Sunday, February 17, 2013

Vote While Ya Got'Em

The Washington State Senate is in something of an interesting situation. A pair of conservative Democratic senators has formed a coalition with the Republican senators to form the "Majority Coalition Caucus." One of the Democrats, Rodney Tom of Medina a former (?) Republican stated that: "The public out there is hungry for us to come together, to work together in a collaborative manner, and that's exactly what this coalition is trying to accomplish." This, of course, relies on the classic Washington (D.C.) idea that as long as one or two members of a group have the other party's initial after their name, then it's "bipartisan."

Although it helped, it didn't take a high degree of cynicism to suspect that the Republicans were going to try to use their new status as the defacto majority to try to push policies that would have gone nowhere had they remained in the minority, and this is shaping up to be the case, with Vancouver Republican Senator Don Benton having introduced a bill, the Family Second Chance Act that would force divorcing couples to wait at least 90 days for the dissolution of their marriages to finalize and be required to read a court-issued handbook, which would be amended to include the benefits of reconciliation. In certain cases where one partner has a history of certain violent or sexual felonies or if a protection order was issued, the waiting period would be shorter, although I don't know if the reading requirement goes away.

While it's unknown if the bill will have the votes to make out of committee, Democratic activists are monitoring the Republicans' moves, and are targeting the two Democratic members of the caucus. Continuing to treat a traditionally Blue state as ripe for a more Red legislative agenda, while it might appease the more conservative Easter part of the state is going to wind up increasing the partisan divide, and pushing people to ensure that in order to be a successful candidate, one must distance oneself from the center. Hardly the best way to create a collaborative majority.

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