Legislative outlook for 2014 session | Inside Politics

Bob Roegner - Contributed
Bob Roegner
— image credit: Contributed

The Legislature opened this week. Transportation needs will lead the way in debate, along with higher education, mental health and pensions.

Marijuana rules might be interesting. But other than adding more money to K-12 education under court order, don’t expect much to happen. This is an election year, and with the Republicans in control of the Senate, and the Democrats in control of the House and Governor’s Office, every one can kill each other’s bills.

There will be plenty of bills introduced, but they will be designed to either make legislators look good at home, or make the other legislators look bad at home. Most bills will only pass their house of origin and will be used to score points with each party’s political base. Legislators, with few exceptions, are neither as good or as bad as you will hear.

Everyone wants to do a good job and most mean well. But both sides have strong convictions and significantly different points of view. There will be villains and there will be heroes. But they will be determined by your own view and who wins the message battle.

Both parties believe they have a good chance of controlling both Houses. That will be the battlefield. Who will control the two Houses?

The big winner this session may be Gov. Jay Inslee. There isn’t a budget crisis, his legislation requests and expectations are modest, he’s not up for re-election and he had a pretty good off season. Think bridge replacement.

Republicans seem likely to retain control of the Senate and since they only need to gain another seat for complete control, look for them to demote current majority leader Sen. Rodney Tom (D) as soon as the election is over. In the sometimes cold world of politics, he will have served his purpose. Of course, the Democrats want to defeat him at the ballot box and save the Republicans the trouble.

Closer to home, the speculation continues.

Rep. Roger Freeman is running and Republicans are being careful about challenging someone who is fighting cancer. However, Freeman has kept up a steady meeting pace and looks ready for the race. Rep. Linda Kochmar is running as well. She has joined Freeman at many local meetings, including the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, city government and schools.

The race everyone remains interested in is whether or not Sen. Tracey Eide will run. She has said yes previously, but many think that is to avoid lame duck status so she can still produce for her district during the session.

Only time will tell, but the possibility of her not running is what has apparently led Republicans to encourage former Mayor Skip Priest to consider running. Although they believe the numbers suggest Priest could defeat Eide, others say it would be hard for anyone to beat her with the current district demographics. There is also some doubt that Priest will actually run.

But if Eide were to drop out, Priest wouldn’t have the field to himself. Some Democratic names mentioned include Roger Flygare, Anthony Murrietta and Councilmember Martin Moore.

Councilmember Kelly Maloney’s name has also come up from both parties, as she has never declared a party affiliation, so both would like to recruit her.

However, Maloney and Moore both say they just got elected to the Council and anything else is a long ways off. Flygare and Murrietta’s names are also being mentioned as possible candidates for appointment to Jim Ferrell’s vacant Council seat.

To take the speculation one step farther, what if Eide does retire and Freeman steps up and runs for the Senate? Then the dominoes would fall a little different. In that case, Councilmember Bob Celski’s name comes up as a possible candidate to run for Freeman’s seat. Celski is a Republican. Or what if former Republican state Rep. Katrina Asay wants to run again, as some would like.

However, like always, there could be another twist. A new name being circulated is Democrat Kristine Reeves, who is on U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s staff and thought to be a possible candidate against Kochmar.

Eide’s potential departure would change the playing field and possibly Reeves’s direction.

The big domino is Eide. She is a very powerful senator, who has built up a lot of chips with her ability to bring home projects. What will she do?

More speculation to follow as the field takes shape.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn: bjroegner@comcast.net.


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