Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Republicans Finagling Passage of AHCA

The Republican-led House passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) May 4, without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment of the plan. Last week, May 24th, the CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) provided their assessment, which was required before the bill could be sent to the Senate for consideration. The CBO results were bad, just as republicans anticipated. Nevertheless, they plan to go ahead with their pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Why? Because it plays to their base, and because it’s another brick in the Obama legacy wall they are intent on tearing down. They need bricks, lots of bricks, to build "The Wall."

Republican debates and machinations on the health care bill have been held behind closed doors. Members have no doubt been threatened with severe repercussions should they leak anything to the Press (after all, one Texas republican recently threatened to shoot a colleague in the head over an altercation on immigration). What has emerged however, is that Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and his cohorts are attempting to have the AHCA considered under special budget rules designed to protect it from Democratic defeat.

The Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough and her staff will decide whether Republicans can use the budget reconciliation process to pass the AHCA in the Senate. Under the budget reconciliation process, Republicans would only need 50 "yes" votes from GOP members to pass the healthcare bill, assuming no Democrats vote for the bill and Vice President Mike Pence casts a tie-breaking vote — both good assumptions.

Republicans are promoting the AHCA’s estimated $119 billion reduction of the U.S. deficit over ten years, $11.9b per year. For perspective, that’s 1.4% of the 2018 U.S. military budget. The reduction comes through steep reductions in Medicaid and the replacement of current subsidies with less-generous tax credits.

Among other things, the republican plan would leave some 23 million people without health insurance. People age 50 to 64 would be hit particularly hard, especially those with lower incomes. According to the CBO, premiums for a 64-year-old earning $26,500 a year would increase by a whopping $14,400 in 2026. In addition, people with preexisting conditions may not even be able to purchase health insurance because the prices would be prohibitively high.

One republican lawmaker, Rep Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, recently claimed in a heated town hall meeting that, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” Of course we know through tragic experience that isn’t true — and studies have validated that experience. People do die because they lack access to health care. Usually, the people who die are the elderly, sick, and disabled. Who knows, killing off people who drive up health care costs may be the republicans’ nefarious plan — all that talk about “death panels” gave them the idea.

Homeless in Los Angeles

So, what to do?

Well, there are some republicans who appear troubled by the cruelty of this bill. There are others, of course, for whom any federal government subsidized healthcare is anathema. Forget them. Focus on the former, they include: Dean Heller (Nev), Patrick Toomey (PA), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Bill Cassidy (La), and John Hoeven (N.D.). Jeff Flake, and John McCain, both of Arizona (Flake is up for reelection in 2018), Susan Collins (ME). Use your social media smarts to email, tweet (they all have Twitter accounts), and post of their Facebook pages. Call their offices. Use your Facebook to identify your FB friends who reside in the state of one of these swing senate votes and urge them to contact their representatives. Just DO WHAT YOU CAN DO!

And continue to bombard Rep Dan Newhouse with calls, emails, postcards, tweets, Facebook comments, and requests for face-to-face meetings. Real life anecdotes work best.

Please share what you're doing on our various group Facebook pages.

Stronger together!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Washington Legislature 101

This is taken directly from the League of Education Voters website. It may be helpful to those who have forgotten much of what they learned in their high school civics class, or for those of us who learned about state government in a different state, or in a different country. There is a movement afoot to reemphasize civics and retool it to be more relevant to the digital age, and the age of "fake news." Sounds like a good idea to me.

How does your government work?

The Washington State Legislature has two chambers—a Senate with 49 members and a House of Representatives with 98 members.

Who represents me?

You live in a legislative district and are represented in the Legislature by one state senator and two state representatives. Senators are elected to four-year terms and representatives are elected to two-year terms. Find your legislative district on the Washington State Legislature website.

How are legislative districts created?

Districts are divided by an equal population. Now that the 2010 census is complete, districts have been redrawn to reflect the latest population shifts. There are 49 legislative districts. For more information on redistricting, visit the Secretary of State’s website.

When does the Legislature meet?

The Legislature meets annually on the second Monday in January. In odd-numbered years, such as 2015, the Legislature meets for 105 days to write a two-year state budget and pass laws. In even-numbered years, they meet for 60 days to make adjustments to the two-year budget and pass laws.

How does the Washington state budget get finalized?

Washington state operates on a two-year budget. In December of even-numbered years, the governor releases a proposed budget. When the Legislature convenes in January, they begin work on formulating their own budget plans. After the Senate and House pass their respective plans, leaders in each chamber come together to negotiate and come up with one budget that can pass the full Legislature. The final budget is then submitted to the governor, who may veto some or all of the budget. Once the governor signs the budget, it takes effect on July 1 of each odd-numbered year.

Who is the Speaker of the House?

The Speaker of the House is the top leadership position in the state house. The Speaker of the House shapes the agenda and determines what legislation will pass the floor of the House and be sent to the Senate.
In the House, Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) was re-elected as Speaker of the House. He has served as the speaker since January 1999. However, he shared the gavel with a Republican co-speaker from 1999–2002 when there was a tie in the number of seats held by Democrats and Republicans in the House.

Who is the majority leader?

In the Senate, the majority leader is the top leadership position similar to Speaker of the House. As of December 1, 2014, Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) is Senate Majority Leader. In the House, the majority leader is the second highest leadership post under the Speaker. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) is House Majority Leader. The majority leader makes sure that members’ votes are in line with the party. The minority party is led by the minority leader.

What does the Ways and Means Committee do?

The Senate Ways and Means Committee writes the state operating budget, which determines how state revenue is spent on the public’s priorities such as education, health care and public safety. This committee also determines if a bill will move forward based upon the monetary amount attached to it and its impact on the budget as a whole.

How many seats do Democrats and Republicans hold?

Currently the Democratic Caucus controls the House of Representatives (50–47) and the Majority Coalition Caucus (made up of 25 Republicans and 1 independent Democrat) controls the Senate (26–23).

How do I find my legislators?

In the Legislature, you are represented by one state senator and two state representatives. Visit the Washington State Legislature website and type in your voting address to find out who represents you in Olympia.

How do I get a bill passed?

Have an idea for a new law? Talk to one of your state legislators to get them to sponsor a bill. They and their staff will work with you and the Code Reviser’s Office, who are non-partisan attorneys, to take your idea and draft the legislation. Once you have a bill, it must go through the legislative process before it becomes law.

How do I track a bill?

Visit the bill information website and type in the four-digit bill number (e.g., HB 1000). A history of the bill will be displayed including when it received a public hearing and how members of the House and/or Senate voted on it. At the bottom of the page, you can read the Bill Reports for a simple summary of the bill and what it would do.
The League of Education Voters also maintains a bill tracker during the legislative session of education-related bills.

What is a caucus?

A caucus is a group of House or Senate members of a political party. In the Legislature, there are four caucuses: Senate Democratic Caucus, Senate Republican Caucus, House Democratic Caucus, and House Republican Caucus.
Between votes on the floor, legislators will hold caucus meetings with their colleagues from the same political party. For example, a democratic state representative will caucus with the House Democrats. During this meeting, members will discuss the merits of a bill and how they should vote on legislation. Should a member of the Legislature choose, they may caucus with a political party other than their own.
Although the public is not allowed to observe caucus meetings, it is possible to send a note to your legislator in support or opposition of a bill. You may give campus security, who are stationed by the doors to the House and Senate floors, the note to your legislator.

What’s a whip?

A whip is one of several leadership positions in the Democratic and Republican caucus who assist the majority or minority leader in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The whip has several important duties such as counting votes, checking attendance, and maintaining caucus discipline on partisan issues and procedural questions.

What’s a companion bill?

If the same bill is proposed in both the House and Senate, it’s known as a companion bill. Having two versions of the same bill working through the legislative process increases the chance that it will become law. However, it also makes the process more complex since supporters/opponents of the bill need to follow the changes to each bill closely and decide which one is the best to send to the governor’s desk.

How do I get to the state capitol and where can I park?

Visit the state’s website for directions to the state capitol in Olympia from Interstate 5.
For parking, we recommend using one of the nine visitor parking lots on the capitol campus. View the capitol campus map for the parking lot locations and fees.

The House has two K–12 committees: K–12 and Appropriations. Why is that?

In 2006, state Democrats built up large majorities in the Legislature. To provide more leadership roles for legislators, several new committees were created. As a result, the House Education Appropriations Committee was created as a sub-committee to the Appropriations Committee.
The Senate, on the other hand, has Early Learning and K12 combined, while the House has Early Learning and Social Services combined.
The party in control in each chamber decides how to arrange legislative committees. Since there are more members in the House (98) compare to the Senate (49), there is more flexibility in arranging committee structures in the House. It would be difficult to schedule and fill three separate education committees in the Senate.

What happens during the opening week of the Legislature?

Opening day is largely ceremonial, but legislators do meet in caucus. New members get sworn in, and some work will take place in committee work sessions later in the afternoon. For many freshman legislators, opening day is more than just being sworn in and settling into their offices. Many have family come from around the country to be supportive and be part of the ceremony.
The first week covers a lot of basics and logistics. Committee chairs tell members how the committee is run and go through proper procedures. There will be a number of committee meetings, and there might be some floor sessions on bills.
On Tuesday, the Governor will give his State of the State address. The House will hear testimony on the governor’s proposed supplemental budget, and the Senate may as well.

What is a floor session?

A floor session is where all members of a chamber (House or Senate) vote on bills. This is when a bill is either introduced and referred to a committee, or when a committee has passed a bill and the bill has returned to the chamber for final passage.

Do my legislators pay attention to my emails and letters?

If you send a postcard or email to your legislators, make sure that you include your address. They take more notice if they know you are a constituent of their district. Remember, you want them to remember you. While they can’t read all of the emails they receive, they will begin to learn your name.
Lastly, if you send an email asking for something and you get it, make sure to send a thank-you email. You are building a relationship with your legislators with a goal that they will “want” to talk to you.

What is a “striker” in a bill?

A striker is an amendment to a bill that is offered when a legislator wants to make substantial changes to legislation. Often, a striker begins with “strike everything after the enacting clause and insert the following.”

How many bills are introduced on average during a session?

In even-numbered years, 1,479 bills have been proposed on average since 1984. In odd-numbered years, the average is 2,442. The Legislature meets for 105 days in odd-numbered years, giving legislators more time to introduce legislation.

What are the procedures for giving testimony?

Before you arrive at the public hearing, you should prepare your remarks. It’s best to prepare your notes in outline form since reading from prepared text is frowned upon. In your notes, include what legislation you are supporting or opposing and the top reasons why. Practice your remarks using your outlined notes and make sure not to exceed three minutes.
At the public hearing, sign up to testify on the clipboards by the door and indicate whether you are pro or con. If you wrote out your remarks, you can give copies of your testimony to the committee clerk. When testifying, speak into the microphone slowly and clearly. Begin by stating your name and group or organization you represent.
Visit the Legislature’s website for more information on giving public testimony.

What are work sessions?

No public testimony is given during work sessions. Instead, legislators call upon experts to talk about a specific topic, such as K–12 funding. Legislators use this time to ask questions and learn more about legislative issues.

What is a “null and void” clause?

A “null and void” clause means the legislation will not be enacted if it does not receive funding.

What is a fiscal note?

A fiscal note is a cost or savings estimate of the bill’s impact on the Washington state budget.

What is a substitute bill?

A substitute bill is a new bill that replaces the original one.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Benton County 2017 Candidates Who Have Filed

There are 56 offices open for election in 2017. They include Benton County Sheriff and Benton County Treasurer, and twenty city council seats. Candidates who have filed are listed below. Some information on the candidates for some positions can be found in this Tri-City Herald article. Other information can be accessed via the hyperlinks below. Feel free to provide info on candidates in the comments section.

Sheriff Partisan Office 1-year unexpired term

Ken Lattin
(Prefers Republican Party)
4100 Jenny Lake Ct
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 528-9131

Jerry Hatcher
(Prefers Republican Party)
98303 E Ridgeview Dr
Kennewick WA 99338
(509) 942-4474

Treasurer Partisan Office 1-year unexpired term

Ken Spencer
(Prefers Republican Party)
106 Oakmont Ct
Richland WA 99352
(509) 845-0481

Port of Benton, Commissioner District 2 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term

Robert D Larson
2420 Harris Ave
Richland WA 99354

Port of Kennewick, Commissioner District 3 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term

Skip Novakovich
PO Box 5495
Kennewick WA 99336
(509) 586-7858

Rick Reil
36611 S Oak St
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 727-1450

Kennewick Public Hospital District

Commissioner Pos. 1 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term

Leonard Dreisbach
3309 W. 38th Ave
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 948-1017

Commissioner Pos. 2 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term

Gary G Long
3913 S Olson Ct
Kennewick WA 99337

Raymond H Sjerven
813 S Auburn St
Kennewick WA 99336
(509) 438-5135

Commissioner Pos. 3 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term 

Marvin Kinney
197404 54th Pr SE
Kennewick WA 99337

Prosser Public Hospital District

Commissioner Pos. 1 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term

Susan L Reams
89002 W 119 PR NW
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 832-0781

Don Green
106405 W King Tull Rd
Prosser WA 93550
(509) 845-2855

Commissioner Pos. 2 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term

Keith Sattler
P O BOX 652
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 786-1102

City of Benton City

Council Pos. 1 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Lisa Stade
1551 N.E. 11th St.
Benton City WA 99320
(509) 528-7088

Grant Pratt
503 Belle st
Benton City WA 99320
(402) 202-1708

Council Pos. 2 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Mary Lettau
1304 Della St.
Benton City WA 99320
(509) 948-2452

David A. Press
1521 ne 12th street
Benton city WA 99320
(360) 719-0689

City of Kennewick

Council Position 1 Ward 1 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Don Britain
6010 W Okanogan Loop
Kennewick WA 99336
(509) 430-4178

Lindy Verhei
8631 W. Klamath Ave
Kennewick wa 99336
(509) 544-8110

Council Position 2 Ward 2 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Shane Fast
3109 w 46th ave
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 380-4500

Gregory A. Jones
518 N Underwood St
Kennewick WA 99336

Steve Lee
3312 W 34th Ave
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 987-3339

Council Position 3 Ward 3 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

John H. Trumbo
3501 S. Garfield Place
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 366-2241

Council Position 4 At Large Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Jim Millbauer
713 S Young Pl
Kennewick WA 99336
(509) 531-4134

Bill McKay
3516 W. 46th Ave.
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 586-8303

Christy Watts
2623 S Kellogg St
Kennewick WA 99338
(509) 308-8986

Ed Pacheco
3006 S Vancouver St
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 551-2831

Leo A. Perales
1411 W 16th Ave
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 551-8496

Austin (Griff) Griffin
6004 W okanogan loop
Kennewick WA 99336
(509) 572-6232

City of Prosser

Council Pos. 1 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Don Aubrey
723 Ford St
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 786-1591

Council Pos. 2 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Morgan Everett
953 Parkside Dr
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 786-2889

Council Pos. 3 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Rob Siemens
2013 Benson Ave
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 781-1578

Council Pos. 7 Nonpartisan Office 2-year unexpired term

Stephanie D Groom
1115 Court St
Prosser WA 99350

City of Richland

Council Pos. 1 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Rhoda Williams
1761 George Washington #250
Richland WA 99354
(206) 304-9691

Kalen M Finn
1943 Forest Avenue
Richland WA 99354
(509) 430-9153

Jess Monterey
785 Canyon St Apt 107
Richland WA 99352
(509) 205-9436

Bob Thompson
504 W Margaret
Pasco WA 99301
(509) 547-4011

Council Pos. 3 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Sandra Kent
P.O. Box 1354
Richland WA 99352
(509) 521-9350

Shir Regev
114 Patton Street
Richland WA 99354
(509) 460-7220

Lloyd Becker
2120 Duportail St Apt 1
Richland WA 99352
(509) 308-3287

Council Pos. 4 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Michael Luzzo
300 Van Giesen St Apt 11
Richland WA 99354
(509) 438-9527

Ginger Wireman
2435 Michael Ave
Richland WA 99352
(509) 528-9377

Ryan Lukson
337 Gleneagles Ct
Richland WA 99352
(206) 915-6386

Council Pos. 7 Nonpartisan Office 2-year term 

Dori Luzzo Gilmour
2051 Howell Ave
Richland WA 99354
(509) 366-9706

Eldon E Eskeli
712 Snow
Richland WA 99352
(509) 366-6464

Frank Boasen
1241 Fuji Way
Richland WA 99352
(907) 529-2467

Michael Alvarez
2093 Newhaven Loop
Richland WA 99352
(509) 531-1640

City of West Richland

Mayor Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Brent Gerry
P.0. Box 5450
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 948-0512

Jerry A Peltier
4301 Laurel Dr
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 967-3040

Council Pos. 1 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Willliam (Dan) White
4154 Laurel Drive
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 531-7662

Robert Perkes
4791 W Vangiesen St Suite B
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 554-4444

John E. Smart
400 S. 54th Ave
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 212-2472

Council Pos. 2 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Rich Buel
4786 Thrush Ln.
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 967-9362

Merle N Johnson
4625 Blue Heron Blvd
West Richland WA 99353

Council Pos. 3 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Gail Brown
4405 Chelan Drive
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 539-9981

Michelle Marcum
4000 fallon dr
West Richland wa 99353
(509) 967-2165

Council Pos. 4 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Richard Bloom
5900 Everett St
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 539-7630

Council Pos. 6 Nonpartisan Office 2-year unexpired term

Fred Brink
4003 Cascade Dr
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 713-0483

Steven Shupe
3604 Equestrian dr
West Richland WA 99353
(509) 302-0030

Kate Moran
684 S 58th Ave
West Richland WA 99353
(636) 443-5583

Kennewick School District 17

Director No. 1 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Heather Kintzley
640 S. Young Place
Kennewick WA 99336
(509) 521-3597

Mike Massey
13516 Cottonwood Creek Blvd
Kennewick WA 99338
(509) 820-6568

Director No. 2 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Dawn Adams
PO Box 7352
Kennewick WA 99336
(509) 539-9968

Kiona-Benton City School District 52

Director District 2 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Ivan Howard
PO Box 52
Benton City WA 99320
(509) 947-5200

Clark D. Carlson
20904 E. Tara Rd
Benton City WA 99320
(509) 948-6620

Director District 3 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Leslie L. Johnson
1209 Fig St
Benton City WA 99320
(509) 378-1801

Teddy Bryan
PO Box 387
Benton City WA 99320
(509) 528-4662

Director District 5 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Tawny Garrett
PO Box 932
Benton City WA 99320
(509) 308-2991

Jacob Johnson
4602 W Neyens Rd
Benton City WA 99320
(541) 379-2765

Finely School District 53

Director District 3 Nonpartisan Office 2-year unexpired term 

Julie Bussell
225628 E Game Farm Road
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 582-9527

Larry Lozier
249136 e hover rd
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 531-1253

Director District 5 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Kenton G. Cox
44808 S Fremont Rd
Kennewick WA 99337

Prosser Consolidated School District 116 Benton, Klickitat 

Director District 3 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Jesalyn C. Cole
174306 W. Byron Rd.
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 781-4899

Director District 4 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Scott Coleman
PO Box 44
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 778-1978

Maricela Sanchez
1001 6th Street
Prosser WA 99350
(917) 476-6999

Director District 5 Nonpartisan Office 2-year unexpired term

Scotty Hunt
147401 W Hoisington Rd
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 572-7888

Grandview School District 116/200 Benton, Yakima 

Director District 2 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Dale H. Burgeson
(509) 882-2032

Director District 5 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Scott A. McKinney

Richland School District 400 Benton 

Director No. 1 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term

Matthew Bishop
2105 N Steptoe St, TRL 141
Kennewick WA 99336
(509) 302-8175

Heather Cleary
1126 Stallion Place
Richland WA 99352
(509) 627-3400

Director No. 2 Nonpartisan Office 4-year term 

Rick Jansons
1386 Baywood Ave
Richland WA 99352
(509) 528-3488

Ron Higgins
806 Cedar Ave.
Richland WA 99352
(509) 946-3596

Fire District #1 Benton 

Commissioner Pos. 1 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term

Jerry Morris
2901 B S Gum St
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 627-2394

Scott Carpenter
2923 S Yew St
Kennewick WA 99337
(509) 582-5991

Fire District #2 Benton 

Commissioner Pos. 1 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term 

Barry Orth
53601 W Knox Rd
Benton City WA 99320
(509) 205-8570

Fire District #4 Benton 

Commissioner Pos. 1 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term 

Gregg A Couch
77609 N Yakima River Dr
West Richland WA 99353

West Benton Regional Fire Authority Benton 

Commissioner Position 3 Nonpartisan Office 2-year term

David Moon
903 market st
prosser WA 99350
(509) 786-6811

Commissioner Position 5 Nonpartisan Office 2-year term 

Richard Clizbe
140508 W 1406 PRSW
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 222-8277

Kevin F. Hanlon
PO Box 691
Prosser WA 99350
(509) 832-0328

Plymouth Water District Benton 

Commissioner Position 1 Nonpartisan Office 6-year term 

Ismael Delgado
PO Box 165
Plymouth WA 99346
(509) 492-1021

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Washington State Budget

Washington lawmakers go into second special session on the state budget. Inslee takes capital gains tax off the table.
Washington State Lawmakers Hard at Work on the Budget?
The Republican-led Washington Senate and Democratically-controlled state House can't agree on how to raise the money needed to meet a state Supreme Court mandate to adequately fund public schools. Republicans proposed an increase in property taxes, and an elimination of local school levies. Inslee and Democrats proposed a capital gains tax, and a carbon tax. No one has proposed a state income tax. Odd.

Washington is one of just four states that doesn’t tax any individual or corporate income. We get most of our revenues from sales taxes -- 78%. Our combined state and average local sales-tax rate is 8.9 percent, the nation’s fifth-highest. Washington is No. 1 for liquor sales tax, and we’re in the top 10 for taxes on gasoline and cigarettes. And now Washington expects to make about $730 million from sales of legalized marijuana over the next two years. Sounds like a lot, but it's a pittance relative to our $41.3 billion total revenues that bankroll the state.

Let's either find something else to tax, say vitamin water (we already taxed physical fitness services) or institute an income tax. That way we won't be known for socking it to the poor to pay for operating the state.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kendall Miller's Remarks on He and Heidi Hill Receiving the 2017 Norm Miller Leadership Award

Heidi & Kendall, 2017
Thanks to the Norm Miller family for making this event possible and for all the hard work by them and the other organizers. You’ve done a wonderful job.

I think there is no way you can honor the two of us without honoring yourselves for all the work that has been done both over the years and most encouragingly, since 11/9/2016. I find it truly heartwarming and personally validating to see the power of democracy in action as so many people rise off their respective couches and say, Here I am, I need to do something. Most of all I thank Heidi for her support of my passion for this. We want to thank our family, our friends (both long-standing and our fresh, new ones), our many mentors, and all of you kindred spirits who have put your energy into this work.

It has been stunning that so many common-sense and beneficial aspects of living in the United States have become so surprisingly fragile. We have seen how easy it is for a non-representative Congress and a non-representative President to endanger and disassemble so many good things on which so many good people depend. As members of our society and as people who seek to be responsive to the best our consciences offer, we simply cannot be idle in the face of this threat to our social fabric.

I have no doubt that academic careers will be made on analyses of the 2016 election. But frankly, we don’t have the time for that. Things are just moving too fast. And they’re moving in the wrong direction. We must grasp the tools that we know are effective and quickly capitalize on the new challenges and opportunities that appear, literally, each and every day.

We must expand our models of organization in this fast-paced environment. The classic geographic model of organizing is the neighbor to neighbor network. We must augment this classic model by building and nurturing more networks in every way possible. There are two dimensions for growth in networks: nurturing the networks you already have and expanding your constellation of networks to include more people and more networks. We have new forms of electronic communications that make some of it easier. And yet, we cannot let technical skills become a barrier that leaves good people behind.

Our behavior and our message needs to be attractive and consistent. We must communicate, on all fronts, common values that unite people with diverse cultures and backgrounds into a movement of solidarity and reconciliation. Diversity must be our strength. These times demand that we allow our associations and circles to be “reached into” by people who have different life experiences than our own, whatever our own experiences may have been.

Diverse organizations of people have people problems. There will be bullies and slugs.  There will be saints and skunks. And, honestly, each of us will likely be different things at different times. But if we are to save democracy in this country, we need to recognize and stop our bad behaviors and exercise and strengthen our good ones. There will always be areas of irreconcilable differences. But we move forward when we use grace, patience, reconciliation, and the overarching audacity to unite our efforts despite our differences to serve the needs of vulnerable people. 

Make no mistake about it. We all are vulnerable. Some are experiencing that now. For those who aren’t, you must understand that in circumstances beyond your own control, your time could come.
The power of democracy is seen when a set of key principles unites diverse individuals into taking united action. Let’s find those principles that unite us to face the challenges of this point in history.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Big Energy Question: How Do We Make Cities Sustainable?

Big Energy Question: How Do We Make Cities Sustainable?: From better mass transit to a stronger mix of renewable energy, what is the most important thing we can do to make cities smarter when it comes to energy use?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Speical Counsel Named

by David McLaughlin and Andrew M Harri
Bloomberg Politics, May 17, 2017, 3 PM PDT

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is being named special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election, the Justice Department said.

The naming of Mueller, who oversaw the FBI during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, comes as the White House is reeling from President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey and allegations that Trump asked Comey in February to end his probe of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn

The FBI’s probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and potential links with Trump’s campaign has been overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year recused himself after it was revealed he had not disclosed conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Rosenstein made the decision to name Mueller, the Justice Department told reporters Wednesday. It isn’t clear if Trump had a role in the decision

Mueller, 72, served as FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and was the longest serving head of the bureau since J. Edgar Hoover. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, as the U.S. was ramping up security, he joined then-Deputy Attorney General Comey in threatening to resign if the White House overruled a Justice Department opinion that domestic wiretapping without a warrant was unconstitutional.

Before joining the FBI, Mueller served as a U.S. Attorney in San Francisco and held other positions in the Justice Department. Obama asked Mueller to stay in office two years beyond the normal 10-year term.

So, why a "special counsel," and not a special prosecutor?

According to an article in PBS, the 1977 law that created the role of the “special prosecutor,” placing few limitations on the length, cost or scope of independent investigations, expired in 1999. As a result, that option is effectively off the table, unless Congress reauthorizes the law or passes a new one. Neither scenario seems likely right now, with Republicans in control of Congress and Mr. Trump in the White House.

The decision to appoint a special counsel would normally be made by the Justice Department’s top official, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But Sessions recused himself in March from any DOJ probe involving Trump’s 2016 campaign. Sessions, who served as an adviser to the campaign, made the announcement after several news organizations reported that he failed in his confirmation hearings to disclose his meetings with a Russian official during the election.

A special counsel is an investigator with less freedom than a special prosecutor, and whose investigation could be curtailed or stopped altogether at any time by the Trump administration.

Mueller receives the authority of a U.S. attorney to carry out the investigation. But the rules give the Justice Department’s top official final say over the scope and jurisdiction of the inquiry, and the authority to remove the special counsel essentially at will.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Demand an Independent Investigation

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson's email (see below) urging us to sign his petition calling for a special prosecutor was distributed before the news that President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week. According to current and former U.S. officials, Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. So we can add that to our motivation for signing the petition.

But we must do more than that. First thing tomorrow call your Senators and your representative and demand a special prosecutor, or independent commission to launch a nonpartisan investigation. The next FBI head likely would not be seen as fairly pursuing the probe because he/she will have been directly appointed by Trump -- the man being investigated. Plus, they'd have to deal with the U.S. AG Jeff Sessions, who said he'd recuse himself from dealing with the FBI investigation, then had his deputy recommend firing Director Comey. Of course, Donald Trump said subsequently that he'd have fired Comey anyway, because of the Russia investigation, which was a hoax. You can't make this stuff up!

Call/Tweet Marie Cantwell: 202-224-3441, @SenatorCantwell
Call Patty Murray: 202-224-2621, @PattyMurray
Call Dan Newhouse, 202-225-5816, @RepNewhouse
(I know he's grieving, but you can convey the message to his staff)

Bob Ferguson's email follows:

Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is deeply troubling. Comey’s dismissal came just days after the FBI Director requested more resources for his independent criminal investigation into whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence our presidential election.

America’s institutions must be above partisan obstruction, and we deserve answers: Sign my petition for an independent special prosecutor to investigate the extent of Russian meddling – and any collusion by the Trump campaign.

I am calling for an independent special prosecutor, armed with full powers and resources, to ensure Americans are provided the truth, and any guilty parties are held accountable.
Are you as deeply troubled as I am?

If so, add your name right now to join my call for an independent special prosecutor to investigate.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Redress of Grievances

Will Crow, VP of Act Yakima and protest organizer
I drove to Yakima to join a dozen or so people holding an “Accountability Protest” in Yakima today. Act Yakima organized the protest.

We stood on the corner holding our handmade signs seeking a “redress of grievances." It was a diverse group. The man on my left was a Vietnam veteran. He worried for survival of the Republic. The man on my right had his two young nephews with him. Their tee shirts promoted equality. I commented on a woman’s artistic sign showing a blond-haired shark eating Lady Liberty. A woman next to her leaned in and pronounced proudly, “I’m 72 years old!”

The reaction of motorists was mixed, with some thumbs up, some thumbs down, and some displaying other digits. One beat-up Hummer slowed, the window rolled down, and a man yelled, “You lost! Get over it!”
The lack of awareness in this reaction to what I hope are continuing protests is startling and distressing. Those of us protesting Donald Trump are doing so not because “We lost,” but because we were conned. Mr. Trump took an oath to, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He is violating that oath. As a result, we all lose.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

White House Memo -- Is it a Joke?!

In order to restore the public confidence in the FBI, President Donald J. Trump accepted the recommendation of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and removed FBI Director James Comey from his position yesterday. It was a necessary move to reinstitute faith in America’s crown jewel of law enforcement after a series of high profile and political missteps. The search for new leadership that restores public trust and confidence in the FBI's vital law enforcement mission will begin immediately.


10:30AM: President Trump meets with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia
No, this is an actual White House memo emailed to me b/c I subscribe. Why? b/c you can't believe everything the "fake news" tells you, so you have to hear it from the horse's mouth (or another part of his anatomy).

Monday, May 8, 2017

End Debtors' Prisons

House Bill 1783 is about giving people a fair chance to get back on their feet once they get out of prison. Our current system prevents offenders from being able to get their lives back on the right track. The bill prioritizes restitution and establishes a more rational standard for determining ability to pay. Imposing intereston legal financial obligations (LFOs) was first thought to be an incentive for offenders topay, but instead it has been shown to be an impediment. The current 12 percent interest rate is onerous and makes the LFO debt skyrocket. This results in what amounts to a debtors' prison. H.B. 1783 would change this. The bill is currently in the State Senate as E2SHB 1783.

We want offenders to rebuild their lives once they are released from prison. There are many barriers to reentry, but LFOs are one of the hardest to overcome. Ask your state senator to support E2SHB 1783.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Happening Now!

To all Democrats in our local area:

Come join the Benton, Franklin, Tri City, and Young Democrats in a show of solidarity to show our town we are here!! We've got a lighted float for the Cinco De Mayo Parade this Friday. Meet us at 1st and Columbia in Pasco across from Mission Gospel no later than 6:30. Grab a bag of candy and come walk with your people. Kids and those who don't want to walk are welcome to sit on the float.
You can text or call Allison at 859-803-5905 or you can email her at alliedab25@gmail.com

This is the facebook event link:
We look forward to seeing you at the event!

Thank you for your continued support,

Chair 8th LD

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Republicans Determined to Pass AHCA, But Hurdles Grow

Michigan Representative Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), a respected moderate Republican lawmaker came out against the latest iteration of the GOP American Health Care Act (AHCA), throwing another hurdle in the way of Paul Ryan's all out push to get the measure passed. Upton said the AHCA in its latest iteration would undermine insurance protections the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the current law, gives people with pre-existing illnesses, a view disputed by supporters of the legislation.

The Detroit Free Press writes,

"Under Obama’s 2010 law, insurers may not charge seriously ill customers higher premiums than healthy ones. The latest revised GOP bill bars insurers from limiting access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. But states can obtain federal waivers letting insurers raise premiums on people with pre-existing illnesses, though only if the customer has let their coverage lapse during the previous year. The state must also have a high-risk pool or another mechanism to help such people afford a policy. Supporters of the GOP legislation say it protects people with pre-existing conditions and that the exclusion would affect only a small proportion of them. Opponents say it diminishes their protections by letting insurers charge unaffordable prices. They also say high-risk pools have a mixed record of effectiveness, often because the government money provided to finance them proves inadequate."

Speaker Ryan and other GOP House leaders are working with reluctant members to try pushing the AHCA measure through before the end of this week.

For 4th CD voters, Rep Dan Newhouse may be contacted via form email, or telephone ((202) 225-5816).

Please don't harangue Rep. Newhouse about his wife's illness. Just say your piece about why you oppose GOP efforts to repeal the ACA and replace it with an inferior measure.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Only Two Weeks Left

"Every echo system performs 'services' that maintain the conditions necessary for all life. Forests store and pump out vast quantities of water, thereby modulating weather and climate; they remove carbon dioxide from the air and generate oxygen by photosynthesis; they inhibit erosion; and they provide essential habitat to countless other species. Such 'echosystem services' are priceless: they keep the plenty healthy." (David Suzuki, The Legacy, 2010)

An article in "The Hill," points out that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking for all those dreaded "onerous and burdensome" regulations, especially Obama-era regulations, to repeal.
A regulatory reform task force, established by President Trump’s Feb. 24 Executive Order 13777, is seeking public input on which rules to roll back, the agency said Wednesday in the Federal Register.
The task force is also working with program heads inside the agency to identify rules that they believe impede job growth and impose more costs than benefits, according to The Hill. Republicans are, of course, speaking to the costs levied on their big business campaign donors, and the negligible benefits of preserving a livable planet.
The task force will take this information into consideration before it recommends to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt which rules to repeal. Pruitt, who denies CO2 has promoted global warming, blamed the Obama administration for “abusing the regulatory process to advance an ideological agenda.” Presumably, Obama's ideology was to prevent wholesale destruction of the biota.
“We are supporting the restoration of America’s economy through extensive reviews of the misaligned regulatory actions from the past administration,” Pruitt said in a statement.
“Moving forward, EPA will be listening to those directly impacted by regulations, and learning ways we can work together with our state and local partners, to ensure that we can provide clean air, land, and water to Americans,” he added.
Frankly, I don't believe that Denier Pruitt gives a hoot what you, the general public think about the regulatory rollback. And whatever regulations are left in place will be hard to enforce with a looming 31% cut to EPA funding. Nevertheless, if one doesn't comment, Scott Pruitt will sleep soundly thinking the public doesn't really care about what kind of shithole we leave to future generations.
So go to the EPA comment page here, read the memo containing the criteria for identifying "repealable" regulations, then click the "Comment Now" button in the upper right corner, and make your input. You have until May 15, 2017, to do so -- because Administrator Pruitt thought one month (he posted his memo April 13th) was plenty of time to allow the public to comment on his dismantling of environmental protections.

Two weeks from now.

Do it now!