The news as we approach the end of the Legislative Session in Olympia is both good and bad.
The good news is that Rep. Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney was able to get a very important bill passed to keep the housing assistance going to the homeless and to those in the most need of help by their government. This effort is something we can all be thankful for, and Phyllis deserves the credit.
Rep. Gutiérrez Kenney has also announced that this will be her last session in Olympia. She was first appointed in 1997 to fill the House vacancy left by Senator Ken Jacobsen when he moved from the House to the Senate. Over the last 15 years she has been a champion for our values and our platform, but her activism didn’t start then. It goes farther back than most realize. The online version of this article has links to several sources on the web for her history, and it’s a very rich history full of caring for her family, her friends and her community. We’re all grateful for the time that she has spent using her experience for the betterment of everyone in Washington State.
- Historylink.org: Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney (b. 1936)
- Historylink.org: Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney is appointed to the Washington State House of Representatives on January 5, 1997
- Ballotpedia: Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney
The bad news out of Olympia started on Friday, March 2nd. After working hard all session to find compromises and agreements with both political parties, Senate Democrats found themselves betrayed by three of their own, who used their votes to push through a State Budget that does not reflect the hopes or dreams of the people of Washington. Instead, it guts our most important programs. Engrossed Senate Bill 5967 was replaced by a “striker” amendment, basically a Frankenstein replacement bill, which the Senate Democrats fought to defeat for most of the session on Friday night until it was finally adopted by a vote of 25 to 24. Now it’s up to the conference committee to try and repair the damage.
The Senators who used their votes to empower the Republican Party and the conservative movement this past Friday are: Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48), who is running for reelection in 2014; Sen. Jim Kastama (D-25), who is running for Secretary of State in 2012; and Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-35), who is also running for reelection in 2014. We also need to be aware that our own Senator David Frockt led the charge on amendment after amendment to the final budget bill to try and restore the cuts to things like education and family planning. He managed to get the only amendment that passed through, one restoring $500,000 to the Leadership 1000 college scholarship program. Bravo!!
Now both the House and the Senate need our voices to be heard in support of our values, and we need to get busy preparing for the 2012 (and 2014) elections to make sure this never happens again.
Our March meeting will move quickly with some presentations about our new district that have been delayed for a while, and an important discussion on Local Issues for our 2012 Platform. I hope to see you there! And a last note, our April meeting will be at a new location. Watch for it!
Chair, 46th District Democrats