As of Friday, November 17, 2017
A key election win for westside Democrats will likely have dramatic consequences for Eastern Washington — and most likely, not for the better.
As Republican Sen. Dino Rossi finishes out the year in his 45th Legislative District seat, Democrat Manka Dhingra will be stepping in. The change from Republican to Democrat in that district takes with it control of the Senate, and the entire state government.
Instead of the Majority Coalition controlling the Senate, Democrats will have a one-vote advantage. That’s in addition to the two-vote advantage Democrats already have in the House. So, beginning in 2018, we’ll be back to one-party rule in Olympia, where Democrats will control the House, Senate and governor’s mansion.
Add Washington back into the “Left Coast,” where Democrats control both the executive and legislative branches of government in Oregon and California.
What’s at stake for us east of the Cascades? Two things come to mind immediately — taxes and water.
During the last Legislative session, the Senate’s Majority Caucus — the caucus is a combination of Republicans and a conservative Democrat or two — put the state capital budget on the back burner, using it as leverage to try to get a Hirst fix so ruralites could again have access to well water.
The Hirst issue stems from a state Supreme Court decision that essentially made it too expensive for most rural counties to meet new well and water-monitoring mandates.
Much of the squabbling in Olympia last year was over the need to do something about access to water before giving state agencies more money to add onto their fiefdoms.
The Senate passed a Hirst fix more than once.
But House Democrats were not concerned about the impact on those of us who live outside the metropolitan areas of the state. So, after more than a year, it’s still nearly impossible for anyone but the wealthy to get a permit to drill a well just for drinking water.
To add salt to the wound, the Majority Caucus held in check Gov. Jay Inslee’s barrage of proposed tax increases, mostly. I’m sure big-government liberals west of the Cascades are already making plans for a host of new taxes — a new carbon tax, a per-mile driving tax, higher property taxes, just to name a few.
I know state voters just overwhelmingly told Olympia the new taxes the Legislature imposed during the last session should be repealed. But I don’t think those straw ballots will carry much weight in the new one-party government.
After all, while water is king in Eastern Washington, money is king west of the Cascade crest.
I can see a slew of new regulations coming, especially with the governor gallivanting around the world droning on about climate change.
At least those of us who live in rural areas still have an ace left in the deck. That ace is the required 60 percent supermajority required to pass the bonding bill to pay for a capital budget.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said he doesn’t think five Republicans will jump ship to meet the threshold, at least not until there is a legislative fix to the Hirst decision.
I hope he’s right.
— Roger Harnack is the publisher and editor of The Daily Sun. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.