Sunday, October 18, 2015

Political Desk: State Legislature, State Judiciary

There's nothing much for the Washington State Legislature and our State Judiciary this year. There's a seat in District 30, which does not include Grubb Street, and a Court of Appeals judge running unopposed, so that's about it for the State Reps and the Judges.

Except it HAS been a very interesting year for them. Our state Senate has been in the hands of the Republicans, which as, unlike those in other states, has shown an interest in actually governing. I know, my lefty heart demands I treat the GOP as opponents and the Dems as inconstant allies, but the legislature has actually worked on making progress. As noted under the referendum section, they have raised taxes (gasp!) to fund transportation, and helped close a loophole on Microsoft in order to help education. PLUS have reduced tuition at state-run colleges. This is not small change. The press likes to evoke the name of former governor Dan Evans as a descriptor for reasonable Republicans which is a pity, since it reminds everyone that the last time anyone in the state really trusted the GOP was during the Carter Administration. This is new, and this is good.

But, by the same token, Olympia has come up short on a biggie, which demonstrates a lot of the forces in play in our state. The people, through the initiative process.passed a law demanding that the legislature fund K-12 education in full. Education is a big thing out here - it is in our constitution. The legislature did not act immediately (like, over a couple years), and was found in contempt by the State Supreme Court (who takes the constitution pretty seriously). They made a stab at it this year, but still have come up short, such that the Supreme Court is now fining the legislature $100,000 a day for non-compliance. So far this has not been enough to drive the legislators back to Olympia (being a legislator IS a part-time job out here), but it has prompted a show-down between two of our branches.

Add to that the fact the the Supremes have also pulled state funding of Charter Schools because they are not overseen by local communities. Which makes sense, as charters have had a mixed success out here, ranging from OK to sudden and mysterious disappearances in the dead of night without anybody watching them. So our court system has waded in on our educational system, which, as far as I can tell, is part of their job.

Now, as noted at the top of this entry, neither the legislature nor the judiciary is up for major elections. This will not be true, so look forward to a year of fireworks building up to NEXT year's elections.

This should be interesting. More later,