Update 5:35 p.m.: Democratic senators say the Majority Coalition Caucus blocked the effort to bring about votes on the DREAM Act and Reproductive Parity Act. John Stang is preparing a full report.
A move is underway to put the stalled DREAM Act and Reproductive Parity Act to a full Washington Senate vote today or Wednesday.
Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said Monday that he is working on using the so-called "Ninth Order” to put the bills to a full Senate vote, in which they are believed to have enough votes to pass. The Ninth Order is a legislative parliamentary procedure in which 25 of the 49 senators agree to take a bill that died in committee and revive it on the floor of the full Senate. Wednesday is the last day that this maneuver can be used for these two bills.
Several days ago, Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina and leader for the 25-member Majority Coalition Caucus, opposed the use of the rarely invoked Ninth Order because Tom contended such a move would unleash numerous extra bills on the Senate floor. However, Tom, Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, and former Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, participated in that same move in 2012 to put a Republican-oriented budget on the Senate floor and pass it.
The House passed both bills, but they never got out of the appropriate Senate committees because two conservative chairwomen — Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, and Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville — opposed the legislation and have the power to keep bills from leaving their committees.
With 24 minority Democrats supporting both bills, all they need is one senator to cross from the Majority Coalition Caucus to bring those bills to a full floor vote and pass them. Enough Republicans are believed to be supporters of the two bills that this scenario appears possible.
The DREAM Act provides possible financial aid to children of undocumented immigrants who graduate from state high schools and want to apply to college. The Reproductive Parity Act would order insurance companies who provide maternity-related insurance to also cover abortions.
The House passed the bill — introduced by Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger — by a 77-20 vote, with about half of that chamber's Republicans supporting it. The arguments supporting the bill are that the kids have lived in Washington for long periods and have done well in school, so helping them would be an economic boost to both financially hampered students and the state. Senate Education Committee chairwoman Bailey opposed it, saying the state did not have enough money to cover the extra potential college students.
Meanwhile, the Reproductive Parity Act, introduced by Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, would require insurance companies providing maternity-related insurance to also provide abortion coverage. Right now, all major insurance companies in Washington do so. The bill's backers want to legally nail down this arrangement in case future insurance companies move into the state and don't offer both. The House passed the bill 53-43 along mostly party lines.
For exclusive coverage of the state Legislature, check out Crosscut's Olympia 2013 page.