Arts More on Arts Funding in Olympia (or, Hey Frank Chopp—Quit Bogarting My Bill!)
posted by March 7 at 14:23 PMon
Remember Old Number 6638, the arts-tax bill that funds 4Culture and, according to its lead sponsor, Sen. Ed Murray, “seventy-five percent of the small arts and heritage funds in King County”?
Well, lobbyists have been working on it for three years and, this year, it finally looked like it was going to achieve its apotheosis.
It sailed through the Senate floor, 44 to 5.
It sailed through the House Finance Committee, 7 to 2.
But Old Number 6638 has been stalled for days in the House Rules Committee—the committee run by Democrat and Speaker of the (Supermajority) Democratic House, Frank Chopp. I hate to pile on to our Dear Speaker (who’s getting it from all sides) but, you know, he’s bogarting our arts bill.
(You can also read Josh Feit’s feature, on how Chopp has been “blocking the democratic agenda,” here.)
So what gives? Why won’t Chopp let Old Number 6638 go to the floor to pass by the big, fat majority it’s had everywhere else?
Nobody wants to come out and say it—not senators, not, lobbyists, not people at 4Culture—because, as House Speaker and Rules chairman, Chopp holds the biggest weapons.
The dominant theory says Chopp wants to divert some of the tax revenue from arts to housing for the homelessness (his liberal-street-cred issue) and is willing to let Old Number 6638 die this year to try and squeeze out more money for his cause next year.
Sen. Murray is getting worried that the bill hasn’t yet been prized from Chopp’s committee onto the floor. “But it’s one of my two top-priority bills for this session,” he said. “That and domestic partnership.”
(Should you want to lean on Chopp to let the bill go the House floor, you can email his people at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)