Doug Ericksen’s Opening MovesPermalink +
Tue, Jan 15, 2013, 4:53 pm // Riley Sweeney
You can find Riley's regular postings on his site, The Political Junkie.
Hello Loyal Readers,
As promised, I'm going to be providing coverage of our representatives in Olympia this legislative session. Last year, I had a fantastic inside source who handled my Olympia beat but alas, he is no longer dictating blog posts in darkened parking garages, so you will have to rely on my not-quite-as-insider view.
The big story this year is the Republican takeover of the state Senate. I explained what happened here, but basically a couple Democratic turncoats decided to put the Republicans in charge of half our legislature. They still have to negotiate with a Democratic house and Democratic governor, but for the first time in many years they get to pass their legislative agenda . . . even if it dies before it hits the governor's desk.
For the last decade, Doug Ericksen has legislated from the minority. He was first elected into the Republican state house majority in 1998 but they quickly loss control of the body and by 2002, he was back in the minority. Which seemed to suit his rather flashy political style quite well. He could rail against "snobby Bellingham liberals" or cozy up to Glenn Beck's rather extreme think tank, but he would never have to actually get any laws passed since he was in the minority.
For example in the last two years, he was the primary sponsor for fifteen bills. Precisely one of those bills actually got signed into law and only after it had been heavily amended. What was this epic piece of legislation that took all of Ericksen's skill and prowess to get passed? Changing the maximum vehicle length on highways from 40 ft. to 42 ft. Yes. I'm serious. By comparison, when former Rep Kelli Linville (D) was in the minority, she was the primary sponsor for fifty bills and got eight of them signed into law. When former Sen. Dale Brandland (R) was in the minority in 2005-2006, he introduced eighteen bills and got six signed into law. So Ericksen has not been a particularly effective legislator so far.
But this year, in the majority, Ericksen finally has a chance to show us what he's got. He has decided to hit the ground running by sponsoring six bills. What are these ideas he has been holding on to for so long? Let's take a look:
SB 5003 - Transportation Projects. As far as ideas go, this one isn't too bad. Basically, if a city wants to fix a bridge, they sell some bonds to fund it. Those sales are taxed, so why should the construction of the bridge itself be taxed as well? It wouldn't be my top legislative priority, but encouraging investment in infrastructure isn't a bad idea. What else has he got?
SB 5004 - Restricting gubernatorial appointment. This is in response to last year's sneaky political move. After the state Senate's tense battle of marriage equality that came down to just a few votes, Gov. Gregoire decided to tip the scales by offering one of the popular moderate Republicans, Cheryl Pflug, a plum administrative job. She took the job, which created an open seat, which turned into one of the state's hottest races. When the dust had settled, Democrat Mark Mullet had won. This bill would prevent the governor from appointing a legislator to certain boards and commissions within thirty days of the election filing deadline. Absurdly specific? Yup.
A fun bit of trivia, Mullet's campaign was managed by former Dan Pike campaign manager Isabel Vanderslice, who has since returned to town to work for the Non-GMO Project. Pike was supported by many local environmentalists whose main goal has been to bring the county into compliance with the Growth Management Act. What was the plum administrative job that Cheryl Pflug took? A seat on the Growth Management Hearings Board. Did I just blow your mind? I think so.
SB 5032 - Rural electricity tax credits. This is a rather technically complex piece of legislation but the gist of it is that it extends tax credits to rural utility districts to continue making upgrades. The tax credits were going to expire, Ericksen is trying to keep them in place a few more years.
SB 5052 - More Superior court judges. This bi-partisan bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Ranker (D) and Ericksen, would increase the number of Whatcom County Superior Court judges. I know the Whatcom County judicial system has a serious case backlog and this seems to be an attempt to fix that.
Okay, at this point you are saying, "This isn't so bad. What's Riley so concerned about?" Believe me, the last two are worth the wait.
SB 5005 - Concerning Fiscal Relief. This bill would allow any city or county that is taking in less revenue than the previous year to raid earmarked funds coming in from the state. State money for hiring new police officers? Up for grabs. Funds coming in for women's reproductive health services? Let's take those first. This is a conservative politician's dream legislation. In one fell swoop, Ericksen can defund Planned Parenthood, environmental energy projects and social services on a state-wide level by giving local politicians the keys to the treasury. All these mayors or county executives would have to do is cut property taxes, and then say, "Look, we aren't taking in enough money to cover our general fund! Let's take these flood insurance dollars, I'm sure Ferndale will never miss them."
SB 5012 - Citizenship and Driver's Licenses. This one would require anyone obtaining or renewing their driver's license to prove their U.S. citizenship, and all that information would be immediately shared with immigration and any relevant social services. Right now, all you need to do to get a driver's license is prove residence, provide insurance and pass the test because we want to ensure that we keep track of all drivers on the road. This reactionary anti-immigrant bill would discourage undocumented workers from getting driver's licenses, leading to more unlicensed (and untraceable) drivers. Bad news my friends.
Well that is it so far. I will continue to follow these bills and the work of our other five representatives in Olympia over the next couple of months. Stay tuned!
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 12:59 pm // Terry WechslerA closer look at Whatcom County's industrial "stewards of the environment."
2 comments; last on Apr 22, 2014
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 10:43 am // Wendy HarrisThe public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.
Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 1:57 pm // Terry Wechsleror How Not to Plan for Future Generations' Water Needs
10 comments; last on Apr 21, 2014
Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 9:40 am // Riley SweeneyA simple explanation of the Charter Review and analysis of District only voting
Wed, Apr 09, 2014, 8:07 am // Riley SweeneyCity pushes for Alabama Street improvements, residents speak out
3 comments; last on Apr 14, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 3:29 pm // Guest writerBy Christopher Grannis: Wherein despite every effort and expense, citizens cannot make the City follow the law or work for neighborhoods
2 comments; last on Apr 07, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 11:52 am // Terry WechslerWhy commenting on the EIS for Comp Plan revisions for Cherry Point means demanding an EIS in the first place.
4 comments; last on Apr 13, 2014
Wed, Apr 02, 2014, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling University Development Group pulls out. University Ridge will not be built.
12 comments; last on Apr 06, 2014
Tue, Apr 01, 2014, 12:27 pm // Wendy HarrisPlease help us protect county wildlife by ensuring that the scope of the EIS review is adequate. A sample scoping letter is included.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 1:23 am // Wendy HarrisThe public has a week to comment on the scope of issues reviewed under the EIS.
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 12:32 am // Wendy HarrisOn March 26, 2014 the city and county provided their update and assessment on the status of Lake Whatcom. This is mine.
2 comments; last on Apr 01, 2014
Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 9:32 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into the county's plan to buy the county morgue
3 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 11:52 pm // Wendy HarrisThe public is not provided with a proposed plan or adequate information prior to the annual "state of the lake" meeting
4 comments; last on Mar 18, 2014
Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 12:11 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein there's a crackdown on growing plants, and plans to let slaughter run free
2 comments; last on Mar 16, 2014
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 9:47 am // John ServaisFukushima radiation has been found 20 miles from Whatcom County farmland along the Fraser River in British Columbia.
1 comments; last on Mar 17, 2014
Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 7:28 am // Dick ConoboyThe infamous American Legislative Exchange Council plans to send its spawn to cities and counties throughout the U.S.
1 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 10:24 am // Riley SweeneyRiley catches State Rep. Vincent Buys for soliciting funds during session
Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 9:51 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into an unusual hiring decision at the County Planning Dept
1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014
Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 2:22 pm // John ServaisThe editor of the Whatcom Watch, Richard Jehn, has resigned effective today. Chalk up a victory for Craig Cole and Pacific International Terminals.
8 comments; last on Mar 05, 2014
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 8:29 pm // John ServaisThe full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.
16 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 3:33 pm // Wendy HarrisWe were led to believe the city would review waterfront wildlife and habitat connectivity. It turns out that the city intends to focus only on nearshore fish.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 12:16 am // Wendy HarrisAccepting the Paul deArmond award of citizen journalism on Feb 7, Wendh Harris gave this speech. We think it deserves its own post.
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 4:48 pm // John ServaisCraig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.
6 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 7:26 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs through court data and discovers the real impact of privatization and legalization
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:35 pm // Wendy HarrisThe mayor wants to amend a city law to increase flexibility for a GMA provision that should be used rarely, if ever at all.
3 comments; last on Feb 11, 2014
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 2:36 pm // Wendy HarrisCostco imposes indirect costs on our community that are as real and tangible as road construction expenses.
1 comments; last on Feb 13, 2014
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:13 am // John ServaisThe old empty Reid Boiler Works industrial building in Fairhaven burned to the ground Saturday night.
Mon, Feb 03, 2014, 5:30 am // Dick ConoboyProfessional and even college sports have morphed into a circus of corporate greed and the fleecing of the public.
3 comments; last on Mar 01, 2014
Sat, Feb 01, 2014, 12:35 am // Wendy HarrisFiling a public record request could land a citizen in jail under a proposal reflected in a Herald opinion article.
2 comments; last on Feb 03, 2014
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 6:18 am // Guest writerTim Johnson writes about the first recipient of the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award, Whatcom County writer Wendy Harris.
3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2014
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 5:14 am // Dick ConoboyThe developers of University Ridge have been silent since shortly after the hearing examiner's decision on 23 October last year. Will they walk?
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 8:39 pm // John ServaisSuper Bowl ... Weed Bowl ... This bud's for you ... Bong Bowl ... Marijuana Bowl ... whatever. It is on!
1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2014
Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 2:19 pm // Guest writerDo we actually need to say that we, as citizens, want accurate information from government officials?
1 comments; last on Jan 14, 2014
Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 4:00 am // Guest writerGuest writer Barbara Perry writes about Bellingham Parks refusal to allow motorized wheel chairs to recharge at public electrical outlets.
6 comments; last on Jan 03, 2014
Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 3:56 pm // Wendy HarrisA Port of Bellingham internal memo tries, but fails, to justify changes in cost estimates for alternative marina sites.
5 comments; last on Dec 22, 2013
Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 12:21 am // Wendy HarrisArmy Corps advised DOE that it will not issue a waterfront permit without Lummi approval
2 comments; last on Jan 13, 2014
Mon, Dec 16, 2013, 12:30 pm // John ServaisFerndale Mayor Gary Jensen has decided not to file for the 42nd state Senate seat currently held by Doug Ericksen.
5 comments; last on Dec 24, 2013
Mon, Dec 09, 2013, 12:24 pm // Guest writerBarbara Perry writes about the closed nature of the Bellingham School Board on the future of the Larrabee School.
1 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 8:23 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the direct, indirect, hidden and lost opportunity costs make this a waterfront boondoggle of billions
3 comments; last on Dec 11, 2013
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:33 pm // Wendy HarrisLocal activist calls on Bellingham City Council to table the unpopular waterfront plans and engage in meaningful public process
2 comments; last on Dec 08, 2013
Fri, Dec 06, 2013, 11:03 pm // Wendy HarrisThe county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.
3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 11:58 am // John ServaisThe Political Junkie has posted a 3 minute video showing Bellingham City Council members explaining their idiocy for all of us to watch.
2 comments; last on Dec 06, 2013
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe post "riot" conversation is terribly lacking in several areas. We must expand the discussion or risk learning little from the experience.
3 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013
Wed, Dec 04, 2013, 10:53 am // John ServaisBellingham City Council and Port of Bellingham finalize the waterfront plan. In his weekly Gristle, Tim Johnson blasts the corrupt public process.
4 comments; last on Dec 05, 2013
Sat, Nov 30, 2013, 8:11 pm // Wendy HarrisThe waterfront plan allows a development bonus for payments made to the Lake Whatcom land acquisition fund
1 comments; last on Dec 01, 2013
Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 9:43 pm // Wendy HarrisA number of important issues need to be resolved before waterfront planning is complete, but the city council and port commission are ready to act.
2 comments; last on Nov 30, 2013
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 9:01 pm // Wendy HarrisIf the port can not construct the airport safely, should it be entrusted with dangerous waterfront cleanup work?
Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 5:03 am // Dick ConoboyThe advice coming from Walmart and McDonald's to its low paid employees becomes more and more bizarre and inane.
Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 5:35 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling's motion to the hearing examiner for reconsideration was definitively rejected. The developer has not met the deadline for an appeal to the Superior Court
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 2:18 pm // Guest writerIn which we find the hidden core of the waterfront plan is rotten through and through
7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 10:59 am // Riley SweeneyThe county takes two big steps forward on the new jail, while still missing the point
Thu, Nov 14, 2013, 1:39 am // Tip JohnsonDear Mr. President, There's a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.
7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013
Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 3:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city adminstration has been providing misleading/ incorrect information to the city council to avoid waterfront plan revisions.
1 comments; last on Nov 18, 2013
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 10:21 am // Riley SweeneyRiley crunches the numbers on Renata and McAuley's races to find answers
2 comments; last on Nov 13, 2013
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 5:16 am // Dick ConoboyPuget Neighborhood will likely have in the immediate future 1,300 new rental units that will be marketed primarily to the student population.
Sat, Nov 09, 2013, 9:47 pm // Wendy HarrisThe COB administration continues in its refusal to analyze waterfront wildlife issues, even though this is a prerequisite step in protecting wildlife from the impacts of development
3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2013
Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 8:21 pm // John ServaisWith lots of outside county money flowing in to our local races, this election is weird. But real - and we county residents have spoken.
11 comments; last on Nov 09, 2013
Mon, Nov 04, 2013, 9:55 am // Dick ConoboyThe call of the dollar speaks more loudly to health insurance companies than does the voice and well-being of the consumer, even here in Washington.
8 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 10:19 am // Dick ConoboyFour bedroom dorm rooms have been nixed by the hearing examiner. University Ridge may be in trouble as a cash cow for Ambling Development of Georgia
3 comments; last on Nov 04, 2013
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 10:19 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein we discover why we exert our rights - and grab some more petitions before it's too late
3 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013
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