Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fwd: What really happened in Olympia?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Aaron Ostrom, Fuse Washington" <>
Date: Jul 3, 2013 3:10 PM
Subject: What really happened in Olympia?
To: <>

Dear Friend,

It's over. After 153 days and two special sessions, the legislature has finally adjourned for the year. From blocking votes on the Dream Act and the Reproductive Parity Act to rejecting a plan to save transit service, Rodney Tom and the Senate Republicans had a one–word approach to progress this session: "No."

Fuse members lead a canvass in Sen. Rodney Tom's district for a progressive budget. Fuse members lead a canvass in Sen. Rodney Tom's district for a progressive budget.
Despite their best efforts, we did achieve some victories. Thanks in no small part to an amazing outpouring of grassroots support, the legislature closed two important tax loopholes and added greater accountability to the tax system.

But after six months of fighting a Senate now dominated by the far–right wing of the Republican caucus, there's one conclusion that's exceptionally clear: we must retake the Senate, starting this fall.

Here's a brief rundown of the last six months in Olympia and what we need to do now for progressive victories in 2014.

Close Tax Loopholes Canvass Fuse members put up "Close Tax Loopholes" yard signs in the neighborhoods of Sens. Andy Hill and Rodney Tom.
Tax loopholes: Legislators closed two major tax loopholes benefiting the estates of millionaires and large telecommunications companies, saving $245 million for education and essential services. In addition, the final budget includes stronger accountability and transparency measures for new or extended tax loopholes. Fuse members played a big part in achieving both of these victories, sending more than 40,000 messages to legislators this year. It's a staggering outpouring of grassroots pressure that made an impact on these negotiations.

The budget: Aside from closing those two loopholes, Senate Republicans stubbornly refused all new revenue options. As a result, the final budget is held together by a patchwork of one–time transfers, unsustainable gimmicks, and borrowing from construction funding. For instance, the budget devotes some new funding to education, but at the expense of cost–of–living raises for teachers and new school construction. In addition, the final budget created or extended 17 tax loopholes, costing Washington families $15 million.1 This includes a sales tax exemption for clay targets at gun clubs – Sen. Pam Roach's bill – and a tax exemption for mint farmers. This budget is better than the painful all–cuts approach of some previous years, yet it falls short of being sustainable or progressive.

Our Facebook graphic received more than 53,000 views. Our Facebook graphic received more than 53,000 views.
While Senate Republicans said "yes" to new loopholes, they said "no" again and again to important policy bills.

The Washington Dream Act: This legislation would give all students – regardless of citizenship – access to college financial aid.2 The House passed the Dream Act with overwhelming bipartisan support, but Senate Republicans refused to give it a vote.

Reproductive Parity Act: This legislation would ensure access to a full range of reproductive health care options, including abortion. It would ensure that Washington women have the freedom and privacy to make the health care decisions that are right for themselves and their families.3 The House passed the Reproductive Parity Act, but Senate Republicans refused to give it a vote.

Transportation and transit: The House worked for months to craft a wide–ranging transportation bill. While it wasn't perfect, it did include critical funding to prevent deep transit cuts and included light rail on the proposed Columbia River Crossing. The bill would have averted 17 percent cuts to King County's Metro system and supported the Columbia River bridge project. The House passed the transportation bill, but Senate Republicans refused to give it a vote.

Preventing gun violence: Parents, teachers, law enforcement officials, and faith leaders came together to support two bills to prevent gun violence in Washington. More than 5,000 Fuse members urged legislators to support a common sense background check bill for gun buyers. After a flurry of debate, this bill fell just three votes short in the House and never got a vote in the Senate. A second a bill would have required a person who is found to be a credible threat to their spouse or partner to surrender their weapons to police.4 The House passed this common–sense bill, but Senate Republicans refused to give it a vote.

We unveiled the official oil portrait of Rodney Tom, King of the Conservatives early in session. We unveiled the official oil portrait of Rodney Tom, King of the Conservatives early in session.
After 153 days, it's clearer than ever that the Senate is determined to obstruct progress at any cost. We must redouble our efforts not only to hold Tom and the Senate Republicans accountable during next year's session, but also lay the groundwork to retake the Senate. And that starts right now.

If you haven't been following the race, Democrat Nathan Schlicher was recently appointed to fill Congressman Derek Kilmer's old seat in the 26th Legislative District. He's running against far–right Representative Jan Angel, the Washington state chair of ALEC.5 Rep. Angel has been one of the most consistently conservative members of the state House. More importantly, this session showed how even a single Senate seat in the closely divided Legislature can make all the difference.

Rodney Tom and the Senate Republicans hold only a 25 to 24 conservative majority. If Sen. Schlicher loses, their far–right caucus will grow stronger and retaking the Senate will become much more difficult. We need to re–elect Sen. Schlicher so that we can go on offense in 2014.

Click below to join our team working to elect Sen. Schlicher and keep Jan Angel out of the Senate. We'll keep you updated about opportunities to make a difference in the 26th Senate race.

Thanks for all that you do,

Aaron and the entire team at Fuse

  5. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a shadowy right-wing group. It enables corporate lobbyists to draft legislation directly for conservative legislators at the expense of workers, consumers, and families. You can read more here:

Want to support our work? Become a monthly donor!

Follow FuseWashington on Facebook
Follow FuseWA on Twitter

Fuse is the state's largest progressive organization - people creating change online, on the ground, and on issues that matter.
Together for Progress
Join us at