Who is calling the shots in Olympia?
Rodney Tom appointed conservative Republicans to lead the Senate's most influential committees. By empowering these conservatives, Tom ensured that common-sense and broadly-supported legislation would never make it out of committee. Here are the senators Rodney Tom has chosen to lead:
Becker is a staunch opponent of a woman's right to choose and has sponsored legislation to defund and limit access to abortion services.1 As Chair of the Health Care Committee, Becker refused to allow a vote on the Reproductive Parity Act, a measure that would require insurance companies that cover maternity care to also cover abortion.2 Despite broad support among state representatives, senators, and voters, Becker unilaterally chose to kill the RPA.3
For almost three years, Pam Roach was legally barred from interacting with Republican Caucus staff after she verbally-abused a staff member. Yet in order to secure enough votes to form the Republican Senate Majority, conservative senators needed to lift an official censure on Pam Roach.4 Now Roach, whose own party accused her of anger management issues, is in charge of the committee that oversees ethics in government.5
In the wake of unspeakable shootings in Aurora, Newtown, and beyond, Padden has used his power as committee chair to block measures that would make our communities safer from gun violence.6 Padden, who earned an A+ rating from the NRA,7 refuses to consider reforms to Washington's gun laws. If Tom had not switched sides, the Law and Justice Committee would continue to be led by Adam Kline, a Democrat with a history of consistent support for gun safety legislation.8
The DREAM Act would allow hard-working aspiring citizens to access financial aid in order to get a college education. Higher Education Committee Chair Barbara Bailey has refused to allow a vote on the DREAM Act despite its broad bi-partisan support and potential benefits to the community.9 Though the bill passed 77-20 in the House and was expected to pass in the Senate,10 the DREAM Act has stalled indefinitely in Bailey's committee. Should one legislator have the power to decide if a bill lives or dies?
The Senate committee tasked with protecting the health and beauty of our natural environment is currently chaired by climate skeptic11 Doug Ericksen, who has blocked common-sense legislation that would save families money and diminish our carbon foot-print.12 Ericksen invited climate-deniers to testify before his committee, despite overwhelming consensus about the causes and dangers of global warming.13 Should our senators listen to scientific experts or conspiracy theorists?
Janea Holmquist Newbry earned a 15% lifetime score from the Washington State Labor Council.14 She sponsored legislation to overturn Washington's Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act, a measure intended to give working parents time off to care for newborn and sick children.15 Holmquist Newbry then voted to weaken Seattle's sick leave ordinance, a law that would encourage workers to recuperate from illness instead of coming to work sick.16 She also sponsored a bill to undercut Washington's minimum wage by allowing employers to pay new workers a "training wage" as low as $6.89 an hour17–that's less than half of what a single person needs to make ends meet in Washington.18
Hill authored the Senate's 2013 budget, which proposed service cuts for families, job-seekers, and people with disabilities, while giving away millions in new tax breaks.19 Hill's budget defends tax loopholes for Big Oil and corporate special interests, money that could be used to strengthen our education system.20 Instead, the budget relies on accounting tricks to fund education. Hill even supported a Tim Eyman-style amendment to the constitution that would require a 2/3 supermajority to raise revenue.21