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After 45 years in public life, Sam Reed bids farewell ?>

After 45 years in public life, Sam Reed bids farewell

Sam speaks to 2013 Senate

(Photo courtesy of  Legislative Support Services Photography)

Secretary of State Sam Reed bade a fond farewell to the people of Washington Tuesday after 45 years in public life, including 35 years as a state and county elected official.

Addressing a joint session of the Legislature, Reed brought along a special reminder of his family’s long connection to Washington politics and government — his grandfather Sam Sumner’s battered leather briefcase.  Exactly 100 years earlier, Sumner, a state GOP chairman and longtime party leader, was sworn in as a state House member, beginning a legacy of public service that would extend to Reed’s career and love of politics and government decades later.

“Politics is, and should be, a noble calling,” Reed said in his well-received remarks.  He added:

“It has been an amazing ride for Margie and me. Nearly a lifetime ago, it seems, we came to Olympia from the apple orchards and the Palouse of Eastern Washington to teach and to serve in government. We stayed to raise our family here and to heed the call the service. On our hardest days, we never regretted that decision.

“My heart is full as this Wenatchee boy reflects on the opportunity to be of service and to work … to make Washington a better, more responsive and just government worthy of her people. Whenever we saw a problem to fix or an opportunity to grasp, we went to work. In our better moments, we worked collaboratively, across the aisle, with common purpose and with civility.”

Among the highlights Reed mentioned were:

  1. Saving the State Library.
  2. Creating the nation’s first ground-up Digital Archives.
  3. Restoring confidence in the elections process after the closest governor’s race in America, fighting for the Top 2 Primary and other reforms and improvements in the elections process.
  4. Ramping up service to job-creating companies.
  5. Honoring our history and promoting a new State Heritage Center on the Capitol Campus to house the Archives and State Library and make public records, books and history accessible to the public.

In closing, Reed said:

“Although I am leaving public life, I am not leaving public service. I expect to be deeply engaged as a volunteer, working and mentoring as a private citizen on my signature issues of civility, bipartisanship and moderation.”

The joint session also heard Gov. Chris Gregoire’s optimistic and sweeping State of the State Address recapping her eight years in office and her thoughts about the future.  The gathering also heard farewell remarks from Attorney General Rob McKenna, who succeeded Gregoire at the helm of the 1,100-member AG staff and who lost to Democrat Jay Inslee for Governor in November.  And outgoing Brian Sonntag, the veteran State Auditor, also gave well-received and emotional farewell comments.  The proceedings were broadcast live and archived by TVW.

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WA lawmakers off to dramatic start ?>

WA lawmakers off to dramatic start

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Washington’s 63rd Legislature is off to a dramatic start, with a coalition of minority Republicans banding with two dissident Democrats to take over control of the state Senate.

The debate was fairly low-key. Despite having an elected majority in the upper chamber, the Democrats were left with little option but to accept that 23 Republicans had lined up support of fiscally conservative Democratic Sens. Rodney  Tom and Tim Sheldon to form the 25-member coalition to run the 49-member Senate.

Democratic Leader Ed Murray and other Democrats complained that the two sides could have negotiated a better deal, such as co-majorities on the committees and chairmanships.  Democrats were voted down when they put it to a vote.

The coalition had offered Ds some chairmanships or co-chairmanships, reserving most of the most significant panels for the coalition.  In general principle, the Ds rejected a “coalition” Senate. But several Democrats, including Tracey Eide, Steve Hobbs and Brian Hatfield, said they would accept the offer of sharing power.

In the end, the coalition called the unusual takeover a cause for celebration and prevailed in all test votes, including electing their nominees for leadership and administrative posts.

The House, with Democrats in firm control, had far less drama, going through normal mass swearing-in and speeches.

Outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire, Attorney General Rob McKenna, Secretary of State Sam Reed and Auditor Brian Sonntag, who leave office on Wednesday, will give farewell remarks to a joint legislative session on Tuesday.

Jay Inslee, who defeated McKenna in the fall election, will be sworn in at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Rotunda, and the other eight statewide elected officials will be sworn in at mid-day Wednesday at a joint session.  New Secretary of State Kim Wyman will have a ceremonial swearing in at the State Reception Room at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The Inaugural Ball is Wednesday evening.

WA lawmakers & new gov gird for grueling session ?>

WA lawmakers & new gov gird for grueling session

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Washington lawmakers and incoming Gov. Jay Inslee are arriving in Olympia for a grueling budget-year legislative session that begins at high noon on Monday.

The 63rd Legislature and the newly elected governor face a big budget shortfall — perhaps $2 billion, counting pay raises, rising cost of services for a growing and graying population and a state Supreme Court order to invest more in the state’s public schools.  Democrat Inslee and a number of legislators say they will try to avoid raising state taxes, but talk of finding additional revenue from taxation of Internet sales, marijuana permits and fees, tax loophole closures and other sources.

Inslee and legislators from both parties also talk of a transportation funding package to go to the statewide ballot either this year or next.

But the biggest fireworks may turn out to be political and not fiscal.  Two fiscally conservative Democrats have joined a solid bloc of 23 Republicans to seize control of the state Senate.  The “majority coalition” plans to install the two Democrats in leadership roles, including Rodney Tom as majority leader. The coalition offered power-sharing, but the Ds mostly rejected the invitation to have fusion government essentially run by the minority.

Some analysts fear gridlock, given that the House and governor’s office are controlled by the Democrats, but leaders told an AP pre-legislative forum on Thursday they’re hoping for productive session.  Tom and Senate  Democratic Leader Ed Murray spoke of a “grand bargain” on key issues, such as K-12 enhancement and transportation.

Inslee also was in an upbeat mood heading into the session convening Monday and his inauguration Wednesday morning.  He said he’ll focus on job creation and the economy “like a laser beam” and looks forward to partnering with the Legislature.

Lawmakers’ key tasks will be budget and revenue issues and dealing with a variety of touchy issues, including gun-control. They also are asked to deal with two initiatives and confirming Inslee’s cabinet appointees.

Gregoire unveils $34b budget & tax plan ?>

Gregoire unveils $34b budget & tax plan

20120731b_blogGov. Chris Gregoire, in one of her last major acts as governor, has unveiled a $34 billion, two-year budget for state government, along with a tax package devoted largely to upgrading the K-12 budget.

The Democratic governor, leaving office in January after serving eight years, laid out spending priorities for every sector of state government, including schools and colleges, parks, social and health services, prisons, the courts and Legislature, Puget Sound cleanup, and the departments of government.  She also released transportation and construction budgets.

Easily the most controversial aspect of her budget rollout was her prescription of a billion-dollar revenue package, including a wholesale fuel tax and extension of a business tax on selected professional services, a hospital tax and a junk food tax. Reaction from Republican budgetwriters was mostly of the “dead on arrival” variety.

Democratic Gov.-elect Jay Inslee‘s office put out a noncommittal statement. He campaigned against new taxes this year.

The Gregoire budget would continue to squeeze some programs, including the State Library and the Heritage Center account, but would beef up other areas, including employee salaries, Puget Sound cleanup, parks and, most significantly, education. The Legislature and future governors are on notice from the state Supreme Court that the state has not been meeting the state Constitution’s requirement of ample funding of schools.

While it is a lame duck’s budget, it is nonetheless influential, setting the basic parameters of the budget-and-tax deliberations that await when lawmakers convene Jan. 14. Inslee is inaugurated on Jan. 16, and is not expected to build a ground-up budget proposal of his own. If history is a guide, he will present an amended version of Gregoire’s budget, and will have to deal with whether to include new revenue, such as a ballot referendum for education and/or for transportation.

Both houses of the Legislature will offer their own drafts. The House has a Democratic majority. The Senate has a slim Democratic majority of elected senators, but two of their fiscal conservatives, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, have said they will cross the aisle to form a coalition with the 23 Republicans, seizing control of the upper chamber. Tom would be the new majority leader and Sheldon the president pro tempore.  Democrats on Monday rejected a call for a certain amount of power-sharing and counter-proposed a straight sharing of all leadership and committee posts.

WA voters: Yes to gay marriage, Obama & Democrats … ?>

WA voters: Yes to gay marriage, Obama & Democrats …

But the governor’s race, the marquee state contest in the General Election, remains very close. 

Democrat Jay Inslee, who gave up a safe congressional seat to run for the office being vacated by two-term Gov. Chris Gregoire, led Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna 51.32 percent to 48.68 percent, or about 50,000 votes out of nearly 1.9 million counted.  Inslee told cheering supporters it looked like victory, but didn’t declare himself the winner in so many words.  McKenna, still seeing a path to victory as more votes come in, declined to concede.

Roughly 40 percent of the vote remains to be counted.  Inslee led in nine of the 39 counties. That included vote-rich King, where he was polling 63-37, for a plurality of 140k.

Another close statewide race was for Secretary of State.  Republican Kim Wyman had a lead of about 14,000 over Democrat Kathleen Drew.  Democrats led in all other contests for statewide office.

President Obama picked up Washington’s 12 electoral votes, as expected. He outpolled Mitt Romney 55-43.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, was returned to a third six-year term, polling 59-41 over Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner.

Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer and Suzan DelBene led in the open 10th, 6th and 1st U.S. House districts. Incumbents were easy winners in the other districts.

The Legislature again will have Democratic majorities to work with the new governor.

The state drew some national attention for its ballot measures:

–The state, along with Maryland and Maine, was apparently affirming same-sex marriage. R-74 was the text of the marriage equality bill passed by the Legislature last spring and placed on the ballot by opponents.  It was passing narrowly, 52-48, but proponents were already celebrating. The margin was about 68,000 with 1.9 million votes tallied, including a 65-35 affirmative vote in populous King County.

–By an even larger margin, 56-44 percent, the state was approving a plan, I-502, to authorize, regulate and tax recreational sales and use of marijuana by adults. The federal government said the vote does not change drug policies against marijuana growing, sales and use.

–Fourth time’s the charm? A plan to authorize up to 40 publicly funded charter schools, I-1240, was narrowly ahead.

–Tim Eyman’s perennial plan  to require a two-thirds supermajority to pass taxes in Olympia, I-1185, passed easily, with nearly two-thirds of the voters in favor — 65-35. The concept of a supermajority, however, is being challenged in the state Supreme Court.

Secretary of State Sam Reed said the turnout was exceptionally strong, possibly higher than the 81 percent he initially forecast.

“There were so many significant decisions for voters to make, and so many interesting state and local ballot propositions. There was literally something for everyone, and I was so glad to see the Washington voters get so engaged in our elections.”

`The race is on’: WA primaries next up ?>

`The race is on’: WA primaries next up

Washington’s campaign season is officially underway, with hundreds of candidates signed up for 364 offices, from the U.S. Senate and statewide offices to key races that will determine control of the state Legislature and the future of 10 congressional districts.

Secretary of State Sam Reed said he was pleased with the remarkable rush of interest in state and local office, given the difficult problems facing Washington state and the sometimes harsh nature of modern campaigning and the unpredictable influence of powerful independent interest groups.

Reed said it may be a record for turnover of statewide, congressional and legislative offices. He predicted heavy voter interest in the upcoming campaigns and elections.

Last week was Filing Week at the State Elections Division and county election offices. Many candidates filed online, and others showed up in person for the time-honored ritual of rallying with supporters and using the official filing as an opportunity to try out campaign messages and fundraising. Monday was the final day for candidates to withdraw; the final list of candidates will be official on Tuesday.

Next stop is the Top 2 Primary.

Under the 2004 citizen initiative that created the new system, the two most popular candidates for each office will advance to the General Election, without regard to party label.  Candidates designated their party preference last week, most selecting traditional Republican or Democratic Party as their preference. Some designated no party preference or listed a preference for a “party”  that doesn’t exist at all, Independent GOP or (R) Hope&Change or Democratic-Repub Party.

The party preference doesn’t mean the party has endorsed or recognized the candidate. The Primary is a winnowing process, not a nominating process. No party is guaranteed a runoff spot; indeed some districts will have finalists from the same party preference.

Primary ballots go out by July 20, with a postmark or dropoff box return deadline of Aug. 7. The General Elections deadline is Nov. 6.

Large numbers of candidates lined up for most of the marquee races, although many races have clear frontrunners for the two runoff spots.  Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna have largely had the gubernatorial field to themselves for the past year.  Democratic incumbent Chris Gregoire is stepping down after eight years in office.  Three other statewide offices are guaranteed to turn over: Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor.

Treasurer Jim McIntire, a Democrat, drew no opposition from either party, a rarity.  Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, were leaders among the crowd filing for the Senate seat.

Congressional races firmed up,  including a sudden gusher of candidates who signed up for a one-month term remaining on Inslee’s term in the 1st District.  Democratic State Chairman Dwight Pelz had hoped to clear the field for a temporary seatholder, Snohomish County Council Chairman Brian Sullivan, but Darcy Burner and other candidates jumped in on Friday.  Sullivan (more…)

1st District voters will fill Inslee vacancy ?>

1st District voters will fill Inslee vacancy

Voters in Washington’s 1st Congressional District will choose a successor to Jay Inslee for the final weeks of his two-year term.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, with the support of Secretary of State Sam Reed, announced Monday that she is calling a special election to coincide with the regularly scheduled Aug. 7 Top 2 Primary and the Nov. 6 General Election.

Democrat Inslee, a 15-year veteran of Congress, resigned effective March 20 to devote full time to his bid for governor.

The governor said “It is important that the people of the 1st District have representation, especially in December when key votes on matters that affect our state may need to be cast,” including sales tax reform and deductibility of sales taxes.

The timeline: Filing Week opens May 14. All 1st District candidates may run for both the short term and the full two-year term that begins Jan. 3.  The Top 2 Primary has a ballot postmark deadline of Aug. 7. The General Election has a postmark deadline of Nov. 6.  The election results will be certified by Dec. 6 and the congressman can be sworn in for the final weeks of the unexpired term.

Who votes? The short term is filled by the “old” 1st District in Puget Sound country, the voters who elected Inslee.  The full term will be filled by voters in the newly drawn 1st District, a political swing district that extends north to the Canadian border.

Here is Secretary Reed’s statement:

“I support the Governor’s decision to allow voters of the 1st Congressional District to fill the remainder of Rep. Inslee’s term by holding a special election in conjunction with our regularly scheduled primary and general election.  This will assure representation for the district when some crucial issues are decided in December.

“The U.S. Constitution provides that the state’s `executive authority’ must issue a writ of election to fill U.S. House vacancies, and under state law, when less than eight months remain in the term, the special election is run in tandem with the regular primary and general election.

“The winner of the full two-year term will be chosen by the voters of the newly redistricted 1st District, but the short term must be filled by the voters of the old 1st District who elected Jay Inslee. Candidates will be allowed to run for both the short term and the long term. There is no requirement that a congressional candidate live within the district boundaries.

“We will work with the affected counties to explain this situation clearly.  Again, the old district’s voters will elect the winner of the `short’ term and the new boundaries will be used for the full term that begins Jan. 3.

“If we had attempted to run both the short- and long-term elections in the new 1st District, that quite possibly would have led to the winner of the short term not being (more…)

WA redistricting panel produces new district maps ?>

WA redistricting panel produces new district maps

Washington’s citizen Redistricting Commission, under the gun to reach bipartisan agreement on new congressional and legislative district boundaries, pulled it all together just a few hours before their absolute deadline on the night of New Year’s Day.

With all four voting members — two Republicans and two Democrats — signing off on the plan, the new boundaries are expected to take effect this spring.  Under the voter-approved constitutional amendment that created the process in 1983, lawmakers will have only a limited ability to tweak the boundaries, and then only by a hard-to-achieve two-thirds vote in both chambers.  Gov. Chris Gregoire will have no role in the process. There has been no threat of a court challenge.

Fresh district boundaries were required by the state and federal constitutions to reflect the population growth and shifts in the 2010 Census.  Some districts were badly out of shape, some needing to shed large numbers of voters due to population growth over the past decade and other areas needing to gain population.

Also, the state was awarded a new 10th Congressional District, the first new district since 1990.  The district was placed in Olympia/Shelton and northward into Pierce County. The 9th District was formed into a minority majority district, meaning the Caucasian population is less than 50 percent.  Two districts, the 8th and the 3rd, both held by Republicans, picked up more Eastern Washington voters.

Analysts said the open 1st Congressional District could well be the most competitive district. Incumbent Jay Inslee is leaving to run for governor.  Candidates began ann0uncing for the various districts within minutes of the commission releasing its maps last week.

Redrawing the legislative districts also were a task for the commission, with the 15th in the Yakima Valley becoming the state’s first majority Latino district, and the 6th District in the Spokane area becoming more competitive. Some incumbent legislators in Western Washington were shifted from their current districts.

Here is the letter that the commission sent Secretary Reed, announcing submission of its plan to the Legislature.

 

 

Gregoire bows out of 2012 gov’s race ?>

Gregoire bows out of 2012 gov’s race

Washington will have a new governor in 2013.

Two-term Democratic incumbent Chris Gregoire made it official Monday, telling reporters on the front porch of the Executive Mansion that she won’t seek a third term in 2012.  She talked about “amazing triumphs and difficult challenges,” and said stepping down is “the right decision for me and my family.” Her news, no surprise to politicos, means a wide-open governor’s race for the first time since Gary Locke stepped aside after two terms and anointed Gregoire as his favored successor.

Republican Rob McKenna, who succeeded Gregoire as attorney general in 2005, kicked off his race for governor last week. Gregoire’s apparent favorite to be her successor, Congressman Jay Inslee, got advance word of the governor’s decision — and her encouragement.  Inslee says he’ll have something to say soon.  Others from both parties may also chime in.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, the state’s chief elections officer, said the state can look forward to a lively race for governor, possibly one of the most competitive in America.  He said: (more…)