Olympia: Targeting Bertha, annoying Tim Eyman
at 3:14pm by John Stang
Updated at 9:25 p.m. Two influential Senate Republicans introduced a bill to put the Bertha tunnel-boring machine out of its misery. Sen. Mike Baumgartner of Spokane and Sen. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale want to stop all spending on the tunnel work and launch an investigation of alternatives for the Highway 99 project, while directing the state to examine legal remedies for ending the tunneling contract. “We need to stop throwing money at a hole in the ground,” Baumgartner said in a statement late in the afternoon.In other Olympia news Monday:
- Twenty-two Washington House members have joined the Senate in trying to amend the state constitution to require any public initiative with major spending implications either identify a funding source or show that it won’t mess up the state budget over the next four years. Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, and 21 bipartisan co-sponsors from the entire left-to-right political spectrum introduced legislation to that effect on Monday. Last week, Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, and 37 Senate cosponsors introduced similar legislation. In a Monday email, professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman criticized the heavy Republican support for Fain’s bill in the Senate, saying the GOP senators “are squandering … good will by joining with Democrats in the most arrogant power grab in state history.”
- Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, introduced a bill Monday to require a study of the effects of predators — primarily gray wolves — on the state’s deer, elk and other wild ungulates. The study is also to consider the ripple effects on predators attacking domestic ungulates, such as cows, sheep, goats and horses. Her bill specifies that the study would have to meet the standards for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Washington State University has a wild ungulate research center.
- Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, introduced a bipartisan bill Monday to repeal the state’s death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole. Right now, Gov. Jay Inslee has a moratorium on implementing the death penalty for the duration of his stay in office. The cosponsors are Reps. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, and Chad Magendanz, R- Issaquah.
- Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle and Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, introduced companion versions of the Reproductive Parity Act in the House and in the Senate. The bills would require health plans that cover maternity care to cover abortions as well. This is the third time that these bills have gone into the Legislature, passing the House along party lines, and stalling in the Republican-controlled Senate. — J.S.