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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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March 12, 2008 3:35 PM

The gracious lobbying community

Posted by David Postman

Some Olympia business lobbyists asked lawmakers for a $12,000 earmark to pay for rent they owe the state.

The state had failed to bill the lobbyists for their communal office space on the ground floor of the Capitol. Lobbyists said it was the state's problem and they didn't want to have to pay. At one time the debt was $24,000. Lobbyists had hoped lawmakers would pony up the rest. But it didn't fly.

"It just didn't make it," said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Maybe the lobbyists should charge admission tonight at the legislators' retirement party they are sponsoring.

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March 12, 2008 1:41 PM

What did Chopp say about the prospect of taxes?

Posted by David Postman

During the taping of TVW’s Olympia On Call yesterday, House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler was asked about the possibility of a tax increase next year. She responded by saying that a recent news story quoting House Speaker Frank Chopp acknowledging the possibility was a mischaracterization of his comments and that one reporter had gotten it wrong.

I wasn’t here at the time. But I found the story today and read a transcript of the Feb. 28 media availability with Chopp. (I also have a tape of the meeting.) The story strikes me as a fair summary of what Chopp said. But you can read the transcript yourself and see if you agree with this from Associated Press reporter Curt Woodward:

Washington's powerful House speaker has acknowledged the possibility of tax increases to balance next year's state budget, but adds that Democrats want to avoid such a step if possible.

Here’s a transcript of the key part of the meeting with reporters.

Question: What do you think the prospects are - as much as you allow yourself to have a crystal ball in front of us - for potential tax increase in the next session? I mean, the Senate even has some proposed in their budget now.

Chopp: Oh the, liquor tax surcharge or whatever it's called?

Reporter: Yeah, right.

Chopp: I don't know, we'll have to deal with that then.

I don't want to anticipate having to do that, but we've got to see how the budget unfolds and how the revenue forecasts actually come in the door.

We'd obviously rather not do that. But we've done that in the past when we've had good justification for it, and when we've needed to make investments.

I mean, part of the reason why our economy's doing better is that we've made investments in our transportation infrastructure and in other things, much more so than other states, by far.

So, we're benefiting from that. Because whenever you invest in a transportation project, you not only get the economic return of the construction, but you've got a lot better economy going throughout the private sector.

So it has this ripple effect that's very beneficial, both for the public coffers, but also for private business.

So, we have literally invested more than the vast majority of other states in these infrastructure projects - on a per capita basis, by the way - obviously there are some states that are bigger than us, obviously. But on a per capita basis, we've done quite well."

And those investments have paid off for the economy, which then generates more revenue into the state coffers, which goes to great stuff.

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March 12, 2008 9:40 AM

Real life civics lesson

Posted by David Postman

A deal has been struck on a bill that had pitted Boeing against state unions. Labor-backed House Bill 3139 would have said decisions about disputed worker benefits made by the state Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals are due on the date issued, even if the employer appeals the decision. Under current law, which Boeing and some other large employers wanted to maintain, the benefits are suspended pending the appeal.

What may be interesting to you - but I know won’t be news to Capital denizens - is that the compromise bill agreed to by a conference committee of House and Senate negotiators was actually negotiated and written by representatives of labor and Boeing. This e-mail from staff of the Senate Labor, Commerce, Research & Development Committee went out yesterday to members of the House and Senate labor committees. It makes clear what is a common practice in Olympia - lobbyists doing the work our civics books say is done by lawmakers and their staff.

Hello all -

House and Senate Joint rules require that a conference meeting be scheduled and notice of the meeting be posted. The rules also require that a conference committee report be available for 24 hours prior to consideration.

Attached is suggested language for the conference report on 3139 as developed by Greg Pierce (representing Boeing) and Jeff Johnson and Owen Linch (both representing labor); and a side-by-side showing the differences between the report and the bill as it passed the House and Senate.

At this point, we need to put together a place and a time for a conference meeting. Please review the attached language. If the language is acceptable to everybody, the meeting shouldn’t take long, and I suggest the meeting happen sometime this afternoon.

Please share any concerns and suggested meeting times.

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March 12, 2008 8:00 AM

The media and Spitzer

Posted by David Postman

In the Wall Street Journal today, Kimberly Strassel writes about what she calls the media enablers of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

The former New York attorney general never believed normal rules applied to him, and his view was validated time and again by an adoring press. "You play hard, you play rough, and hopefully you don't get caught," said Mr. Spitzer two years ago. He never did get caught, because most reporters were his accomplices.

She has some good examples of how Spitzer was able to use the press for what appeared to be personal vendettas. It's worth a read this morning.

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Recent entries

Mar 12, 08 - 03:35 PM
The gracious lobbying community

Mar 12, 08 - 01:41 PM
What did Chopp say about the prospect of taxes?

Mar 12, 08 - 09:40 AM
Real life civics lesson

Mar 12, 08 - 08:00 AM
The media and Spitzer

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