Politics & Government

Under the Dome for Jan. 27

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, Jan. 27, the 17th day of the 60-day legislative session.

TODAY

Groups at the Capitol today include:

 • About 800 physical therapists will hold massage-awareness day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the north third floor of the Legislative Building. A key issue for the Physical Therapy Association of Washington is winning the right to perform spinal manipulation on patients, which all but two states allow, the association said.

PREGNANCY-CENTER HEARING AT 8 A.M. TODAY

The two sides of the abortion-rights debate likely will clash over the work of crisis pregnancy centers this morning at the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee. It meets in Cherberg Senate hearing Room 4.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights supporters want controls on so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel pregnant women but do not offer abortion services or medical care. Senate Bill 6452 (and companion measure House Bill 2837) would require centers to immediately disclose to clients that they do not provide abortion services or medical care for pregnant women, including posting it in writing at the facility entrance.

But Paula Cullen of Pregnancy Support Medical Clinics said it amounts to a “gag order.” Cullen contended in a statement that the measures would regulate pregnancy centers out of existence and eliminate $15 million a year in free services for women with unplanned pregnancies.

Other hearings today:

 • At 8 a.m., the House Finance Committee hears a proposal, House Bill 2912, giving King County authority for deciding what to do with tourism tax revenues that the University of Washington wants to tap for a Husky Stadium renovation.

 • At 1:30 p.m., the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee hears a bill (House Bill 2660) that emerged from the Lakewood police slayings concerning the rendering of criminal assistance.

 • At 3:30 p.m., the House Transportation Committee hears House Bill 2780, limiting the use of automated traffic-safety cameras and capping fines at $25.

DOUBLE-OFFICE HOLDERS

The last of the bills that might keep Sen. Tim Sheldon or Olympia City Councilman Joe Hyer from serving simultaneously in two elected positions has died.

Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, said he pulled House Joint Resolution 4219, which is a constitutional amendment, and House Bill 2800 from the House State Government Committee calendar for Friday afternoon. After Senate leaders said they do not intend to move a similar bill in that chamber, Hunt said there was no point in using committee time on something that didn’t stand a chance of passage.

Rep. Brendan Williams, the Olympia Democrat who co-sponsored HB 2800 with Poulsbo Rep. Sherry Appleton, said he agreed with Hunt’s reasoning. But Williams said he still objects to what he called “double-dipping” by politicians holding multiple seats.

Sheldon, a Democrat in the Senate, serves as Mason County commissioner as an independent, and the double-seat question was an issue in his last campaign. Hyer won re-election to the council in November and Monday night became Thurston County Democrats’ top nominee for appointment to fill the vacancy of soon-to-resign Treasurer Robin Hunt.

Hyer has said he hasn’t decided how long he would keep both posts, but he wants to see how it goes in both jobs before deciding. He also plans to ask voters what they think.

NOTEWORTHY

A bill moving the state employees’ Combined Fund Drive to the Office of the Secretary of State won quick passage after a hearing in the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee on Tuesday.

The move is one of many shifts proposed this year as part of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s reorganization plan that aligns numerous state agency functions with different agencies.

Senate Bill 6540 moves the yearly fundraising campaign from the Department of Personnel, and Secretary of State Sam Reed testified in favor of the measure.

“This fits right into our mission,” Reed said. His office administers the program requiring charities to register, and fund drive leaders also like the move.

A companion measure, House Bill 2902, also would move the fund drive to Reed’s agency. It won similar accolades and no criticism in the House General Government Appropriations Committee earlier in the day.

The fund drive raised $5.88 million statewide from state employees in 2009 for local and international charities.

DANGEROUS FIELD TRIPS

The disappearance of a criminally insane patient at a field trip to a fair affixed the national spotlight on Spokane County last September. Now Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, is sponsoring a bill that would ban outings for people who have been committed to state facilities for the purpose of determining their competency, restoring their competency or after being found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Exceptions would be made for patients whose immediate family members are ill, if a funeral is being held for a family member, if special medical or legal proceedings are needed, or if permitted by court.

Compiled by Brad Shannon, Maks Goldensteyn and Jordan Schrader, staff writers

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