “gen­tle lady from Wash­ing­ton” can be tough. As Con­gress wrote the Dodd-Frank Act, tight­en­ing reg­u­la­tion of Wall Street in wake of the Great Reces­sion, Cantwell insist­ed it pro­vide for a con­sumer pro­tec­tion bureau. She made it a con­di­tion for pass­ing the leg­is­la­tion out of the Sen­ate Finance Com­mit­tee. She became an expert in the manip­u­la­tion of deriv­a­tives, finan­cial con­tracts that derive their val­ue from under­ly­ing assets or groups of assets.

She has pros­pered even with the Sen­ate under Repub­li­can con­trol. Cantwell amend­ed a 2019 pub­lic lands bill to put 311,000 acres of Washington’s Methow Val­ley off lim­its to min­ing exploration.

A Cana­di­an firm, respon­si­ble for a tail­ings dam col­lapse in British Colum­bia, had want­ed to drill in the Okanogan-Wenatchee Nation­al Forest.

The Repub­li­cans sought to “green­wash” records of two Repub­li­can law­mak­ers, Sens. Cory Gard­ner, R‑Colorado, and Steve Daines, R‑Montana, with a 2020 vehi­cle, the Great Amer­i­can Out­doors Act.

Cantwell was, at the time, rank­ing Demo­c­rat on the Ener­gy and Nat­ur­al Resources Com­mit­tee. She put into the bill lan­guage pro­vid­ing per­ma­nent autho­riza­tion and rev­enue source for the fed­er­al Land and Water Con­ser­va­tion Fund, which buys up endan­gered wild­lands and recre­ation areas using mon­ey from off­shore oil and gas leas­ing. The Fund was a long-ago cre­ation of Sen­a­tor Jackson.

Cantwell made a trip to Chi­na after her first reelec­tion, com­ing away wor­ried that the Mid­dle King­dom was get­ting a jump on twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry “clean” ener­gy tech­nolo­gies, solar pan­els and wind tur­bines. She has since been a relent­less advo­cate and was a force for includ­ing clean ener­gy sub­si­dies as a major pro­vi­sion of the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act.

Cantwell is no glad­han­der. She tours the Wash­ing­ton econ­o­my when back home, insist­ing on copi­ous brief­ing. She is an exact­ing boss.

One leg­isla­tive intern, set to leave after a summer’s work, dis­cov­ered that two senior aides were depart­ing the same day. Such were ten­sions between can­di­date and her com­mu­ni­ca­tions staff, dur­ing Cantwell’s 2000 cam­paign, that body aide Gavin Lodge gained a nick­name “the human firewall.”

She does get around and gives pri­or­i­ty to this Washington.

One recent spring, Cantwell passed up the Grid­iron Din­ner in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in order to spoon out pota­to sal­ad in the chow line at Pacif­ic Coun­ty Democ­rats’ annu­al crab feed, the old­est con­tin­u­ous polit­i­cal event in the state.

In today’s bit­ter­ly divid­ed Con­gress, the emp­ty drums bang loud­est. A major­i­ty of the Senate’s nine­teen women, how­ev­er, con­tin­ue to col­lab­o­rate and demon­strate adult behav­ior. Cantwell doesn’t make noise. She makes policy.

She may burn the can­dle from three ends, but Cantwell is a base­ball enthu­si­ast. She became the first law­mak­er “of the female per­sua­sion” – to use Dwight Eisenhower’s notable phrase – to play in the annu­al con­gres­sion­al soft­ball game, which rais­es mon­ey for char­i­ty and pits Democ­rats against Republicans.

Sunday, February 12th, 2023

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (February 6th-10th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Feb­ru­ary 10th, 2023.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

ENERGY AND INFORMATION NETWORKS: The House on Feb­ru­ary 6th passed the Ener­gy Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Uni­ver­si­ty Lead­er­ship Act (H.R. 302), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Deb­o­rah K. Ross, D‑North Car­oli­na, to have the Ener­gy Depart­ment estab­lish an Ener­gy Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Uni­ver­si­ty Lead­er­ship Pro­gram for fund­ing research into ener­gy infra­struc­ture and cyber­se­cu­ri­ty by grad­u­ate stu­dents and post-doc­tor­ate researchers.

Ross said the pro­gram “will con­front grow­ing cyber threats against our coun­try’s crit­i­cal ener­gy infra­struc­ture by mak­ing real invest­ments in a strong and diverse work­force that is ready to meet the chal­lenges we face.”

The vote was 357 yeas to 56 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

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

Not Vot­ing (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Derek Kilmer

Cas­ca­dia total: 16 yea votes, 1 nay vote, 1 not voting

ENDING COVID-19 VACCINE REQUIREMENT FOR FOREIGN VISITORS: The House on Feb­ru­ary 8th passed a bill (H.R. 185), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Thomas Massie, R‑Kentucky, to end the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion’s COVID-19 vac­cine require­ment for for­eign­ers vis­it­ing the U.S. by air. (The require­ment does not apply to return­ing U.S. cit­i­zens.) Massie ref­er­enced the “tens of thou­sands, hun­dreds of thou­sands, mil­lions of peo­ple who have been sep­a­rat­ed at our bor­der because of this ridicu­lous, illog­i­cal, unsci­en­tif­ic policy.”

A bill oppo­nent, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Frank Pal­lone Jr., D‑New Jer­sey, said if the man­date end­ed, “I would be very con­cerned about peo­ple com­ing from places like Rus­sia, Chi­na, and Cuba not being vac­ci­nat­ed because of the lack of atten­tion to pub­lic health in those coun­tries.” The vote was 227 yeas to 201 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and 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: 6 yea votes, 12 nay votes

IMPACT OF COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATE: The House on Feb­ru­ary 8th approved an amend­ment spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lau­ren Boe­bert, R‑Colorado, to a bill (H.R. 185, above) that would require the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) to send both cham­bers of Con­gress a report on the num­ber of for­eign­ers denied entry to the U.S. because of the CDC’s COVID vac­cine require­ment for for­eign tourists.

Boe­bert said the report would require the CDC to account for those “who have felt the neg­a­tive ram­i­fi­ca­tions of this rule. It will also pro­vide trans­paren­cy and allow con­gres­sion­al over­sight of the con­se­quences of this vac­cine mandate.”

An oppo­nent, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Frank Pal­lone Jr., D‑New Jer­sey, said the require­ment was a pub­lic health mea­sure, there­fore the pro­posed report was irrel­e­vant. The vote was 253 yeas to 168 nays.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Andrea Salinas

Vot­ing Nay (3):  Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Val Hoyle

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (4): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Marie Glue­senkamp Perez and Kim Schrier

Vot­ing Nay (6): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Cas­ca­dia total: 9 yea votes, 9 nay votes

COVID TESTING AND CHINA: The House on Feb­ru­ary 8th approved an amend­ment spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John W. Rose, R‑Tennesee, to a bill (H.R. 185, above) that would state that it does not impact a recent Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion rule requir­ing vis­i­tors to the U.S. from Chi­na to show proof of a neg­a­tive COVID-19 test or recent recov­ery from COVID-19.

Rose said: “We can­not fall asleep at the wheel when it comes to pro­tect­ing our nation, its peo­ple, and our safe­ty with respect to the adver­sar­i­al and all-too-often nefar­i­ous actions and inten­tions of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China.”

The vote was 426 yeas to 8 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Vot­ing Nay (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 nay vote

DENOUNCING CHINA’S BALLOON SURVEILLANCE: The House on Feb­ru­ary 9th passed a res­o­lu­tion (H. Res. 104), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Michael T. McCaul, R‑Texas, to con­demn Chi­na for send­ing a high-alti­tude sur­veil­lance bal­loon across the U.S. last week as a vio­la­tion of U.S. sov­er­eign­ty. McCaul said the res­o­lu­tion “sends a clear, bipar­ti­san sig­nal to the CCP [Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty] and our adver­saries around the world that this action will not be tolerated.”

The vote was unan­i­mous with 419 yeas.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Yea (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and 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: 18 yea votes

VOIDING D.C. VOTING LAW: The House on Feb­ru­ary 9th passed a res­o­lu­tion (H.J. Res. 24), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive James Com­er, R‑Kentucky, to dis­ap­prove of and void a Dis­trict of Colum­bia city law adopt­ed by its coun­cil allow­ing non-cit­i­zens liv­ing in the Dis­trict to vote in local elections.

A sup­port­er, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nicholas A. Lang­wor­thy, R‑New York, said “D.C.‘s new law poten­tial­ly allows for­eign agents from Chi­na, Rus­sia, and oth­er adver­saries to par­tic­i­pate in local elec­tions held with­in this nation’s cap­i­tal city.”

A res­o­lu­tion oppo­nent, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jamie Raskin, D‑Maryland, said it “vio­lates the prin­ci­ple of local, demo­c­ra­t­ic self-gov­ern­ment, which is at the heart of the home rule char­ter for Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and also vio­lates the equal pro­tec­tion and demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples that ani­mate our Constitution.”

The vote was 260 yeas to 162 nays.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Andrea Salinas

Vot­ing Nay (3): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Val Hoyle

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (6): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Rick Larsen, Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, and Kim Schrier

Vot­ing Nay (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 yea votes, 7 nay votes

VOIDING D.C. CRIMINAL CODE CHANGE: The House on Feb­ru­ary 9th passed a res­o­lu­tion (H.J. Res. 26), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Andrew S. Clyde, R‑Ga., to dis­ap­prove of and void a Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Coun­cil law that made var­i­ous changes to the Dis­tric­t’s crim­i­nal laws, includ­ing reduc­ing pun­ish­ments and expand­ing the right to a jury tri­al for mis­de­meanor cas­es. Clyde said the law, by “elim­i­nat­ing manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tences for all crimes except first-degree mur­der, elim­i­nat­ing life sen­tences, and reduc­ing max­i­mum penal­ties for vio­lent crimes includ­ing bur­glary, car­jack­ing, and rob­beries will undoubt­ed­ly embold­en crim­i­nals and threat­en the safe­ty of both res­i­dents and visitors.”

A res­o­lu­tion oppo­nent, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jamie Raskin, D‑Maryland, said Con­gress “should leave demo­c­ra­t­ic self-gov­ern­ment and local self-gov­ern­ment of Wash­ing­ton to the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton, D.C.”

The vote was 250 yeas to 173 nays.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Andrea Salinas

Vot­ing Nay (3): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Val Hoyle

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (5): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers; Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, and Kim Schrier

Vot­ing Nay (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Cas­ca­dia total: 10 yea votes, 8 nay votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

DEANDREA GIST BENJAMIN, APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Sen­ate on Feb­ru­ary 9th con­firmed the nom­i­na­tion of DeAn­drea Gist Ben­jamin to be a judge on the U.S. Fourth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals. Ben­jamin was a pri­vate prac­tice lawyer with her own law firm in Colum­bia, South Car­oli­na, from 2001 to 2011, and since 2011 has been a cir­cuit court judge in the state.

The vote was 53 yeas to 44 nays.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Yea (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 yea votes, 2 nay votes

Key votes ahead

The House is in recess and no votes are expect­ed next week.

The Sen­ate plans to con­sid­er the nom­i­na­tion of Cindy K. Chung, of Penn­syl­va­nia, to be Unit­ed States Cir­cuit Judge for the Third Cir­cuit, and the nom­i­na­tion of Gina R. Mendez-Miro to be Unit­ed States Dis­trict Judge for the Dis­trict of Puer­to Rico.

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!

© 2023 Tar­get­ed News Ser­vice, LLC. 

Friday, February 10th, 2023

Senate State Government Committee hears NPI’s bill to give cities and towns the freedom to switch their elections to even years

New leg­is­la­tion pro­posed by Sen­a­tor Javier Valdez and the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute that would give Wash­ing­ton’s cities and towns the free­dom to switch their elec­tions to even-num­bered years received its first-ever hear­ing today at the end of the Sen­ate State Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee’s Feb­ru­ary 10th meeting.

SB 5723 had its first read­ing ear­li­er this week in the Sen­ate. It has four­teen cospon­sors — about half of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic caucus.

NPI Leg­isla­tive Direc­tor Kathy Saka­hara, Pro­fes­sor Zoltan Haj­nal of the UC San Diego’s School of Glob­al Pol­i­cy and Strat­e­gy, Anna Fahey of the Sight­line Insti­tute, Jazmine Smith of The Wash­ing­ton Bus, Coun­cilmem­ber Chris Roberts of Shore­line, Wash­ing­ton for Equi­table Rep­re­sen­ta­tion’s Kenia Pere­gri­no, and Coun­cilmem­ber Lind­sey Schromen-Wawrin all spoke elo­quent­ly in favor of the bill.

The com­mit­tee unfor­tu­nate­ly did not have time to hear from the Wash­ing­ton Com­mu­ni­ty Alliance’s Denisse Guer­rero or the Asian Coun­sel­ing and Refer­ral Ser­vice’s Joseph Lach­man, who were also signed up to tes­ti­fy pro.

Judge Kevin Ringus of the Dis­trict & Munic­i­pal Court Judges Asso­ci­a­tion asked that the bill be amend­ed to exclude munic­i­pal judge posi­tions, cit­ing con­cerns about dif­fer­ent munic­i­pal judges being elect­ed in dif­fer­ent cycles.

NPI’s long­time foe Tim Eyman was the only per­son who spoke in opposition.

Our pro speak­ers col­lec­tive­ly made the fol­low­ing great points in their testimony:

  • Data clear­ly shows that when local elec­tions are moved to even-num­bered years, turnout goes way up (as much as dou­bling or more!) and becomes way, way more diverse. With one tim­ing change, we can secure a mas­sive par­tic­i­pa­tion boost in elec­tions for impor­tant local positions.
  • Every aca­d­e­m­ic study con­duct­ed on elec­tion tim­ing for local posi­tions in this coun­try has con­clud­ed that mak­ing this change is a win for democ­ra­cy. You can find links to read each one of these stud­ies at our Coali­tion for Even Year Elec­tions web­site,
  • We know there’s a mas­sive dif­fer­ence between youth vot­er turnout in odd and even-num­bered years. In odd years, it’s ane­mic; in even-num­bered years, it is much more robust. Our young peo­ple are our future and should be involved in select­ing our elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives. We should elect our local posi­tions when they and oth­er under­rep­re­sent­ed groups are more like­ly to vote due to high­er civic aware­ness and increased media coverage.
  • Vot­ers love even year elec­tions for local posi­tions. NPI’s polling has pre­vi­ous­ly found 2:1 sup­port for phas­ing out odd year elec­tions in Wash­ing­ton, and 69% of vot­ers in King Coun­ty last year backed our char­ter amend­ment to move twelve coun­ty posi­tions to even-num­bered years.
  • While Wash­ing­ton and its neigh­bor Ore­gon are both nation­al lead­ers at encour­ag­ing vot­er par­tic­i­pa­tion and have been tied in vot­er turnout in nation­al elec­tions, Wash­ing­ton trails bad­ly behind Ore­gon in local elec­tion vot­er turnout. Washington’s turnout rates in local elec­tion are half of Oregon’s. Wash­ing­ton can do bet­ter and will do bet­ter with this legislation.
  • Sup­port for even year elec­tions spans the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum — sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of Demo­c­ra­t­ic, Repub­li­can, and inde­pen­dent vot­ers are all enthu­si­as­tic. No won­der, then, that all thir­teen bal­lot mea­sures con­cern­ing elec­tion tim­ing on the bal­lot across the coun­try passed dur­ing last year’s midterms — most by over­whelm­ing or lop­sided margins.
  • The expe­ri­ence of oth­er states in the West shows that this reform works. Cal­i­for­nia decid­ed to let cities and towns move their elec­tions to even years in 1986. Ari­zona did it in 2000, and Neva­da did it in 2003. Since then, one city after anoth­er in those states has changed over to even-year elec­tions. They did it when it made sense for them: after char­ter com­mis­sions rec­om­mend­ed it, after city coun­cils vot­ed for it, after vot­ers approved it.
  • In cities like Port Ange­les, we have often seen less than a quar­ter of the reg­is­tered res­i­dents vot­ing in odd-year elec­tions, despite many can­di­dates hav­ing a ded­i­cat­ed inten­tion to increase vot­er par­tic­i­pa­tion through their cam­paigns. State law requires us to hold our city elec­tions in odd years, even though data shows sig­nif­i­cant­ly few­er peo­ple vote in those elections.
  • We have also seen that when cities hold a spe­cial elec­tion for a posi­tion in an even-num­bered year due to a vacan­cy, the turnout in that spe­cial elec­tion is high­er than the pre­ced­ing and suc­ces­sive reg­u­lar­ly-sched­uled gen­er­al elec­tions. That’s because local elec­tions in even years are essen­tial­ly cost­less for vot­ers: they’re already cast­ing a bal­lot, so they can ben­e­fit from the con­ve­nience of thought­ful­ly timed elections.
  • Poten­tial impacts on bal­lot length and the length of the voter’s pam­phlet would be lim­it­ed if SB 5723 pass­es. That’s because no vot­er lives in more than one city, and most cities elect three or four coun­cilmem­bers every oth­er year, so in most cas­es it would move three to four bal­lot items from under­uti­lized odd year bal­lots to even year ballots.

Tim Eyman’s argu­ments against our bill were non­sen­si­cal. Eyman argued that sep­a­rat­ing local elec­tions from state and fed­er­al elec­tions is a good thing (with­out offer­ing any rea­sons or jus­ti­fi­ca­tions as to why) and also sug­gest­ed that we ought to keep doing what we’ve been doing because we’ve been doing it for a long time, despite the moun­tain of evi­dence that most vot­ers would pre­fer a change.

Eyman also made it sound as though we do all of our elect­ing for local posi­tions in odd num­bered years and so there’s a nice, clear delin­eation between state/federal and local elec­tions under our cur­rent set­up. But that is not the case.

Thir­ty-six out of thir­ty-nine coun­ties elect their offices in even years now, and as allud­ed to above, King Coun­ty is begin­ning the process of join­ing them fol­low­ing pas­sage of our char­ter amend­ment. That process will be com­plete by 2028.

Local pub­lic util­i­ty dis­tricts (PUDs) also hold their reg­u­lar elec­tions in even num­bered years as express­ly allowed by state law.

Cities and towns once had the free­dom to choose their elec­tion tim­ing, but the Leg­is­la­ture took that free­dom away from them in the 1963 ses­sion and forced them all into odd years. We now have decades of data show­ing that local juris­dic­tions do not ben­e­fit from going alone in their own years.

It is time to fix the mis­take that the 1963 Leg­is­la­ture made and end a failed exper­i­ment by pass­ing Sen­ate Bill 5723.

Our team at NPI is grate­ful to every­one who tes­ti­fied pro today or signed in pro. We had well over one hun­dred peo­ple sign in pro and just a hand­ful reg­is­ter oppo­si­tion. We are par­tic­u­lar­ly appre­cia­tive to the Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Cities for sign­ing in pro and endors­ing our bill — work­ing with them to get the lan­guage right has been very pleas­ant and reward­ing, and we look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to devel­op this leg­is­la­tion with them and oth­er stakeholders.

If you’d like to watch the hear­ing, it is avail­able for on-demand view­ing from TVW.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

VICTORY! Washington State Senate again passes bill to abolish Tim Eyman’s push polls

A North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute bill that would advance vot­ing jus­tice in Wash­ing­ton by get­ting rid of Tim Eyman’s advi­so­ry votes push polls sailed out of the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate after receiv­ing a bipar­ti­san vote of sup­port this morn­ing, with thir­ty sen­a­tors vot­ing in favor and eigh­teen vot­ing against.

Sen­ate Bill 5082, prime spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er (D‑48th Dis­trict: Red­mond, Belle­vue, Kirk­land) does two things: it lib­er­ates our bal­lots from Eyman’s annu­al anti-tax pro­pa­gan­da, sav­ing tax­pay­ers mil­lions of dol­lars, and replaces them with use­ful, truth­ful fis­cal infor­ma­tion pre­pared by leg­isla­tive and OFM staff that will be avail­able online in advance of every gen­er­al elec­tion, ref­er­enced in the voter’s pam­phlet with a QR code, phone num­ber, and URL.

The bill is cospon­sored by near­ly half of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus and was select­ed by Sen­ate lead­er­ship for ear­ly bill action this session.

The bill had its pub­lic hear­ing on the sec­ond day of ses­sion, with eleven speak­ers tes­ti­fy­ing in favor and two opposed. Tim Eyman hilar­i­ous­ly did not show up at the hear­ing because he was not pay­ing atten­tion. The bill received a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion in the State Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee a few days lat­er, and then breezed through both Ways & Means and Rules onto the Sen­ate’s floor calendar.

SB 5082 is the fifth incar­na­tion of this vot­ing jus­tice leg­is­la­tion; Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er and NPI have kept deter­mined­ly bring­ing it back because our state needs it. Hope­ful­ly, this is the year that it gets signed into law by Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee.

Pri­or to pass­ing the bill, the Sen­ate adopt­ed a floor strik­ing amend­ment spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Kud­er­er, which reflects our input and which we sup­port. This amend­ment strength­ens Part III of the bill, ensur­ing that the replace­ment for “advi­so­ry votes” can be smooth­ly imple­ment­ed and ful­fill its noble pur­pose of help­ing vot­ers under­stand the state of the state’s finances.

A slew of Repub­li­can attempts to sab­o­tage the bill and sub­ject it to a ref­er­en­dum were vot­ed down by the cham­ber’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic majority.

The roll call vote on SB 5082 was as follows:

SSB 5082
Repeal and replace­ment of “advi­so­ry votes”
Sen­ate vote on 3rd Read­ing & Final Passage

Yeas: 30; Nays: 18; Excused: 1

Vot­ing Yea: Sen­a­tor Bil­lig, Cleve­land, Con­way, Dhin­gra, Frame, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hunt, Kauff­man, Keis­er, Kud­er­er, Liias, Lovelett, Lovick, Mul­let, Nguyen, Nobles, Ped­er­sen, Ran­dall, Robin­son, Rolfes, Sal­daña, Salomon, Shew­make, Stan­ford, Trudeau, Valdez, Van De Wege, Well­man, Wil­son (Claire)

Vot­ing Nay: Sen­a­tor Boehnke, Braun, Dozi­er, For­tu­na­to, Gildon, Holy, King, MacEwen, McCune, Muz­za­ll, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Tor­res, Wag­oner, War­nick, Wil­son (Jeff) Wil­son (Lyn­da)

Excused: Sen­a­tor Padden

Every Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor vot­ed for the bill, joined by Repub­li­can Brad Hawkins. The cham­ber’s oth­er Repub­li­cans vot­ed against the bill.

Hawkins also crossed par­ty lines to sup­port this leg­is­la­tion in 2019. He was joined by two oth­er Repub­li­cans in back­ing the first incar­na­tion of the bill — Sen­a­tors Hans Zeiger and Bar­bara Bai­ley — who have since left the Legislature.

We’ve pub­lished a state­ment thank­ing the Sen­ate for its lead­er­ship and deci­sive vote for this bill, which is avail­able through our Per­ma­nent Defense project.

Sen­a­tor Kud­er­er, Sen­a­tor Hunt, and Sen­a­tor Bil­lig deserve every­one’s thanks for get­ting us to this impor­tant mile­stone less than one month into session.

We are also deeply grate­ful to all of our allies and part­ners for their help in advo­cat­ing for this nec­es­sary leg­is­la­tion. Today’s vote is proof that our grass­roots lob­by­ing is get­ting results for the vot­ers and tax­pay­ers of Wash­ing­ton State.

SB 5082 now heads to the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. It will have its first read­ing short­ly and then be referred to the House State Gov­ern­ment & Trib­al Rela­tions Com­mit­tee for a hear­ing and exec­u­tive action.

That com­mit­tee has already held a hear­ing on 5082’s House com­pan­ion bill, HB 1158, which is prime spon­sored by our House cham­pi­on, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Amy Walen (D‑48th Dis­trict: Red­mond, Kirk­land, Belle­vue) and cospon­sored by a third of the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus, includ­ing Major­i­ty Leader Joe Fitzgib­bon, Major­i­ty Whip Alex Ramel, and Major­i­ty Floor Leader Mon­i­ca Stonier.

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

President Biden challenges Congress to help him “finish the job” of getting America back on track in upbeat State of the Union address

An upbeat Pres­i­dent Joe Biden deployed his ground game in tonight’s 2023 State of the Union address, deliv­er­ing a speech fea­tur­ing a set of pro­pos­als to strength­en the eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty of the mid­dle class and rec­og­niz­ing that the coun­try is tired of impasse, anger and divi­sion in its nation­al government.

The forty-sixth pres­i­dent did not try to equal the soar­ing elo­quence of Barack Oba­ma and did not come near the windy self-absorp­tion of Don­ald Trump. The speech was lengthy – one hour and twelve min­utes by this writer’s count – but demon­strat­ed that eighty-two year-old Biden still has enthu­si­asm and drive.

“Amid the eco­nom­ic upheaval of the past four decades too many peo­ple have been left behind or treat­ed like they’re invis­i­ble: Maybe that’s you watch­ing at home,” said Biden. “I get that. That’s why we’re build­ing an econ­o­my where no one is left behind.”

He laid out a pro­gram in a chal­lenge to Repub­li­cans, who have none and are embroiled in cul­ture wars. It was a relat­able, under­stand­able, con­nect­ing speech.

The President’s mantra? “Fin­ish the job!”

His agen­da? To name a few planks: Build on the cap in insulin costs to Medicare recip­i­ents, enact­ed in last year’s Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act, by cap­ping costs for all Amer­i­cans. Bring pre­scrip­tion drug prices under con­trol. And stop the fleec­ing of Amer­i­can con­sumers through manip­u­la­tion of air­line fares, “ser­vice fees” for no dis­cernible ser­vice, and “resort fees” by hotels that are not resorts.

A native of Scran­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, Biden dwelt on restor­ing Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ing. He cit­ed such mea­sures as the CHIPS and Sci­ence Act, which prompt­ed Intel to cre­ate 10,000 jobs in Colum­bus, Ohio. He spoke of restor­ing the Ohio Riv­er bridge link­ing Ken­tucky and Ohio, where a $1.2 bil­lion upgrade is under­way thanks to the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act.

Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, joined Biden at the bridge ded­i­ca­tion. The pres­i­dent used McConnell’s pres­ence in what was a cen­tral theme and gam­bit, call­ing for coop­er­a­tion and goad­ing the far-right which has gained influ­ence in the regime of House Speak­er Kevin McCarthy.

McCarthy sat glum­ly behind the president.

President Biden delivering the 2023 State of the Union

Pres­i­dent Biden speaks to Con­gress with Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris and Speak­er Kevin McCarthy behind him (Offi­cial White House photo)

“To my Repub­li­can friends, if we could work togeth­er in the last Con­gress, there is no rea­son we can’t work togeth­er and find con­sen­sus on impor­tant things in this Con­gress,” said Biden. “The peo­ple sent us a clear mes­sage. Fight­ing for the sake of fight­ing, pow­er for the sake of pow­er, con­flict for the sake of con­flict, gets us nowhere.”

The speech infu­ri­at­ed haters among House Repub­li­cans. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene, R‑Georgia, could be heard shout­ing “Liar!” Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz, R‑Texas, shook his head and tweet­ed: “It was an angry, divi­sive and fun­da­men­tal­ly dis­hon­est speech.” Added Sen­a­tor Mar­sha Black­burn, R‑Tennessee, “The Amer­i­can peo­ple aren’t buy­ing Biden’s revi­sion­ist his­to­ry of the economy.”

But the coun­try is work­ing again. Biden savored the fact that 12 mil­lion jobs have been cre­at­ed on his watch, and that unem­ploy­ment at 3.4% is at a fifty year low. He point­ed to 800,000 new man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, and said the nation’s sup­ply chain will again “begin in America.”

Angry? Biden toyed with Repub­li­cans who have threat­ened to block rais­ing the debt ceil­ing and demand­ed deep bud­get cuts as a price.

“We’re not going to be moved into being threat­ened to default on the debt,” said the pres­i­dent, cit­ing threats to take the Amer­i­can econ­o­my hostage.

He seized upon a pro­pos­al by Sen­a­tor Rick Scott, R‑Florida, that all fed­er­al pro­grams should sun­set every five years and face renew­al by Congress.

That includes Medicare and Social Secu­ri­ty, said Biden.

Angry shouts and denials came from Repub­li­can House members.

Biden is not a regal leader. He appeared to enjoy him­self, jok­ing that the reac­tion showed that every­one was in agree­ment that the nation’s social con­tract should not be pierced. This made the far right even angrier.

After all, more than one hun­dred and forty ultra MAGA House Repub­li­cans vot­ed against cer­ti­fy­ing his 2020 elec­tion victory.

The Pres­i­dent took par­tic­u­lar delight in not­ing that many Repub­li­cans vot­ed against the bipar­ti­san Infra­struc­ture bill, but are now clam­or­ing for and claim­ing cred­it for projects in their districts.

“I promised to be the pres­i­dent for all Amer­i­cans,” he quipped. “We’ll fund these projects and I’ll see you at the groundbreaking.”

The right’s reac­tion was vis­i­bly ugly to some viewers.

“The behav­ior of a siz­able group of Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors tonight was out­ra­geous and dis­gust­ing,” tweet­ed Lar­ry Saba­to, direc­tor of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Virginia’s Insti­tute of Pol­i­tics. “Their scream­ing and cat­call­ing at the Pres­i­dent was obscene. Free speech? Sure. Deco­rum and cour­tesy. Dead.”

The Repub­li­cans’ bag­gage and visions were dis­played at times. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive George San­tos, R‑New York — he of vast lies on his resume — found a place next to the aisle as lumi­nar­ies entered the cham­ber. He got a sharp rebuke from Sen­a­tor Mitt Rom­ney, R‑Utah, who lat­er said of San­tos: “He shouldn’t be in Con­gress. And they’re gonna go through the process of hope­ful­ly get­ting him out. But he shouldn’t be there and if he had any shame at all, he wouldn’t be there.”

When Biden tout­ed U.S. defense of Ukraine, and the alliance that has sent bil­lions in mil­i­tary and eco­nom­ic assis­tance, some Repub­li­cans joined in ova­tions, while oth­ers sat in stony silence. The inva­sion was, in Biden’s words, “a test for the ages. A test for Amer­i­ca. A test for the world.”

A copy of Biden's 2023 SOTU speech

A copy of Pres­i­dent Biden’s State of the Union address, open to the first page pri­or to its deliv­ery (Offi­cial White House photo)

Wash­ing­ton’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion played a not incon­sid­er­able role in the achieve­ments tout­ed by Biden as bring­ing Amer­i­ca back from the pan­dem­ic that has claimed more than one mil­lion lives and, for a time, vir­tu­al­ly shut down the economy.

Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, man­aged the CHIPS and Sci­ence Act with hopes of restor­ing microchip man­u­fac­tur­ing, large­ly lost to Asia.

The admin­is­tra­tion has deliv­ered “his­toric invest­ments in our infra­struc­ture, man­u­fac­tur­ing, sci­ence and inno­va­tion,” she said in a statement.

“We must build on that progress and turn those invest­ments into real solu­tions that will make our nation and our man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pet­i­tive, bring more good-pay­ing jobs back to Amer­i­ca, and build a resilient econ­o­my for the future.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene, D‑Washington, chairs the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, charged with retak­ing the House by tak­ing advan­tage of the boor­ish right-wing cra­zies and Speak­er McCarthy’s many con­ces­sions to them.

“Pres­i­dent Biden empha­sized the urgent need to renew the expand­ed Child Tax Cred­it that cut child­hood pover­ty in half and ben­e­fit­ed mil­lions of chil­dren nation­wide,” said Del­Bene. “The invest­ment kept fam­i­lies afloat dur­ing the pan­dem­ic and helped par­ents pay bills, put enough food on the table, and afford oth­er expens­es for their kids, like child care and diapers.”

Biden deliv­ered a strong speech and was on his game. It was a down-to-earth speech direct­ed to mil­lions of watch­ers beyond the House chamber.

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Senator Javier Valdez, NPI propose legislation to let WA cities switch elections to even years

For the first time since the 1960s, cities in Wash­ing­ton would be allowed to hold their reg­u­lar­ly-sched­uled in even-num­bered years, when data shows that vot­er turnout is high­er and much more diverse, under a bill intro­duced by Sen­a­tor Javier Valdez (D‑46th Dis­trict: Seat­tle) and devel­oped by our team at NPI.

Sen­ate Bill 5723 gives cities and towns across the Ever­green State the option of switch­ing the tim­ing of their elec­tions from odd-num­bered to even-num­bered years. Cur­rent state law requires that cities and towns go in odd-num­bered years. Our bill amends that statute and spec­i­fies a process by which a city or town may begin elect­ing its coun­cilmem­bers, may­or, and oth­er offi­cials in even years.

Char­ter coun­ties already have the free­dom to choose their tim­ing (and all but two have cho­sen even years, the default for coun­ties) but cities and towns do not.

Our leg­is­la­tion would give them the free­dom to choose.

By default, cities and towns’ elec­tions would stay in odd-num­bered years.

But they could choose to switch if they want­ed, to secure for their peo­ple the well-doc­u­ment­ed ben­e­fits of hold­ing elec­tions in pres­i­den­tial or midterm cycles when vot­er turnout is typ­i­cal­ly above six­ty or even sev­en­ty percent.

Local­i­ties across the coun­try vot­ed to do just that last year. In every sin­gle one of the juris­dic­tions where an even year elec­tions propo­si­tion was on the bal­lot in 2022, it passed eas­i­ly, includ­ing here in Wash­ing­ton State, where King Coun­ty vot­ers over­whelm­ing­ly backed an NPI pro­pos­al spon­sored by Coun­cilmem­ber Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci to switch the coun­ty’s elec­tions into even-num­bered years.

That mea­sure, King Coun­ty Char­ter Amend­ment 1, got a 69% yes vote.

Cities and towns now set to make the switch else­where in the coun­try include Boul­der, Col­orado, St. Peters­burg, Flori­da, and San Fran­cis­co, Cal­i­for­nia.

Those places are all part of a grow­ing pop­u­lar move­ment for even-year elec­tions that our research shows Wash­ing­to­ni­ans want to be a part of.

The case for even-year local elections is compelling

“Every pub­lished study on elec­tion tim­ing and vot­er turnout shows that com­bin­ing local elec­tions with state and fed­er­al elec­tions is the sin­gle most effec­tive change that local gov­ern­ments can make to increase turnout,” Zoltan L. Haj­nal, Vladimir Kogan, and G. Agustin Markar­i­an write in the Amer­i­can Polit­i­cal Sci­ence Review.

Imag­ine being able to as much as dou­ble the turnout for impor­tant local offices — and diver­si­fy it by an even greater mag­ni­tude — with just one struc­tur­al change. Well, that’s what even-year elec­tions for local gov­ern­ments can do for us.

Addi­tion­al­ly, even-year elec­tions help us address the prob­lem of elec­tion fatigue: vot­ers tired of elec­tions that are imme­di­ate­ly fol­lowed by more elec­tions. For exam­ple, here in Wash­ing­ton, it’s been less than two months since the 2022 midterms were cer­ti­fied, but already, for some, it’s time to vote again.

That’s right: the 2023 Feb­ru­ary spe­cial elec­tion is upon us! Seat­tle vot­ers are con­sid­er­ing Ini­tia­tive 135 (social hous­ing), for exam­ple, right now.

Elec­tion Day is next Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 14th.

That’ll be fol­lowed by an April 2023 spe­cial elec­tion in King Coun­ty and oth­er juris­dic­tions, then the August 2023 Top Two, then the Novem­ber 2023 gen­er­al, and so on. The lat­ter two win­dows are when cities and towns will hold their reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled elec­tions as state law present­ly requires.

If we take NPI’s home­town of Red­mond as an exam­ple, we can see from look­ing at vot­er turnout that there is a big dif­fer­ence between even and odd years.

Red­mond last elect­ed a may­or in 2019; it last held coun­cil elec­tions in 2021.

In each of those years, as well as in con­test­ed elec­tions going back even fur­ther, turnout has been well under fifty per­cent. A major­i­ty has­n’t returned bal­lots in Red­mond’s reg­u­lar­ly held elec­tions in over a decade.

Last year, by con­trast, Red­mond had a pub­lic safe­ty levy on the ballot.

This was a down­bal­lot item, just like may­or and coun­cil elec­tions, but because it appeared on the bal­lot in an even year, the turnout exceed­ed fifty percent.

In fact, Red­mond came close to two-thirds turnout. Far more Red­mon­ders vot­ed for and against this pub­lic safe­ty levy than vot­ed for may­or in 2019, or for coun­cil in 2021, thanks to the tim­ing cho­sen for the proposition.

We can run a seem­ing­ly end­less set of com­par­isons just like this for any num­ber of cities in Wash­ing­ton. Our friend Chris Roberts offered up a set back in 2020 right here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate. Again and again, the sto­ry is the same: more peo­ple vote on city-lev­el items if they are in an even-num­bered year.

Skep­tics of this reform keep non­sen­si­cal­ly argu­ing that mov­ing local elec­tions to even years will bury local issues, but the data shows that the oppo­site is true. More peo­ple pay atten­tion to and vote on issues and can­di­date elec­tions in their city when they are held in con­cert with state and fed­er­al elections.

Why? Because fed­er­al and state elec­tions are when the great­est num­ber of peo­ple are civi­cal­ly engaged. When local offices are made to stand on their own, they get less atten­tion. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true in the polit­i­cal era we are cur­rent­ly in… an era in which local news cov­er­age is alarm­ing­ly and pre­cip­i­tous­ly declining.

Our team has heard this our­selves. Staff and board­mem­bers out doing vol­un­teer can­vass­ing have been told flat-out at the doors: We don’t vote in off years.

There is no such thing as an “off” year, of course — every elec­tion matters.

Sad­ly, many peo­ple don’t share that belief. We need to meet peo­ple where they are rather than ignor­ing their wish­es for a sim­pler sys­tem of elections.

We can con­tin­ue to require cities and towns — arguably the most impor­tant unit of local gov­ern­ment that we have, aside from coun­ties — to hold their elec­tions at times when most peo­ple don’t vote, and when the elec­torate that is turn­ing out tends to be old­er, whiter, and rich­er. Or, we can chart a dif­fer­ent course by pass­ing Sen­ate Bill 5723. We can give Wash­ing­ton cities and towns the free­dom to choose a reform that evi­dence shows is wild­ly pop­u­lar with vot­ers all over.

Sen­ate Bill 5723 will have a pub­lic hear­ing this Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 10th at 8 AM in the Sen­ate State Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee. You can express your sup­port for the bill by sign­ing in PRO right now using this direct link

Our team hopes you’ll join us in sup­port­ing this thought­ful, nec­es­sary legislation.

Monday, February 6th, 2023

Republicans fail in their attempt to intervene in signature verification legal challenge

A Repub­li­can major­i­ty of U.S. Supreme Court jus­tices have demol­ished the 1965 Vot­ing Rights Act, a land­mark achieve­ment of the civ­il rights move­ment, as well as using the 2010 Cit­i­zens Cor­po­ra­tions Unit­ed deci­sion to remove restraints on cam­paign spend­ing begun when Theodore Roo­sevelt was president.

At the low­er court lev­el, how­ev­er, the Grand Old Par­ty has con­tin­ued to suf­fer loss after loss, par­tic­u­lar­ly with the Trump attempt to over­turn the out­come of our 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and attacks on vot­ing laws in states which have sought to make it eas­i­er to cast ballots.

The Seat­tle-based bicoastal Perkins Coie law firm used to be a white shoe out­fit, known for two sig­na­ture clients, the Boe­ing Com­pa­ny and Puget Sound Pow­er and Light. Long­time Boe­ing CEO William Allen and Puget Pow­er boss (lat­er Seat­tle Mariners pres­i­dent) John Ellis were alum­ni of the firm. Such were pil­lars of the busi­ness wing of Repub­li­can­ism in the Ever­green State.

In recent years, how­ev­er, P‑C has devel­oped a spe­cial­ty in elec­tion law, and has come to rep­re­sent Democ­rats… includ­ing the state par­ty, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­ate Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, and Barack and Michelle Oba­ma. Two of Pres­i­dent Clinton’s picks to the U.S. 9th Cir­cuit Court of Appeals came from Perkins Coie.

The firm rep­re­sent­ed Maria Cantwell in the post-elec­tion bat­tle over her 2,229-vote 2000 upset of Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Slade Gorton.

Perkins Coie was in Chelan Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court, suc­cess­ful­ly defend­ing Gov­er­nor Chris Gregoire’s 133-vote 2004 vic­to­ry over Dino Rossi.

It han­dled the pro­longed lit­i­ga­tion, after the 2008 elec­tion, that sent for­mer Sat­ur­day Night Live come­di­an Al Franken to the U.S. Senate.

Perkins Coie fought off Trump chal­lenges to Pres­i­dent Biden’s 2020 cap­ture of Geor­gia and has defend­ed Democ­rats’ 2022 vic­to­ries in Arizona.

It suc­cess­ful­ly sued to over­turn actions by Montana’s Repub­li­can-run leg­is­la­ture that sought to make it dif­fi­cult for Native Amer­i­cans to vote, and to put obsta­cles in the way of col­lege voters.

Nat­u­ral­ly, then, Perkins Coie was picked by three groups – El Cen­tro de la Raza, Wash­ing­ton Bus and VetVoice – to chal­lenge the sig­na­ture ver­i­fi­ca­tion require­ments in Washington’s vote-by-mail sys­tem.

They’ve recent­ly filed suit in King Coun­ty Super Court, argu­ing that the require­ment vio­lates the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion as thou­sands of legit­i­mate vot­ers grap­ple with hav­ing their bal­lots reject­ed. The rejec­tions fall dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly on Black vot­ers, young peo­ple, and the disabled.

Enter the Republicans.

There have long been rum­bles in the Repub­li­can ranks over how “easy” it is to vote in the Ever­green State, even though our elec­tions were long under super­vi­sion of five suc­ces­sive Repub­li­cans hold­ing the office of Sec­re­tary of State.

The state Repub­li­can Par­ty, with some fan­fare, sought to inter­vene in the sig­na­ture case, joined by the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee. They were bent on defend­ing sig­na­ture ver­i­fi­ca­tion. The root rea­son, in words of RNC Chair Ron­na McDaniel: “Mail-in vot­ing increas­es the oppor­tu­ni­ty for fraud.”

“And they brought in the big guns, Trump’s lawyers from the Consovoy McCarthy law firm, and paired them with the team from Davis Wright that rep­re­sent­ed Dino Rossi in his failed con­test over the 2004 elec­tion,” report­ed Perkins Coie lawyer Kevin Hamil­ton, vet­er­an of the Cantwell, Gre­goire, Franken and Geor­gia bat­tles, in an amused memo.

They lost. King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Cather­ine Shaf­fer has denied the motion to inter­vene. “If there’s one thing this case does not need, it’s Trump’s lawyers try­ing to defend the inde­fen­si­ble,” Hamil­ton chortled.

The Repub­li­cans’ phi­los­o­phy on lit­i­ga­tion is nev­er to spend one dol­lar when two (or more) will do. Judge Shaf­fer may have saved the par­ty some mon­ey, need­ed until recent­ly (when he announced his can­di­da­cy) to pay Trump’s legal bills.

And embar­rass­ment.

A few years back, the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union – rep­re­sent­ed by Perkins Coie – sued the city of Yaki­ma over city-wide elec­tion of city coun­cil and school board mem­bers. More than forty per­cent of the city’s pop­u­la­tion is Lati­no and His­pan­ic, but no Lati­no or Lati­na had ever won elec­tion to any city office.

The city fought against the suit, filed under the Vot­ing Rights Act, and spent through the nose. The plain­tiffs’ legal briefs were so con­vinc­ing, how­ev­er, that a fed­er­al judge deliv­ered a sum­ma­ry judgment.

The com­po­si­tion of the Yaki­ma City Coun­cil was for­ev­er changed.

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

VICTORY! Washington State Senate votes to remove death penalty and Eyman’s two-thirds nonsense from our state’s body of laws

A well-craft­ed house­keep­ing bill that would abol­ish a num­ber of uncon­sti­tu­tion­al statutes has passed out of the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate with bipar­ti­san sup­port as one of the cham­ber’s ini­tial acts of the 2023 leg­isla­tive session.

Sub­sti­tute Sen­ate Bill 5087, prime spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Jamie Ped­er­sen (D‑43rd Dis­trict: Seat­tle) and request­ed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, would for­mal­ly scrub a list of statutes no longer in effect from the Revised Code of Washington.

These statutes include the death penal­ty, deemed uncon­sti­tu­tion­al by the Supreme Court as applied, along with the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al two-thirds scheme to raise rev­enue that Tim Eyman turned into a series of initiatives.

Thir­ty-four sen­a­tors said yes to strik­ing these uncon­sti­tu­tion­al statutes from our books, while four­teen were opposed. The roll call on SB 5087 was as follows:

SSB 5087
Defects and omissions
Sen­ate vote on 3rd Read­ing & Final Passage

Yeas: 34; Nays: 14; Excused: 1

Vot­ing Yea: Sen­a­tor Bil­lig, Boehnke, Cleve­land, Con­way, Dhin­gra, Frame, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hunt, Kauff­man, Keis­er, King, Kud­er­er, Liias, Lovelett, Lovick, Mul­let, Muz­za­ll, Nguyen, Nobles, Ped­er­sen, Ran­dall, Robin­son, Rolfes, Sal­daña, Salomon, Stan­ford, Trudeau, Valdez, Wag­oner, War­nick, Well­man, Wil­son (Claire), Wil­son (Jeff)

Vot­ing Nay: Sen­a­tor Braun, Dozi­er, For­tu­na­to, Gildon, Holy, MacEwen, McCune, Pad­den, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Tor­res, Van De Wege, Wil­son (Lyn­da)

Excused: Sen­a­tor Shewmake

The only Demo­c­rat to vote nay was Kevin Van De Wege (D‑24th Dis­trict: Olympic Penin­su­la). Repub­li­cans were split. Most of the cau­cus vot­ed nay, but Kei­th Wag­oner, Judy War­nick, Jeff Wil­son, Matt Boehnke, and Ron Muz­za­ll vot­ed yea.

Sen­a­tor Shew­make (D‑42nd Dis­trict: What­com Coun­ty) was excused.

Repub­li­cans attempt­ed to amend the bill to remove the death penal­ty from the list of statutes being elim­i­nat­ed in the bill, but the amend­ment failed on a voice vote, with Sen­a­tors Jamie Ped­er­sen and Yas­min Trudeau speak­ing against it.

No oth­er amend­ments were offered to the bill.

Ped­er­sen not­ed in his speech on final pas­sage that the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court has been urg­ing the Gov­er­nor and Leg­is­la­ture to clean up the state’s books for a long time now and com­mend­ed the leg­is­la­tion to the body.

Repub­li­can Mike Pad­den exlained dur­ing a speech on the amend­ment that he only object­ed to the elim­i­na­tion of the death penal­ty statute, because it was struck down as applied rather than struck down as writ­ten, and could sup­port the rest of the bill. How­ev­er, the real­i­ty is that there is no just, equi­table, or fair way to apply the death penal­ty. The death penal­ty is immoral and irre­spon­si­ble, and its removal from our books is an absolute­ly nec­es­sary and appro­pri­ate action.

In 2018, NPI found in its spring statewide poll that a whop­ping 69% of like­ly Wash­ing­ton vot­ers sup­port­ed life in prison alter­na­tives to the death penal­ty, with only 24% express­ing sup­port for the death penal­ty. Not long after we released that research, the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court struck down the death penal­ty as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and con­vert­ed all death sen­tences to life sen­tences, mak­ing Gov­er­nor Inslee’s mora­to­ri­um on the death penal­ty permanent.

Though the death penal­ty has been off the table as an option for pros­e­cu­tors for years, the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al statute allow­ing it has remained on the books. The Sen­ate has repeat­ed­ly vot­ed to get rid of the death penal­ty, but the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has inex­plic­a­bly failed to fol­low suit, even though the votes exist to get the bill to Gov­er­nor Inslee’s desk. Hope­ful­ly, the fourth time will be the charm and we’ll be able to cel­e­brate this bill being signed into law in a few weeks.

We’ll also be able to cel­e­brate the removal from our books of the right wing’s long-run­ning scheme to mess with our Con­sti­tu­tion’s major­i­ty vote require­ment by spec­i­fy­ing a two-thirds vote thresh­old for rev­enue bills in clear vio­la­tion of Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22, which says: “No bill shall become a law unless on its final pas­sage the vote be tak­en by yeas and nays, the names of the mem­bers vot­ing for and against the same be entered on the jour­nal of each house, and a major­i­ty of the mem­bers elect­ed to each house be record­ed there­on as vot­ing in its favor.”

This scheme, first imposed via I‑601 in the 1990s and reen­act­ed with Tim Eyman’s I‑960, I‑1053, and I‑1185, was intend­ed to give Repub­li­cans the equiv­a­lent of a leg­isla­tive veto over bills to raise rev­enue for Wash­ing­ton’s essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices. Now it’s final­ly on the verge of going away.

NPI thanks all of the mem­bers of the Sen­ate who vot­ed for this leg­is­la­tion today. Abol­ish­ing the death penal­ty and clean­ing up our books is one of our 2023 leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties, and we’re pleased to see it receive ear­ly floor action.

Sunday, January 29th, 2023

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (January 23rd-27th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Jan­u­ary 27th, 2023.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

ASSESSING GOVERNMENT JOB APPLICANTS: The House on Jan­u­ary 24th passed the Chance to Com­pete Act (H.R. 159), spon­sored by Rep. Vir­ginia Foxx, R‑N.C., to change the hir­ing sys­tem for the fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s civ­il ser­vice jobs by pri­or­i­tiz­ing skills-based assess­ments of an appli­can­t’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Foxx said the cur­rent sys­tem, by over-empha­siz­ing aca­d­e­m­ic qual­i­fi­ca­tions, “seri­ous­ly under­mines the fed­er­al work­force’s abil­i­ty to serve the Amer­i­can peo­ple in both a prop­er and effi­cient man­ner.” The vote was 422 yeas to 2 nays.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Val Hoyle, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Andrea Sali­nas; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

Not Vot­ing (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzanne Bonamici

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

DISCLOSING LAWSUIT SETTLEMENTS: The House on Jan­u­ary 24th passed the Set­tle­ment Agree­ment Infor­ma­tion Data­base Act (H.R. 300), spon­sored by Rep. Gary Palmer, R‑Alabama, to require fed­er­al gov­ern­ment agen­cies to release to the pub­lic infor­ma­tion about con­sent decrees and set­tle­ment agree­ments they have reached with lit­i­gants. Palmer said: “Cit­i­zens have a right to access the fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s records and oper­a­tions to facil­i­tate over­sight of the pub­lic busi­ness.” The vote was unan­i­mous with 425 yeas.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Val Hoyle, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Andrea Sali­nas; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

Not Vot­ing (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzanne Bonamici

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

STUDYING WAYS TO IMPROVE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: The House on Jan­u­ary 25th passed the NOTAM Improve­ment Act (H.R. 346), spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pete Stauber, R‑Minnesota. The bill would cre­ate a task force at the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion (FAA) to sug­gest improve­ments to the agen­cy’s notices to air mis­sions (NOTAM) sys­tem. Stauber said the ground­ing of all domes­tic air­line depar­tures two weeks ago due to a NOTAM out­age high­light­ed the need for the FAA to improve its com­pli­cat­ed, out­dat­ed sys­tem for com­mu­ni­cat­ing safe­ty and traf­fic alerts to pilots.

The vote was 424 yeas to 4 nays.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Val Hoyle, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Andrea Sali­nas; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

Not Vot­ing (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzanne Bonamici

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

INVESTING IN SMALL BUSINESSES: The House on Jan­u­ary 25th passed the Invest­ing in Main Street Act (H.R. 400), spon­sored by Rep. Judy Chu, D‑California, to increase the amount a bank can invest in small busi­ness invest­ment com­pa­nies from 5 per­cent to 15 per­cent of the bank’s cap­i­tal and surplus.

Chu said: “Rais­ing this cap will dra­mat­i­cal­ly increase the amount of invest­ment cap­i­tal avail­able to our coun­try’s small busi­ness­es for whom even small invest­ments can mean so much.” The vote was 411 yeas to 13 nays.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Yea (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Val Hoyle, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Andrea Sali­nas; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer

Not Vot­ing (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzanne Bonamici

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

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