A big-spending battle over genetically modified foods appears headed for Washington state as activists report they have gathered enough signatures to place a GMO labeling initiative before the Washington Legislature next session – and most likely before voters in fall 2013. It’s a replay of a fight that just took place in California, embroiling agribusiness, biotech manufacturers and many of the biggest business organizations in the Golden State. That one failed. Same basic initiative, same basic arguments — will the outcome be different?
Gov. Christine Gregoire offers her final budget plan — a last parting gift to the Legislature as she prepares to leave office — and while it might be doomed to the dustbin, it points up an interesting fact. The state’s immediate problem, a $1 billion shortfall, can be defeated in a few quick moves, and the real problem is finding enough money to satisfy a Supreme Court ruling that the state isn’t spending enough money on K-12 schools. An old favorite, oil taxes, rears its head again — and you just have to love her solution to the SEIU problem.
Senate Democrats, certain to lose power on the opening day of the next legislative session, are firing back with a counteroffer. If the new coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats says it wants bipartisanship, the Senate Democrats say they want it in spades — a shared chairmanship on virtually every committee in the Senate. Their proposal is getting a frosty reception, and you have to wonder — was that the idea?
Last week people were calling the proposed power-sharing arrangement in the Washington state Senate “unprecedented.” And they were right — it has never happened in the Senate before. But similar formal power-sharing arrangements have been made to work in other places and times, in state legislatures in Alaska and Texas and even years ago in Washington state. Just takes grown-ups. A point worth pondering as Senate Democrats appear poised to reject bipartisanship.
It didn’t seem to surprise anyone when Reuven Carlyle was named chairman of the House committee that will oversee taxes in the coming legislative session. In his first two terms Carlyle has earned a rep as one of the Legislature’s big-picture guys and a bit of a policy wonk. Washington State Wire asks about his plans, and tells about one of the wickedest pranks in the history of the state Legislature.
So many people had so much to say about the upheaval in the Senate that Washington State Wire just can’t let the opportunity pass without one last notebook-dump. What jubilation! What betrayal! What a splendid way to show support for Washington’s new governor! So before the moment passes and everyone gets down to the turgid business of governing, and people forget how they danced and how they boiled – here’s the best of what we didn’t report.
History was made Monday as two Democratic senators stood with Republican lawmakers and announced the formation of a new 25-member Majority Coalition Caucus that will rule the Senate in 2013. Seems clear now that the Senate will be the balancing force to the Democrat-controlled House and governor’s mansion. And by offering six committee chairmanships to the Democrats, the new ruling majority is making a point about bipartisanship. Now it’s the Democrats’ move: Will they accept the new order in the Senate?
The deal is done! Two Democrats and 23 Republicans are teaming to form a majority coalition in the Senate. The details are being fleshed out at a news conference this morning; in the meantime, Washington State Wire presents the news release that announces the creation of the coalition that will turn the Senate upside down this session, and offers a hint of what the new bipartisan power-sharing arrangement will look like.