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Friday, March 7, 2008

More on Arts Funding in Olympia (or, Hey Frank Chopp—Quit Bogarting My Bill!)

posted by on March 7 at 14:23 PM

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:

RSS icon Comments


You're on fire today, Kiley. I'm sending this to all my friends.

Posted by matthew e | March 7, 2008 4:00 PM

I've been trying to follow this bill and it seems like a no brainer. We need to continue to support the arts in our area. So Mr. Speaker, what do we art supporters have to do to get you to support SB 6638? Everyone I know is in favor. Why not you?

Posted by wallingfordgirl | March 7, 2008 4:50 PM

I can't believe one man would subvert the will of the Senate and his own House committees. Since when in a democracy can one person determine the fate of such a popular bill. All artists and arts advocates should be outraged. I always thought Frank was a good guy, a man of the people.

Posted by dumbfounded | March 7, 2008 5:05 PM

I thought they wanted to gut this to use it for more taxpayer bribes to the Sonics?

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 7, 2008 5:12 PM

Ed Murray is a rock star for supporting this bill. I understand wanting to house the homeless, but isn't that a separate issue? I for one think Frank Chopp should let the whole House decide. This isn't a solo performance is it? I really hope more than one person gets to call the shots down there.

Posted by rubytuesday | March 7, 2008 6:59 PM

You know "Will in Seattle" I think you are right. There won't be money for the arts or housing the homeless if the sonics are in the mix again. Don't let 'em have it Frank. Arts all the way!

Posted by R. Connelly | March 7, 2008 7:04 PM

I am so sick of Frank Chopp's crap.

Posted by Cale | March 7, 2008 8:18 PM

This can't be true. Frank Chopp wouldn'd hold anfrward. arts bill hostage to a housing bill, after three years of having the bill tied to a Sonics arena, wonuld he? If so, I'm done with Frank. If this bill doesn't move forward, I'm demanding a Frank recall.

I'm sending this Slog to everyone know, and I know a LOT of people!

Let's stop fooling around a get this done NOW!!

Posted by outraged | March 7, 2008 11:07 PM

Looks like I had some typoes in my post. Goes to show you how "outraged" I am. Or that it's late on a Friday night. What am I doing, Slogging on party night? I guess it's because I really care about this. Great post, Brendan. What can we do to pass this arts and heritage bill? I'll pass advice on to my active community of friends.

Posted by outraged | March 7, 2008 11:21 PM

I'm with you, "outraged." Let's stop this crap. RECALL!

I didn't care about the typos. I got your message and I totally agree.

Posted by CITIZEN | March 7, 2008 11:43 PM

no grounds for recall - differing opinions are no basis

don't vote for him next time - but I bet you are not in his district

they love him in the 43rd, power galore

if the economy tanks, the list of cuts will be long and painful, spending in the red is not possible in Washington State, ie. the Constitution prohibits it

Posted by John | March 8, 2008 2:04 AM

I live in the 43rd, and Frank's been great, but I want my arts funding!!! The amazing arts community is THE reason that I've lived in Seattle (and district 43) for so long, and I want it supported. So come on Frank, play fair!

Posted by ArtRocks | March 8, 2008 7:50 AM

c'mon Frank, be the man - this is a democracy and the people are speaking. Keep Arts and Heritage going. There's enough money for both SB6638 AND housing the homeless, the issues are separate.

Posted by KeepItGoing | March 8, 2008 9:33 AM

So the arts are on Frank's Chopping block. What did the arts ever do to him besides make his community a better place to live?

The Senate voted for the arts bill and three House Committees voted for it. Does one man really have that much power in Olympia?

Apparently so. So sad. Tell us why Frank.

Posted by all chopped up | March 8, 2008 1:10 PM

I live in Frank's district and he is so busy keeping donors to the democratic caucus happy that he is no longer representing his constituents!

Posted by Katherine | March 8, 2008 5:23 PM

Your constituency is telling you they want the arts bill Mr. Speaker - does that matter anymore? Send 6638 to the floor!

Posted by Constituent | March 8, 2008 5:28 PM

Why shouldn't all the Representatives get a shot at expressing their opinions on 6638? Since when did they give one man the opportunity to decide for them? Come on, Frank. It shouldn't be your call alone. Get it to the floor, NOW!

Posted by speaker for the arts | March 8, 2008 8:36 PM

I don't live in Washington, but visit often (ahem...I pay hotel taxes) to hang out with friends and experience ART. It is one of the reasons I bother to make the trip. I hope you all can get it together to fund the very thing that makes your community worth visiting and so much better than my own.

Posted by sunshine state | March 9, 2008 2:09 PM

It's not just lobbyists who have been working on this for three years - hundreds of citizens have made the trek Olympia to testify in support of this bill, and now it gets stuck in back room negotiations? With all due respect, Speaker Chopp, it is unjust to tie arts funding to unpopular legislation whether that legislation is a Sonics arena or housing for the homeless. "The ends do not justify the means." The allocation of the remainder of the hotel motel tax can be determined in another session, but funding for the arts should be restored immediately. Please respect the voice of the people whom you represent, and the voices of your colleagues who support 6638.

Posted by do it now | March 10, 2008 10:54 AM

I'm shocked that this hasn't reached the house floor yet. It seems like a no brainer. Speaker Chopp, please send this to the house floor so it can be voted on, and stop wasting our time. The livelihood of too many individuals and the arts community depend on it!

Posted by art lover | March 10, 2008 2:30 PM

Senator Chopp! I implore you to do what's right! Support 6638 and stand proud! Seattle has been a leader in supporting the arts for decades and other cities have looked to us as a model! Don't drop the ball! We need you to bring the bill to the floor now. Do the right thing and your constituency will thank you for it!

Posted by artmama | March 10, 2008 9:05 PM

Senator Chopp-

It's simple... support 6658. Why be the stumbling block for something so important to the community? Please do the right thing.

Posted by lpjordan | March 11, 2008 10:48 AM

Senator Chopp-

I mistyped the number of the bill in my last posting.... it's 6638. Please support it now!

Posted by lpjordan | March 11, 2008 10:52 AM

Cultural tourism is among the fastest growing sectors of King County's economy, so it makes sense to fund arts from the hotel/motel tax. 6638 should be kept intact.

Posted by arts intact | March 12, 2008 9:21 AM

Dear Senator Chopp, please support bill 6638. It is a very important issue for the community at large. We need your help.

Posted by Dorothy Rissman | March 12, 2008 12:55 PM

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