Friday, March 09, 2007

Legis-loonies Report

Yesterday we held another conference call with some of the Washington State Republican legislators from the House of Representatives. the current hot topic in the news is the parole release of dangerous felons into our communities, and the department of Correction's failure to monitor these felons. When parole violations occur, these felons are not being arrested and put back into prison. Instead, the DOC is more or less ignoring the parole violations, and letting the felons remain on the outside. Their excuse is that there just isn't enough prison space to re-incarcerate them!

Every time the Republicans have put forth a bill to build more prisons, the Democrats block it. Our "Not Really " Governor even ordered the DOC to stop even considering building more prisons, or even working out plans and costs to do so! "we can't afford to build any more prisons." they bleat, yet we have over two billion dollars of surplus money in the state treasury, even beyond the 1.7 billion surplus put into a rainy day emergency fund.

A house bill was proposed to stop all felon releases until the DOC solves the problem and makes changes to their procedures to keep track of these felons. The bill was blocked from even getting out of committee by the Democrats. Since the bill never got out of committee, a motion was made on the floor of the House to bring the bill to the floor for a straight up or down vote. This bill was also blocked by a straight party line vote, excvept for three Democrats who voted to bring the bill to the floor. The next morning all three of the Democrats issued statements that their votes should have been against the bill coming to the floor, now that they had thought about it over night. That seems to happen a lot to the Democrats......

Another bill discussed was SB5197, the "Gun Show Loophole" bill. Last week we reported that, at least in the opinion of Senator Jim Clements (R), the bill was a dead issue, and would never see the light of day. It now appears that may not be the case. It sounds like there is some serious Democratic in-fighting going on over SB5197. One faction, composed of the Governor and the "Big City Democrats" are pushing really hard to ram this terrible bill through the legislature.

All of the Republicans, and a lot of the Rural Democrats see this bill as a bad bill, and are solidly against it. If this bill comes out of the rules committee and goes to the floor for a vote, it could get really ugly, particularly for the more conservative rural Democrats. They would be in a lose-lose position, where if they vote for the bill, their constituents are going to be really unhappy, and may not re-elect them come next election. If they vote to oppose the bill as their constituents would prefer, they will tick off the Governor and her folks, not a good thing if you want to get any help in the future from the Governor. Sure glad I'M not in that position!

That's the high (low?) points for this week ,and I'll keep you posted as things develop.........



At Thursday, March 15, 2007 9:22:00 PM, Blogger Goldwater's Ghost said...

I realize this comment is a bit late, but it would seem to me that at least some constituencies within the Dem coalition should favor building more prison. Especially the Union part-since Corrections Officers are the most hard-core unionized segment of state employees, with the possible exception of the teachers. Shouldn't the union bosses thus want more prisons, which would employ more union COs (and probalby be built by union construction workers on top of it?)

There are two downsides to more prisons that I can see, from the Dem point of view: first, that every dollar spent on prisons is one less dollar to spend on turing Washington into their own little Evergreen People's Republic.

And second, if those felons are back in prison, they can't vote for Gregoire in 2008.


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