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Morning Wire: Slade Gorton, Steve Hobbs, Bruce Chandler

Thanks to the 250 folks that joined our first Re-Wire Policy Conference last week!  With 25 legislators with us – as well as some of the most important names in Washington State politics – we had more state policy makers in the room than anywhere in Washington State outside of the legislative session.

Simply put, it was a tremendous honor to host everyone.

And, from that event, we’ve got lots of news to feature for you in this week’s Morning Wire.

1. What You Missed: Re-Wire Policy Conference

We hosted our first annual Re-Wire Policy Conference last week and it was a huge success! Thank you to our 250 attendees and our 60 speakers for joining us to share ideas about and solutions for the most challenging issues our state and nation face today.

If you were unable to join us, be sure to check out the highlights from the day.

We were joined by Nick Hanauer to kickoff our day. He spoke about widening inequality in America. Our lunch keynote conversation with Rob McKenna and Slade Gorton gave us insight into the current state of politics from the view of two of Washington State’s leading Republicans. And our afternoon panel of Puget Sound progressive leaders talked through the what it means to be “progressive” today.  I want to thank our friends at TVW for recording five of our breakout panels. You can find those here, along with other videos from the event.

2.  Podcast: Rep. Bruce Chandler from the 15th LD

Representative Bruce Chandler is serving his ninth term representing the 15th legislative district. Considering how many members of the House either move to the Senate or leave Olympia after a few terms, Rep. Chandler’s tenure is an exception in the House. He spent several years as the ranking Republican on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, where he had a unique perspective as an orchardist. Currently, he is the House Republican’s budget leader.

Rep. Chandler joined us in this podcast to talk about his life in the 15th LD, and about some of the issues from the last legislative session that we can expect to see in 2018. He provides us his insight into the Hirst decision and the capital budget, the McCleary decision, and the growing urban-rural divide in Washington. Take a listen and be sure to subscribe!

3. Sen. Gorton on impeachment of Trump:  “the case may very well be there”

During our lunch keynote, Senator Slade Gorton shared his thoughts on whether President Trump should be brought up on articles of impeachment. Such an action already failed in the House but the talk among some on the left continues. Recall Senator Gorton was in the Senate during President Clinton’s impeachment proceeding, where he split his vote during the trial in 1999.

“It’s a very, very serious question because a conviction of the president of impeachment is to reverse the verdict of the voters of the people of the United States in an election for president. And it cannot, and should not be done frivolously. It shouldn’t be done just over a difference of opinion on particular issues; it’s got to be more profound than that. But I believe the case may very well be there at the present time…In fact, Alexander Hamilton, in one of the Federalist Papers, he almost could have been speaking about Trump, as so misusing the office that impeachment was appropriate.”

You can view Sen. Gorton’s comments specific to impeachment here, or watch the entire keynote here.

4. “…only as progressive as Steve Hobbs”

Our afternoon keynote panel at Re-Wire was a really great snapshot of what being a progressive in Washington State looks like in 2018.  Teresa Mosqueda is a newly elected Seattle City Council member, a strong progressive voice, but yet one that was labeled by some as “too establishment” during her 2017 campaign. Dow Constantine runs the state’s second largest government as King County Executive. He’s a long time progressive, but works within the reality that governance is often measured incrementally rather than in the broad strokes some advocates call for.

These two progressive leaders are moving the ball forward, in their own ways, within a context of Democratic politics that would sometimes prefer self-immolation to partisan unity.

Which brings me to our third panelist, State Senator Steve Hobbs. A comment I heard during the conference was that “In spite of Democratic majorities, Olympia will only be as progressive as Steve Hobbs.” In other words, Hobbs – a long time Democrat and established moderate – holds a key 25th vote the Democrats will need. They’ll need it not just for final passage, but for procedure as well.  Hobbs told me he’s already told the Senate caucus he will only support procedural votes when he believes those moves are the right things to do.

When I asked him “What does it mean to be a Steve Hobbs progressive?” His one word reply:  “Dangerous.”

5. Nick Hanauer: Amazon should face anti-trust scrutiny

Nick Hanauer is proposing nothing short of a fundamental re-assessment of how we understand economics.  It’s a hugely important point he’s making, but one deeply technical and not given to sound bites. Nick Hanauer sat down with me during our morning keynote after his prepared remarks.  During our conversation, he argued that increasing concentration of capital among corporate actors is a fundamental threat to the economy and our democracy. During our discussion on the challenges of increasing concentration of wealth and power in the political economy, I asked him if Amazon, Facebook and Google should come under anti-trust oversight.

“Yes, for sure. Look, there aren’t that many rules that you can extract from human history, but for sure one of them is: concentrated power is never good, right? It just is never good. You want power dispersed. Whether it’s political power or economic power or whatever it is. It never is good for the common good for a few people to have everything, and everyone else to have nothing…I think we should apply anti-trust in a much more aggressive way from the top”

You can watch that portion of our conversation here, or watch the entire keynote here.

6.  Inslee Supplemental Budget

Governor Inslee announced the details of his proposed 2018 supplemental budget in a press conference Thursday. The budget proposes a one-time $950 million investment in education to put the state in compliance with the McCleary ruling for the 2018-19 school year. Funding for emergency preparedness, mental health services, and career-connected learning opportunities were also highlighted.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Inslee’s press conference is his announcement of a “carbon pricing plan.” According to the budget overview, much of the new spending for this budget will come from increases in the state’s revenue collections, and the carbon price would help restore some of that money. Though he remained quiet on details, Inslee said more information on the carbon pricing plan will be announced in January when he proposes it to the Legislature.

7.  Pre-filed bills show priorities, bi-partisanship?

Over 100 bills have already been introduced in the pre-filing period, with over 30 of those introduced in the first week. Democrat priorities include restrictions on opioid prescriptions with bills filed by both Rep. Eileen Cody and Senator Kevin Van De Wege. Democrats have also filed bills related to gun control and Breakfast After the Bell programs. Republicans have introduced legislation to ban Atlantic salmon farms and prohibit the use of state bonds for employee salaries, among others.

Both parties have introduced legislation to uphold net neutrality in Washington State with separate bills filed by Rep. Norma Smith and Rep. Drew Hansen. Harassment is also a bi-partisan issue with bills from Rep. Paul Graves and Senator Karen Keiser. Graves also addresses transparency in the legislature with his public records disclosure bill, while Senate Democrats also take on disclosure issues for campaign contributions.