Homeless bill furor has Republican senator looking to Inslee for help

Sen. Jan Angel, who blocked a bill to help the homeless, is now asking the governor to set up a task force to look for solutions.
Sen. Jan Angel

Sen. Jan Angel

As anger grew Thursday over the impending phase-out of a fee that provides shelter for the homeless, embattled Sen. Jan. Angel, R-Port Orchard, asked Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to set up a task force on the issue.

Angel recently blocked a bill to save the $40 fee on home-sale documents, provoking outrage among social service advocates, many Democrats and even some of the most conservative members of her own party. Angel, co-chair of the Senate Financial Institutions Committee, abruptly closed a meeting where other members hoped to act on the bill. 

The money from the fee is used to help low-income people with rent in both public and private housing. Testimony in favor of the bill, which has backing from an array of nonprofit and public groups, indicated it is the No. 1 source of funds to prevent people from slipping into homelessness. Opponents, which include real-estate groups, say a fee on housing transactions isn't an appropriate way to raise the money and they complained about the state Department of Commerce's handling of obligations to report on the use of the money. Adding political intrigue, The Stranger has linked Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, to Angel's blocking of the bill; he acknowledged telling her about his opposition to the bill but denied having told her what to do. 

Before Angel asked for a task force, a bipartisan group of legislators held a press conference Thursday to urge that the fee be kept, which was the point of the blocked bill. One of Angel's most conservative Republican colleagues, Sen. Don Benton, joined in the press conference.

Calling for action, Rep. Maureen Walsh, a moderate Republican from Walla Walla, said, "We've got folks living in cars. We've got  kids couch surfing all over the place." 

A press release issued late Thursday by Angel's office complained that her decision to cut off the committee vote "has caused a flurry of controversy and inaccurate accusations, despite her good intentions."

“I was half an inch away from being homeless myself, so this issue is extremely important to me, despite what others are so quick to assume. People need to understand all of the facts surrounding an issue before they point fingers,” she said in the press release. Her concerns, she said, are "a lack of supporting data and reporting from the state Department of Commerce, strong discord among involved stakeholders, and the fact that the surcharge tax falls on the backs of one small and unpredictable sector."

In a letter, she asked Inslee for create a task force to examine the issue. 

It's not at all clear that Inslee will see the need for a new study. Earlier Thursday, he told reporters: "It shouldn't be hard to save funding for the state's homeless."

John Stang covers state government for Crosscut. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Mar 7, 6:05 a.m. Inappropriate

Word on the street in my neck of the woods says that this bill block order from Rodney Tom is partial payback to Don Benton for his recent email tirade against House Repubs and more.

Don Benton, incredibly, was a champion of this Homeless bill in a rare bipartisan show. I'll take it, no matter what his motivation is.

Pam Roach and Benton have been siding with the Dems lately, too, in the Senate. Again: a slap upside the head to their Majority Coalition Caucus colleagues?

I can't keep up with these rascals, but truly am disappointed that some of our most vulnerable citizens get caught in these political games crosshairs.

gaia

Posted Fri, Mar 7, 8:24 a.m. Inappropriate

Angel's office complained that her decision to cut off the committee vote "has caused a flurry of controversy and inaccurate accusations, despite her good intentions."

Perhaps Sen. Angel should clarify exactly what her "good intention" was? Who did she think she was helping by killing this bill?

Posted Fri, Mar 7, 12:04 p.m. Inappropriate

As a home owner that would like to sell my house in the future I would like to have a public airing of who handles the money and how it is dispersed, including what percentage actually gets down to a homeless person. Washington likes to hide taxes rather than working out of the general fund. Lets air it out and if it still looks good then no problem.

2wheeler

Posted Sat, Mar 8, 8:53 p.m. Inappropriate

2wheeler, if you hit the highlighted "testimony" in the article, you will be able to actually read what it provides. However, you could have done research on that at any time in the last 9 years.

If you want to change how our state apportions its budget into various categories, you're certainly free to work together with others to do so.

sarah90

Posted Mon, Mar 10, 11:18 a.m. Inappropriate

If Jan Angel thought the $40 fee was a problem, wouldn't it have been prudent to ask for the task-force study BEFORE deciding to whack the homeless funding source?

Other current news accounts report Wall Street entities' massive gold-rush into urban single-family real estate. So at least Sen. Angel's action should save hedge funds and banksters a few bucks.

Skidmark

Posted Mon, Mar 10, 3:54 p.m. Inappropriate

@Skidmark "Other current news accounts report Wall Street entities' massive gold-rush into urban single-family real estate. So at least Sen. Angel's action should save hedge funds and banksters a few bucks."

And, there you have it in a nutshell. The Republicans have thrown the poor and homeless under the bus for the benefit of their fiscal masters, the real estate industry and bankers.

elbowman

Posted Mon, Mar 10, 3:58 p.m. Inappropriate

Oh! And, I forgot to say, Thanks Jan! We really appreciate your putting the homeless back on the street. We couldn't have made our quarterly sales targets without you!

Sincerely,
Mr. Moneybags

elbowman

Posted Mon, Mar 10, 3:59 p.m. Inappropriate

Oh! And, I forgot to say, Thanks Jan! We really appreciate your putting the homeless back on the street. We couldn't have made our quarterly sales targets without you!

Sincerely,
Mr. Moneybags

elbowman

Posted Mon, Mar 10, 8:49 p.m. Inappropriate

Suggest a task force? That's like telling your kids there are fifty pennies in the backyard and that once they find them they'll get ice cream, when you only tossed out 49. Jan Angel isn't bright enough to have cooked up this douche move on her own. No, this has ALEC or Rodney written all over it.

Gudrun

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