Release: Spokane Home Builders Association Taking the Lead on Candidate Transparency

(Spokane, Wash.) – The Board of Directors of the Spokane Home Builders Association (SHBA) made the decision this week to modify its candidate endorsement policy to include mandatory background checks for anyone seeking election support going forward.

The background checks are free and self-authorized by the candidates. The SHBA is partnering with Candidate Verification, a non-profit 501C3 organization based in Seattle to make this requirement possible. Once the candidate has had the opportunity to review his or her background check, Candidate Verification will then post it online for the public to see.

More information about Candidate Verification can be found at www.candidateverification.org.

“As an Association that has long advocated for more government transparency, and as one of our region’s strongest and most active political advocacy organizations, it seemed a natural fit to make mandatory background checks a pre-requisite for our endorsement,” said Michael Cathcart, Government Affairs Director for the Spokane Home Builders Association. “We see this as the next evolution of candidate and election transparency and we are excited to be the first in Eastern Washington to sign-on and the second organization in the State to make this mandatory.”

Already implementing mandatory background checks is the Western Washington advocacy organization, Stand for Children. Others encouraging candidates to comply, but not making it mandatory, include: the King County Municipal League, King County Republican Party, Snohomish County REALTORS Association, and Progressive Majority.

“We don’t want to be all alone in this here in Eastern Washington,” added Cathcart. “This is a very non-partisan issue, so we have started the process of reaching out to a broad and bi-partisan range of political, labor, and business organizations that support and endorse candidates and asking them to join us in making candidate transparency a priority. We are calling on the Spokesman Review and the Inlander to join-in as well.”

The background checks through Candidate Verification will include:

  • Civil and criminal records search, including the national sex offender registry search
  • Military records verification
  • Resume verification, including: employment history verification, professional credential verification, and post-secondary degree/diploma verification
  • NOTE: A credit check is not part of this process

“This added step is beneficial for the candidate as well as the community,” said Cathcart. “The candidates will benefit because any erroneous information about their background will be kept to a minimum and the community gets to benefit from the certainty and transparency the background checks provide. The voters will actually have a way to verify some of the information candidates are telling them throughout election season.”

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Rep. Short & Sen. Ericksen Push for Low Cost Alternatives in Climate Plan; Urge Continued Legislative Role in State Climate Actions

On page 1 of their own CLEW report, Rep. Short and Sen. Ericksen call for continued work to “provide legislators with the data necessary to make informed decisions.” Right off the bat they recognize that these decisions are to be made ultimately by the Legislature. They specifically use language in the report such as, Legislation should be enacted…,” and the Legislature should form…” Clearly a stark contrast exists between the two sides in their views over the role of the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

You can view their report in its entirety by clicking here.

Here are the ideas proposed by Rep. Shelly Short and Sen. Doug Ericksen:

  • Incentivize hydroelectric power generation
  • Replace fossils fuels with nuclear generation
  • Promote research and development (R&D) for new technologies
  • Encourage conservation under the Energy Independence Act (I-937)
  • Allow renewable energy credit banking under I-937
  • Modify fuel mix reporting system

Gov. Inslee Ignores Legislature’s Role; Continues Push for Potentially Costly New State Programs

Governor Inslee has refused for weeks to back away from his consideration of implementing low carbon fuel standards and possibly other actions such as Cap N’ Trade by Executive Order. This has been an issue largely seen as a killer for any transportation deals this year.

In the CLEW report issued this week by Governor Inslee, Senator Ranker, and Rep. Fitzgibbon, the Governor uses this as another opportunity to vaguely state the role he believes the Legislature should have in these decisions. On page 4 the report states, “The Legislature should be actively engaged in this process through an ongoing executive and legislative dialogue on the actions we should take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions….once specific proposals emerge, they will be subject to review by legislators, stakeholders, and our citizens.”

On page 13 the report states, “To meet the Workgroup’s statutory obligation, we have identified a set of actions that will secure the additional emission reductions by the required dates and are recommending that the state move forward to design and implement these actions.” Then as the report is wrapping up and addressing the “Future Process and Timeline” on page 16, it states that “policy designs and economic analysis should be organized and conducted by the executive branch in 2014,” and again reiterates the role of the legislature will be to engage in a dialogue and review proposals.

Brazenly, the notion of Legislators taking action on any of the proposals is ignored, instead limiting the role to having a dialogue and allowing a review of materials. Clearly, the Governor’s lengthy stay in the US Congress somehow never educated him on the concept of separation of powers.

You can view the entire report by clicking here.

The recommendations from the Governor includes:

  • Establish a Cap N’ Trade Program (The report calls it a Cap N’ Market Program)
  • Reduce and Eliminate Power by Coal in Washington State
  • Create an Energy Smart Building Programs – Include incentives and financing for energy neutral development.
  • Finance the use of Clean/Renewable Energy Programs
  • Transportation Adjustments – Accelerate the use of clean cars, cleaner fuels, and change the way we finance transportation. Add Climate Change considerations to Land Use plans.

If you like your toilet…will you be able to keep it?

ImageA bill introduced last week from Rep. Fitzgibbon (D-King County) would adopt a more stringent low flow toilet standard overriding the federal 1.6-gallons-per-flush standard that’s been in place since 1994.

Under HB 2414 (read here), as of January 2016, all toilets, other than institutional and commercial toilets, toilets used by children in day care facilities, and toilets used in bariatric applications, sold, offered for sale, or distributed in this state must be high efficiency toilets,” described as having an “effective flush volume…not exceed[ing] 1.28 gallons.”

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Environment Thursday morning at 8:00am. You can watch the stream live or after it airs over at TVW.org

An additional question that needs to be asked if this passes is where will they try to take us next?

The bill does include some fluffy language about the astronomical level of savings that would occur “if every home in the United States replaced old toilets with new high efficiency toilets,” and as this Huffington Post articlepoints out, California has already put that mandate into law.

As of Jan 1st in California, homeowners can no longer “get final approval for a variety of home improvements — from replacements of windows to a room addition — unless they have low-flow plumbing fixtures throughout their properties.” In addition, by 2017, homes for sale will have to disclose any substandard plumbing devices during the sale, as though the home was infested with termites or mold.

HB 2414 is just another case of Washington State trying to show up the federal government by further limiting the choices of homeowners and builders.

Vague and Contradictory Data Make State’s Climate Report a Policy Rorschach Test | Washington Policy Center

Vague and Contradictory Data Make State’s Climate Report a Policy Rorschach Test | Washington Policy Center

—> Click to read the article from the Washington Policy Center

The Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup (CLEW) was designed earlier this year in a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker and championed by Gov. Jay Inslee as a means to develop a broad range of options (including carbon pricing) to meet the greenhouse gas emission goals set by the legislature in 2008. The legislation indicates that it is supposed to analyze the greenhouse gas emission reduction programs implemented in other jurisdictions in order to find the most cost effective program for our state. Specifically its to do so by evaluating, “the relative impact [of those programs] upon different sectors of the jurisdiction’s economy, including power rates, agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation fuel costs; [and] the impacts upon household consumption and spending, including fuel, food, and housing costs, and program measures to mitigate impacts to low-income populations.”

Unfortunately, the group Chaired by Gov. Inslee has struggled to move forward a comprehensive economic impact analysis since it began meeting in May 2013. It even held two public forums, one in Spokane and one in Seattle before any economic impacts of the proposed tax and regulatory policies were known – perhaps indicating that the economics are more of an afterthought. 

Finally, in early November the consultant hired by CLEW released a report (link: http://alturl.com/ctk5k) containing several snippets of data pasted into a series of tables. However, much of the data contained in the near last minute report (the group is set to vote on recommendations in the coming weeks) comes out of jurisdictions different from Washington and in some cases from studies several years old – making the quality and value of these snippets questionable at best. 

Thankfully, Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center has provided some of his insights in the article linked above.

SPOKANE HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION SOUNDS THE ALARM ON INITIATIVE 517 (I-517)

For Immediate Release

Sept 20, 2013

SPOKANE HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION SOUNDS THE ALARM ON INITIATIVE 517 (I-517)

(SPOKANE, Wash.) – On Thursday, the Spokane Home Builders Association (SHBA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose I-517 on the November ballot.

The measure, sponsored by Tim Eyman, has floated largely under the radar this year, but it contains two specific changes to the law that are of significant concern to the SHBA – local ballot access for illegal ballot initiatives and significant incursions into private property rights.

Ballot Access for Illegal Measures (Section 4)
“Any state or local initiative for which sufficient valid voter signatures are submitted within the time period required must be submitted to a vote of the people at the next election date.”

Regarding the issue of Ballot Access, Michael Cathcart, Director of Government Affairs for the SHBA pointed out, “If this law had been in effect only a few weeks ago, the pre-election challenge to the illegal Envision Spokane and SMAC ballot measures would not likely have been possible.” On August 23rd, the Spokane Superior Court ruled the contents of those measures were beyond the scope of a local ballot initiative and ordered their removal from the ballot. “When a measure is illegal and seeks to strip rights away from the people and/or from businesses it should not be placed on the ballot without an opportunity to challenge its validity. Right now, that opportunity exists through pre-election challenge – this provision would strip that away.”

Private Property Rights (Section 2)
“…the signing of a petition and the collection of vote signatures …is deserving of the highest levels of protection.”
 
“…shall be a legally protected activity on public sidewalks and walkways and all sidewalks and walkways that carry pedestrian traffic, including those in front of the entrances and exits of any store, and Inside or outside public buildings such as public sports stadiums, convention/exhibition centers, and public fairs. Law enforcement must vigorously … ensure they are not inhibited or restricted in any way.”

The other concern is the “significant expansion of rights to signature gatherers, seemingly above the rights of property owners,” said Anthony Carollo, SHBA Board Member and Government Affairs Committee Chairman. “The initiative states that petitioners are to be given the ‘highest levels of protection’ and are ‘not to be inhibited or restricted’ on ‘all walkways that carry pedestrian traffic.’ We have members with store fronts that would be negatively impacted by this initiative, but it would also harm many non-member stores and businesses around our community, so I’m glad we are sounding the alarm.”

“We have a deep respect for the right of the people to petition their government through the initiative process,” said Cathcart, “but making it easier to harm local jurisdictions with illegal ballot measures, and passing laws stripping private property rights is not the appropriate way to improve the system currently in place.”

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Gov. Inslee Authorizes Attack on Spokane County Growth Plan

In a press release issued yesterday, the Department of Commerce announced that Director Brian Bonlender, along with Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson, have received authorization to challenge the Spokane County Urban Growth Area expansion approved earlier this year. The press release accuses the Spokane County Commissioners of undermining the work to protect Fairchild Air Force Base from encroachment, in addition to what they claim will be “significant costs to taxpayers for infrastructure and property acquisitions, and unmitigated impacts on the state highway system.”

On a side note, back in April, Sen. Michael Baumgartner asked his constituents to watch the confirmation hearing of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender and respond with their feedback. Well, the Senator described the response as the “most dramatic [he’s] ever received.” To see the numbers scroll down to the end.

In a Spokesman Review Article published this morning, Commissioner French explains that “We have done everything we have the statutory ability to do to protect Fairchild,” and that, “he was told by base officials that the new county zoning standards meet Air Force concerns.”

The County Commissioners already went back in and reduced the proposed number of acres in the expansion from about 6,000 to 4,100 largely out of concerns from the Department of Commerce.

So what is this all really about? Bringing development to a halt!

Just last week, a Spokane Superior Court judge rejected a motion for a stay, filed by several progressive organizations in Spokane County, who were seeking “to prevent landowners in the new urban areas from gaining ‘vesting rights’ for development projects prior to completion of [their] appeal.”

Then stated in yesterday’s press release (and repeated in the Spokesman Review today), “Gov. Inslee request[s] that the county stop accepting applications for new development.”

According to Commissioner Mielke last week, “The commissioners are not going to hold up applications…The commissioners could face lawsuits from property owners for not allowing them to exercise development rights.”

Here is the contact information for the County Commissioners if you would like to thank them for their work on the UGA expansion and to encourage them to continue on the right path!

Phone: (509) 477-2265

Commissioner Todd Mielke – tmielke@spokanecounty.org

Commissioner Al French – afrench@spokanecounty.org

Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn – soquinn@spokanecounty.org

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