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Friday, February 22, 2008

Oly Action: Gov. Gregoire vs. House Speaker Chopp on Climate Change.

posted by on February 22 at 16:54 PM

I couldn’t be down in Oly on Tuesday to report on the big cutoff day for sending bills over to the other chamber. It turns out I missed a real bruiser between Gov. Christine Gregoire and House Speaker Frank Chopp.

I haven’t seen details of it reported elsewhere, so voila:

The big climate change bill, which Gregoire introduced on the first day of the session, still hadn’t come to a House floor vote as the clock was ticking down on Tuesday.

House Speaker Chopp wanted to amend the governor’s bill so that key language giving the Dept. of Ecology rule-making authority was amended to grant the legislature the authority instead.

The changes Chopp wanted would have actually rolled back authority that Ecology already has.

(I had asked Gregoire about this very issue in my interview with her the day before, and she said she wanted the legislature to have the authority to approve the cap and trade plan that the bill authorizes Ecology to design. However, that’s far different from giving the legislature authority to micromanage Ecology’s rule-making authority.)

So, as the story goes, Gregoire set Chopp straight. Gregoire marched into Chopp’s office around 3:30 on Tuesday, kicked out all the extra aides, and told him he had to run the bill and not amend it to usurp Ecology’s authority.

And that’s exactly what happened … although not before Chopp talked one freshman Rep., Troy Kelley (D-28, W. Tacoma), into voting against the bill later in the evening when the bill finally passed. It was the last bill to come to a vote in the House on deadline day.

Kelley says Chopp talked to him, but recalls that it was about a different bill—a bill dealing with military bases that Kelley was trying to get a vote on. He says he voted against the bill because he needed a fuller understanding of it and he needed to evaluate it from “my district’s perspective, which may be a little different from the being in line with the rest of the caucus.”

The bill passed by a big margin, so Rep. Kelley’s vote wasn’t key, but Chopp reportedly convinced Kelley that he was in enough of a swing district that a vote against powerful antagonists of the bill, like the Building Industry Association of Washington, could jeopardize Kelley’s reelection.

The bill passed 64-31.

Although, there is some annoying news about the bill: One aspect was amended from the initial version. The timber industry wants to get an offset credit to count against the carbon emissions cap because trees trap carbon (not so, says Grist!)—and language was added into the bill to give them the offset.

I had asked Gov. Gregoire about this issue on Monday as well.

Me: Weyerhaeuser wants credit in any cap-and-trade system for the carbon offset of growing trees.

Gov. Gregoire: I’m not going to do that today. That’s part of the process. I don’t want to get involved in a bill that decides who’s bad and who’s good. That’s premature.

Looks like she won one and lost one.

RSS icon Comments


Too bad she can resurrect bills.


Posted by Will in Seattle | February 22, 2008 5:12 PM

WHAT? Since when does the timber industry get environmental brownie points for chopping down trees? Sure, they may plant some (it's a crop after all) - but it's not like the trees weren't there before the industry was.

Posted by David | February 22, 2008 5:36 PM

short sessions are like the wrong time for most any legislation

and the legislature seems caught up in trivia

what a bunch of do nothings - maybe they reflect our expectations as voters

Posted by John | February 23, 2008 9:12 AM

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