Politics & Government

GOP apologizes: Story on Chopp not true

Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt fumed yesterday over his belief that the House speaker had time for breakfast with Washington State Labor Council president Jeff Johnson, but not to negotiate with the Senate about worker compensation reform.

The rumored breakfast with Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, is not so, the labor council reported this morning in its daily round-up of news at The Stand:

The Stand was able to reach WSLC President Jeff Johnson this morning, who said, “I’ve never had breakfast with Speaker Chopp in my life. But I’d welcome the opportunity to have breakfast with him, or Sen. Hewitt, or anyone else willing to discuss our efforts to cut workers’ compensation costs while preserving the safety net for injured workers.”

I caught up with Hewitt after the Senate ended floor sessions today. He said he already apologized to Chopp. “If he says he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it,” Hewitt said.

No word yet from the House Democrats, who perhaps already said it all to Hewitt.

Meanwhile, talks continue between both political parties in the House and Senate. Sen. Janea Holmquist-Newbry, R-Moses Lake, said that things did not look so good after she met with Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, this morning.

She said her two latest suggestions for a workers comp reform agreement were rejected. Holmquist Newbry said she wants a permanent solution that lowers pension costs she described as the highest in the country.

Holmquist Newbry said she offered to move to a middle ground by proposing to allow cash-settlements only for permanently injured workers above the age of 50 or so.

But she said she was looking forward to a meeting later today where she hoped to get details of Gov. Chris Gregoire's latest proposal dealing with the GOP- and business-backed proposals to allow cash-settlements to reduce pension-fund costs for permanently injured workers.

UPDATED to fix wording errors.