News The Democratic Agenda Pt. 2
posted by February 28 at 14:05 PMon
Earlier today, I Slogged about how the Democrats at the national level have their shit together.
Now, onto the Democrats in Olympia. I’m not saying they’re losers, but this morning’s action neatly sums up this session’s mixed record and confused agenda.
Three Committee Meetings.
1. Democrats Join with GOP to Kill Environmental Bill
At an 8:00 a.m. meeting of the house Local Government Committee, a great environmental bill that passed out of the senate 31-18 two weeks ago (the bill added climate change impacts into growth management standards so that development projects had to be environmentally responsible) got torpedoed by conservative Democrat Representative Deborah Eddy (D-48, Eastside Seattle suburbs).
At this morning’s committee meeting Eddy offered an amendment that—hugs and kisses BIAW—not only scrapped the idea of making climate change a standard in growth management guidelines, but went further to make sure it wouldn’t be possible in the future.
Committee chair, and the bill’s house sponsor, liberal Representative Geoff Simpson (D-47, Covington, Kiss Song), rejected Eddy’s amendment as “out of scope”—the bill’s title is “Addressing the impacts of climate change through the growth management act” and Simpson rightly argued that Eddy’s striker amendment did the opposite.
Then Simpson called for a vote on the bill itself. It lost 5-2 with two Democrats, including Eddy and Representative Dean Takko (D-19, South Bend) voting with the committee’s three Republicans against the bill and Simpson and rookie-of-the-year Representative Sharon Nelson (D-34, Vashon Island) voting for it.
2. Democrats Stand by Their Housing Agenda
While they’re botching it on the environment, the Democrats continue to make good on their mission this session to deal with the housing and related mortgage broker crisis. Senators Brian Weinstein and Rodney Tom had sent two bills over to the house that would govern mortgage brokers to ensure the brokers weren’t duping housebuyers into bad loans.
The bills landed in the house consumer protection committee, and this morning, after a scare that the language would be watered down to simply say brokers must work “in good faith” for the borrower, committee chair Representative Steve Kirby (D-29, Tacoma) added tougher legal language—“must act in the borrower’s best interest”—into the bill.
It’s curious, though, that Senator Tom’s bill explicitly dealing with hidden kickbacks that brokers may get, was dropped. However, the house did write language into the bill that addressed Tom’s intent: “A mortgage broker must disclose to the borrower all material facts… that might… affect the borrower’s interests….” Lefty housing advocates seemed happy with that.
3. Democrats Continue to Push “Tough-on-Crime” Agenda
There wasn’t a vote, but there was a hearing in the senate Committee on Human Services and Corrections this morning on this creepy bill that expands the state’s ability to collect DNA from people convicted of misdemeanors like assault in the fourth degree, prostitution, and animal cruelty. Proponents of the bill, like prosecutors, argue that people who commit misdemeanors go on to commit more serious crimes so it makes sense to have them… on file. (Is that the right way to describe it?)
Mark Prothero, a private attorney from Kent who testified against the bill on behalf of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said the bill “edged into the realm of Big Brother.”
At least one senator, Senator James Hargrove (D-24, Clallam Bay, Hoquiam), agreed, saying we might as well implant chips in people when they’re born. Senator Hargrove was responding to testimony supporting the bill from prosecuting attorneys who said it made sense to collect DNA from prostitutes because prostitutes often end up as murder victims—and their DNA samples could help crack those cases. In addition to how weird, repellent, sexist, and discriminatory the prosecutors’ line of argument is, it also doesn’t make too much sense: You can get a DNA sample from a murder victim once they’re a murder victim and track the killer at that point.
The senate version of the DNA bill is likely to be less creepy than the house bill (the senate only wants to include assault in the fourth degree when it involves sexual assault) but it’s worth keeping an eye on as the compromise bill emerges.