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The philosophical collision: Should the state or free market control the expansion of health care facilities?
One side says: Market research will prevent oversaturation, and competition will keep down patient costs. The other side says: Unchecked growth will overtax regulatory watchdogs with chances dramatically rising of Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
Meanwhile, a hearing is set for next Wednesday on a high-profile Benton bill to require parents to be notified if their daughter, 18 or younger, gets an abortion.
This will be a tricky matter for the Senate's majority allience. The group is really tight on budget stuff. But its solidarity has not been tested on social issues, in which Tom and a few Republicans are moderates instead of hardcore conservatives.
And a basic rule of parliamentary politics is for the majority not to let a bill reach the floor unless it knows the legislation has enough votes to win. It would take only one vote to swing to defeat any Republican social issues bill. On Wednesday, Tom declined to say how he would vote on Benton's bill.
And if the abortion-notification bill passes the committee stage — which is likely — "there's no guarantee it'll go to the floor," Schoesler said, declining to elaborate.The alliance controls the Senate Rules Committee, which controls if and when bills go to floor votes.
Sens. John "Wolfman Smack" Smith, R-Colville and Pam "Peacemaker Pam" Roach, R-Auburn, got hearings this week on their bills to set aside money to compensate ranchers and farmers for wolf-destroyed livestock; allow someone to shoot a wolf that is attacking livestock; and give county governments authority to order a wolf killed under certain circumstances.
In a state survey, 75 percent of Washingtonians support wolves returning to Washington, although that percentage drops significantly in rural areas. However, 66 percent supported farmers' and ranchers' rights to shoot wolves that kill livestock.
"Having this type of predator being reintroduced is devastating to our ranchers," said Ferry County Commissioner Brad Miller. Tyler Cox, a small rancher from Walla Walla, said, "We don't want to kill wolves. We want to sell calves."
Roger Chapanis, a Sammamish resident who testified at a hearing on the wolf bills, said: "On the surface, it sounds like good intentions. ... At night, I fear it will lead to killing anything that moves."
These bills follow a whip-it move by Rep. Joel "Lord of the Bling" Kretz, R-Wauconda, to transplant wolves from Eastern Washington to the Olympic Peninsula and any Puget Sound island bigger than 50 square miles, so the residents can enjoy the critters' presence.
The bill states that: "The legislature finds that the rich habitat created by the land stewardship of Washington's private landowners has created circumstances that allow the state to enjoy an expanding gray wolf population. Unfortunately, however, this bounty has been geographically limited to areas in eastern Washington and the entire citizenship of the state has not been fully able to enjoy the reestablishment of this majestic species."
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