Morning Wire: Committee Days, Re-Wire, 3 for 3

We released our Detailed Agenda yesterday ahead of our 2017 Re-Wire Policy Conference.  If you haven’t checked it out, take a look.  The conference is coming up on December 12th, and will tee up some of the most important conversations coming in the 2018 legislative session.

Now a few items to bring to your attention that we think are worth tracking in Washington State politics and policy.


1. Committee Days this week in Olympia

The legislature is holding its fall “Committee Days” this week.  Our reporter, Emily Boerger, will be in Olympia throughout the legislative session and is covering the committee hearings this week.  She filed two dispatches this morning from hearings on Monday.

The Ways and Means Committee got a report on the state’s economic climate.  No surprise: Washington State took the top spot for growth in high wage jobs.  A little surprise:  the state fell from a rank of 17 to 27 in air quality.  In the second story, Emily reports progress on the Individual and Family Services waiver (IFS). The DSHS program serves folks with intellectual disabilities that live at home.  The wait list, which had 5,000 names on it, is now down to zero.


2. The Hirst decision and the capital budget

In the wake of Manka Dhingra’s victory in the 45th, Democrats released their committee chair assignments yesterday.  Some Democratic members are pushing for a quick special session to pass the cash-portion of the capital budget, as well as a fix to the Hirst decision.  Democratic House members are floating a fix to Hirst that one Republican observer told me it “was as if the Ds asked themselves, what can we propose that we can be sure the Senate Republicans will reject?” Expect that proposal to surface in December.

We have a panel dedicated to this issue at our 2017 Re-Wire Policy Conference at 11:30 am titled “The Hirst Decision and the Capital Budget: What’s the Hold Up?” You’ll hear from both sides of the aisle as this panel features Republican Senator Judy Warnick and Democratic Representative Larry Springer. These two lead the negotiations on Hirst for their respective caucuses. They’re joined by attorney Dawn Vyvyan who represents the Puyallups and other tribal interests.


3. Letter: Stand With Us

The last edition of the Morning Wire featured the problem of sexual harassment and assault in state capitols, including Olympia. It makes this edition as well with a recent lettersigned by over 170 women lawmakers and lobbyists. It’s well worth your read:

“The state legislature should be leading the way. We say we have a zero-tolerance policy. That needs to be real. Today, we challenge the leadership and members of both chambers and both parties to lead the way in our state by working together with us to change the culture from one which silently supports and perpetuates harassment to one which supports and preserves safety. We must all make a tangible commitment to end sexual harassment in all its forms in Olympia.”


4. Congressional Republicans and retirement

Congressman Dave Reichert was the 15th Republican to announce his retirement this year.  The number has now grown to 25 in what CNN reports is one of the earliest times this amount of Republicans have declared these intentions in recent history. I encourage you to check out their data visualization in their story.

That number will likely continue to grow. Seven of the 23 Republican members who represent districts won by Hillary Clinton are in California, a state that may get hit harder than most under some versions of the proposed tax reform bill. In Washington State, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee highlighted Lisa Brown’s candidacy against Cathy McMorris Rodgers, moving it into a targeted “pick up.


5. Election takeaways: no wave in Washington State

Following last week’s election, I offered four takeaways related to legislative politics this year.  The most prominent among those is that for all of the talk about wave elections in Virginia, that wave simply didn’t materialize in Washington State.

All of the appointed legislative incumbents won their seats.  And, 27 of 29 key races in the state where an incumbent was on the ballot saw that incumbent win. One of those exceptions was Ryan Calkins, a candidate we said to watch in August. He was losing on election night, but late returns swung his way.


6. Elway on values divide between rural-urban

Stu Elway has been talking about the shifting values in Washington State between urban and rural electorates since last year’s general election.  He’s out this week with more polling data on the topic.  Elway finds that it’s suburban voters that feel the economic system is most rigged against them, more than rural and urban voters.

In an interesting second data set about “what I think you think of me,” Elway’s statewide poll finds rural voters feel the most disrespected, and that respondents feel like more Democrats have a favorable opinion of them (52%) than Republicans (37%).


7.  Have we fixed public education?

The legislature may have taken action to address the McCleary decision, but it’s still unclear if the Supreme Court will accept the $7.3 billion funding plan. At our 2017 Re-Wire Policy Conference, we will ask the question “Have we fixed public education?” at our 9:30 am panel.

Our panel will feature Representative Paul Harris, the ranking minority member on the House Education Committee and Senator Reuven Carlyle, a member of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. They’ll be joined by Jami Lund, a senior policy analyst at the Freedom Foundation, and Julie Salvi, a compensation lobbyist for the Washington Education Association.

This panel will be among the most thoughtful sessions on public education reform and funding outside of Olympia.  It’s going to be a good one.


8.  Kittitas County approves collective bargaining transparency

The Board of Kittitas County Commissioners changed the County Code to allow for collective bargaining transparency. The new ordinance states that all collective bargaining sessions and contract negotiations must be open to the public. However, members of the public will not be allowed to participate or offer testimony.

The Freedom Foundation expressed support for the ordinance, and has been involved in transparency efforts for collective bargaining. Currently, only Kittitas and Lincoln Counties and the Pullman and Tukwila school districts require collective bargaining transparency.

Sean Jefferies, President of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302, testified against the ordinance at the public hearing: “This transparency is bad public policy, if it’s even legal.”

The Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance. A bill that would have required public employee collective bargaining sessions to be open meetings died in committee this past legislative session, so we might see this push for transparency addressed at the county or city level, instead of in the legislature.


9. The Wire Poll went 3 for 3 in 2017

Polling in non-incumbent races is not always easy.  So, we’re pretty proud to say we picked all three winners in the races the Wire Poll tracked this year.  We picked Jenny Durkan to win the primary when King 5’s poll had McGinn winning.  We also said she’d win the general with a “commanding lead” while other polling said it was close.  Our polling in the 45th was inline with other public polls showing Dhingra in the lead.

We’ll be polling in the 5th Congressional, the 8th Congressional, and a series of other races in 2018.  So, stay tuned as we get those polls ready for you.