REQUEST FOR FEDERAL GRAND JURY 5
PERFORMANCE AUDIT SCORECARD 6
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION HEALTH CARE LEGISLATION 10
LIVING LIBERTY MAY 2005
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
“Leave our paychecks alone!” State employees resist union representation by Michael Reitz
reedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed,” wrote Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “Letter From Birmingham City Jail.” Washington state employees are getting a crash course in demanding their freedom. On March 22, dozens of state workers gathered at the Tivoli Fountain on the Washington State Capitol grounds to rally against the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE), the state’s largest public employee union. Carrying signs proclaiming “Just say no!,” “WFSE is not for me!,” and “We don’t want to pay $$$, WFSE!,” these workers protested the union’s heavy-handed tactics in forcing thousands of state employees to begin paying dues. “We don’t need the union,” Gail Early, a Child Protective Services employee, told a reporter. While these workers rallied for a free choice, a smaller group of union organizers gathered on the Capitol steps. Sen. Karen Keiser told the union supporters that the policy of forced dues is “one of the chief accomplishments in the collective bargaining process.” WFSE president Carol Dotlich called on workers who object to compulsory unionism to “just come home!” The union group then left the Capitol steps and marched right through the middle of the protesting state employees, an appropriately symbolic gesture of the union’s disregard for those who oppose it. Secretive union vote The confrontation at the state employee rally has been in the making for years. In 2002, the Washington Legislature passed the Personnel System Reform Act, allowing public sector unions to negotiate wage and hour guidelines for state employees. Last year the governor’s office and representatives of nearly
twenty unions negotiated the first collective bargaining agreements under the new law. The negotiated contracts were subject to a vote by state workers in late September 2004. Unfortunately, the unions failed to adequately notify affected workers, and thousands were never informed of the details of the contract or of their right to approve or deny it. Some employees received notification the day before the vote. One DSHS employee learned of the vote 15 minutes before the polls closed. Many employees were unable to obtain a copy of the contract they were asked to ratify, making it impossible to know what they were voting on. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation learned of the vote just days before the ratification and sent out a last-minute e-mail to about 15,000 state workers. For many, EFF’s e-mail was the first they’d heard of the ratification. Because of the unions’ inadequate notification to the approximately 30,000 general government employees covered by the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) contract, only 6,133 voted.
Workers who had not previously joined the union were supposed to be allowed to vote on the contract, as it affected them too, but union officials tried to stack the odds in their own favor by misleading employees. According to employees covered by the Washington Public Employees Association contract, nonmembers were told they would have to join the union for the right to ratify the contract, amounting to a poll tax for the privilege of voting on their own contract. On the last day of the contract ratification, a group of Health Care Authority employees tried to call attention to the vote by standing outside the WFSE offices with signs that said “Vote today or pay tomorrow.” They were subjected to angry stares from union operatives and, according to one employee, even spit at for simply trying to help the union fulfill its responsibility to publicize the vote. Ultimately, the contracts were ratified by a small percentage of the employees impacted—most of them current union members. But union officials underestimated the reaction they would provoke by their underhanded management of the contract vote. Continued on page 8
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Election Reform in the Legislature by S. Alex Bohler, J.D.
n her State-of-the-State address, Governor Christine Gregoire announced the appointment of an Election Task Force that would “travel the state and listen carefully to suggestions from citizens on how we can move forward with improvements in our election system.” EFF representatives attended all five hearings of the Task Force. The public’s recommendations were clear. They wanted: • 100 percent re-registration of all voters, with voters required to show proof of citizenship and register in their legal name. • Photo and signature identification required before the voter voted. • State officials need to implement election laws that are already on the books. However, neither the House nor the Senate held even one public hearing on the Task Force’s recommendations, and both chambers failed to deliver the true reform the public has demanded. Meanwhile, Sam Reed failed to forcefully lobby the legislature to adopt a requirement for voters to show valid, government-issued picture identification to vote. Reed did push for increased funding to train election workers, and to move the date of the primary, neither
of which are likely to solve the crisis in public confidence. Several legislators have shown an admirable level of leadership this session: Senators Pam Roach, Tim Sheldon, and Val Stevens, Representatives Toby Nixon, Bill Hinkle, Cary Condotta, and Whatcom county legislator Doug Ericksen. In a recent interview, Nixon hit the nail on the head: “Our current system is skewed too far in the direction of convenience, openness and speed and has sacrificed security, integrity, and accuracy.” These legislators, and others, supported EFF’s primary recommendations which were identical to most of the recommendations given to the Governor’s Election Reform Task Force by the general public and EFF members. The Washington Republican Party also recently endorsed the EFF reform package. Lewis County’s The Chronicle, in an April 13, 2005, editorial, summed up what election reformers have been thinking for months: “Any election reform package that comes out of this session of the Legislature would be seriously flawed if it omitted requiring voters to show photo identification at polling places before they receive ballots and prospective new voters to verify their U.S. citizenship with election officials……[these reforms] are
sensible, reasonable protection against voter fraud….” But these recommendations largely fell on deaf ears in the legislature. A weak version of election reform passed the House and contained the following provisions which were promptly killed in the Senate by opponents of authentic election reform: • A requirement that first time voters show registration card or photo identification when they vote at the polls. • A review of county election procedures by the Secretary of State every three years. (EFF actually wanted this to be done by the State Auditor.) • A ban on vote shopping, which is what occurred after the election when party operatives contacted voters who had voted by provisional ballot and got them to sign affidavits to cure ballot problems. • A prohibition on ballot enhancement. • A requirement that the Secretary of State to submit the voter rolls to the Department of Homeland Security, in order to check the citizenship status of registered voters. In addition, the House legislation would require that ballots be tabulated if the name and the signature are different, but the handwriting appears to match. What a tremendous opportunity for more election mischief by election
workers. Even more unbelievable is that the House also downgraded vote fraud to a misdemeanor! Instead of tightening the election system, supporters of this legislation want to make it easier to cheat and steal elections. Sadly, the House would also let convicted felons vote as soon as they complete their sentences (as opposed to the current law which requires them to make restitution before they can vote). Even the liberal-dominated Florida Supreme Court recently upheld that state’s ban on felons voting. Current legislation would allow anyone to register to vote even if they did not have a driver’s license; state ID card; or social security number. It essentially allows anyone breathing and physically present to register to vote with no proof of identification. The House also requires all counties to go to a vote by mail system by 2012. EFF believes this will dramatically increase voter fraud and reduce oversight of the election process. Errors will be buried, fraud can be masked, and vote buying and coercion will increase. The legislature did pass House Bill 1749, which allows the secretary of state to do periodic audits and reviews of county election procedures and workContinued on page 8
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1 “LEAVE OUR PAYCHECKS ALONE!” STATE EMPLOYEES RESIST UNION REPRESENTATION
2 ELECTION REFORM IN THE LEGISLATURE
3 LETTER FROM LYNN HOW TO ABOLISH THE “RULING CLASS”
4 WASTE WATCHERS DGA MUST SPEND ANOTHER $300,000 FOR CAPITOL ACCESSIBILITY PROBLEMS...
LEGISLATIVE ROUND-UP 5 EFF FILES REQUEST FOR FEDERAL GRAND JURY Beginning July 1, 2005, tens of thousands of state employees will be required to pay union dues in order to keep their jobs. Workers who object to their dues being used for political purposes can request a rebate from their union. The Washington Federation of State Employees rebate is currently set at 17 percent of an employee’s dues. Additionally, those who object to union membership on the basis of religious belief can divert their dues to a charity. Current contract language violates federal religious accommodation requirements, but National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorney Bruce Cameron, J.D., is assisting state employees who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights. For information or assistance, please contact: Evergreen Freedom Foundation Labor Policy Center Michael Reitz, Director (360) 956-3482 firstname.lastname@example.org
6 PERFORMANCE AUDITS PLEDGE SCORECARD 8 DEMOCRATS’ BUDGET GUARANTEES FUTURE “DEFICIT” IN THEIR OWN WORDS: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 10 HEALTH CARE LEGISLATION—HOW’S IT LOOKIN’? 12 EFF PROFILE: ALEX BOHLER
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
LetterLET fromTER Lynn FROM LY NN How to abolish the “Ruling Class”
he inspiring and informational day was almost over—officially, anyway. Excellent meetings and workshops had filled each moment, a fact I noted with some horror when I realized I had only 20 short minutes to dress for dinner. At midnight, I was still up, enjoying lively conversation with some of my colleagues and mentors in this freedom business. We had come from all corners of the country to learn, teach and talk with each other. Our backgrounds were different, our education diverse, our hobbies dissimilar, and each of us possessed widely different talents. But we were bound together by our fierce love for freedom and humankind, and our distrust of those who fancy themselves the American “ruling class.” These unflinching warriors were (and are) some of my favorite people—the kind you want in the trenches with you. We had an earnest discussion that night about the linkage of freedom, personal character and government. Great thinkers, from ancient to modern times, have always disagreed about the necessary role of government as it relates to human nature. Boiled down to its simple essence, which is true? 1) Natural justice exists among humans with or without the state, but the presence of the state (government) better protects our interests, or 2) humans are too often greedy, unjust and warlike, and the state is necessary if our interests are to be protected. Either way, what role should the state play? We have a Goliath-sized government now. It’s out of hand under either point of view. How did this happen, and can its size and scope be reversed? Can unchecked, paternalistic government spring from people of strong char-
acter who love liberty? Or does weak character in a society give birth to an unchecked, paternalistic government? I think the latter. From an ideological standpoint, freedom-loving people do not think they are entitled to the fruits of someone else’s labor. They understand that passing laws to benefit themselves at the expense of another is short-sighted and dangerous. They recognize that selfgovernanceis essential to maintaining liberty. They realize the incongruousness of insisting they make their own lifestyle choices, while asking others to pay for the consequences of those choices. In practical terms, this means freedom-loving people find it incomprehensible that an agent regulated by government should determine the type, quality and cost of their medical procedures. They find it unacceptable that money should be taken from their paychecks to educate their children or someone else’s children in a manner wholly unacceptable to them. They recoil at the notion of government mandating the percentage of privately owned land that can be used by owners. And so on .... Freedom-loving people do not elect or re-elect individuals who govern this way. So how come we have a large, expensive, bureaucracy-ridden government run by officials who often behave, not as public servants, but as the ruling class? I do not believe such a government can exist in a society where the majority of citizens treasure freedom and the requisite personal responsibility that comes with it. The behemoth exists in America because we have allowed it. As a people, we have lost our love for liberty. In fact, many people are afraid of freedom, as if
it is inherently dangerous. This makes them willing to be led by overbearing and patronizing leaders who tickle their fancies and encourage personal greed. Furthermore, as a whole, we are grossly ignorant of history and dismissive of human nature. What else could cause people to believe that a government run by imperfect mortals could be benign, benevolent, and omnipotent? It is precisely because none of us is perfect that we must carefully restrict government’s business to its constitutional confines— confines that protect individual liberty. Most of us are capable of making good decisions about how to educate our children, spend our money, run our businesses, nurture our land and provide health care for ourselves and our families. It is in our best interest to make good decisions, and this includes thinking about how our actions will affect others. As long as we are allowed to reap the positive and negative consequences of our choices, we generally learn to make most of them wisely. When a man, woman or child fails to do the right thing, safety nets and remedies are at hand, if the private society around them is strong and if the laws are just. It is hard to have a strong private society when government presumes it is better suited to managing and regulating personal behavior than the family or other private institutions. Back to the question: Can we reverse the size and scope of government? It depends. It depends on whether we are successful in lighting the fires of freedom under a sufficient number of people. Can we help our families and friends fall in love with liberty again? Will they accept the personal responsibility that accompanies freedom? Can we stave off the
destruction caused by the “ruling class” while we get this done? Can we build a growing love for liberty that transcends the “ruling class”? I don’t know the answers to all those questions, but I know the required tasks at hand. Each is attached to a battle of some kind—a battle for the hearts and minds of our countrymen. I will be pleased, by the way, if you are offended by my use of the phrase “ruling class.” It should be offensive to any redblooded American. But a serious review of how much of our private business state and federal government regulate, and the patronizing comments made about us by so many of our elected officials, make “ruling class” an apt description. By the time you read this letter, I hope to have spent another evening or two discussing these matters anew with my colleagues from around the country. Maybe we’ll just tell each other all the new jokes we’ve learned since last year. But if the past is any indication, I’ll come home with intellectual swords newly sharpened for the occasions when such an implement is needed, and a renewed supply of soft persuasion for the happy occasions when a nudge in the right direction suffices. Most of you reading this letter are up to your eyeballs in the same battle. And the truth is, I don’t have to leave home to be inspired and taught. Many of you have blessed me mightily over the years with your own understanding and encouragement. I am grateful. Please keep it up. Those of us who really are the American “ruling class” (citizens with a legal right to vote) need each other.
Gas for under $2 per gallon by Jason Mercier
just found gas for under $2 per gallon. Well, actually, that may be false advertising. The gas may cost $1.97 per gallon, but then there’s the 18.4 cents per gallon of federal gas tax taking the total to $2.15 per gallon. And the 28 cents per gallon state gas tax takes the total to $2.43. Of course, if the legislature has its way, that total will increase to $2.58 per gallon once the full phase-in of the proposed 15-cent gas tax increase is realized. But the cost of the gas is only $1.97. Well not really. There are also the builtin fees and regulations for the environmental requirements placed on oil refiners, etc. The more I think about it, the true cost of gas is probably closer to $1.50. Doesn’t that make you feel better?
Waste Watchers DGA must spend another $300,000 for capitol accessibility problems… by Sarah Carrico
fter three years and almost $120 million in renovations, you’d think the Capitol campus is accessible to everyone, right? Well, according to the Washington General Administration (GA), the agency that oversees Washington’s public facilities, another $300,000 is needed to fix a number of problems with doors and elevators in the State Capitol. Questions were raised by Senator Darlene Fairley who, after a disabling car accident, uses crutches to walk. Doors and doorknobs in a bathroom on the second floor of the Senate Chambers aren’t fully accessible due to the preservation of historical fixtures. Sen. Fairley got trapped in the bathroom. “It’s pathetic when a senator is begging to get out of a bathroom”, she said (The Olympian). The restroom has since been equipped with powerassist, but the bathroom isn’t the only place posing problems. There is a large gap between the floor and the elevator serving the Senate chambers, providing a view down to the basement which Sen. Fairley called “scary.” The southeast “disability” entrance also leaves
something to be desired: the door is too heavy and does not have a button with which it can be opened automatically. The renovators were thoughtful enough to consider the preservation of historical bathroom fixtures important, but not thoughtful enough to consider simple accessibility issues. Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved all of the Capitol renovations, the entire building is not in complete compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). $300,000 might not seem like so much when it’s tacked onto the monstrous $118 million bill from the post-2001 earthquake renovation, but it’s still no small sum, and for all the debate, planning, and regulation, these issues should have been addressed… Call the General Administration accessibility specialist at (360) 902-7210 and let them know you’re concerned with the lack of oversight in the capitol renovation project. View renovation updates and statistics at http://www.ga.wa.gov/capitol/index.html.
Legislative Round-up by Ryan Bedford
he 2005 legislative session was not friendly to union accountability causes, but the dark cloud has a distinct silver lining. Legislators and the public in general are becoming more and more aware of the illicit influence labor special interests exert in state government and some lawmakers took bold steps to address it. Though these efforts failed, they were a good step in the right direction. Early indicators forewarned of the impending threat to the union accountability movement. The first bills that any legislature passes are largely symbolic and set the tone for the session. As if to prove a point, one of the first bills the legislature sent to Gov. Gregoire (SB 5097, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle) further entrenches Big Labor. It requires contractors working on large public works projects to reserve 15 percent of the workforce for employees enrolled in union apprenticeship programs. Because it is more difficult for non-union contractors to achieve this goal, the bill ensures union contractors a higher percentage of state construction contracts. The legislature also gutted Initiative 134, which was passed by Washington citizens in 1992 for the purpose of reducing Big Labor’s illicit influence in state elections. After I-134 passed, the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) issued a rule that improperly exempted corporations and labor unions from complying with campaign contribution limits. Last year’s Supreme Court decision Edelman v. State of Washington overturned the PDC rule and restored the voter’s original intent for I-134. Unions protested the decision, as it limited their ability to pour money into state elec-
tions virtually unchecked. This year the House added an emergency amendment to SB 5034 (Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup) which reversed the Supreme Court decision, thereby restoring the union’s unfair advantage over private citizens in state elections. The House passed this amendment as an “emergency,” making it impervious to a voter referendum. Another controversial bill, HB 1070 (Rep. Bill Fromhold, D-Vancouver), was widely criticized as retribution
“THE NEED FOR UNION ACCOUNTABILITY HAS BECOME PAINFULLY APPARENT AND A FEW BOLD LEGISLATORS TOOK ACTION THIS SESSION.”
by allies of organized labor against the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW). HB 1070 limited the administrative fees a provider could charge for administrating a worker compensation program. However, the bill obviously targeted the BIAW which charges an administrative fee for its services and uses the income to help fund its programs and advocate on behalf of its members. This advocacy often puts the BIAW at odds with organized labor. Intent on gaining an advantage, union officials lobbied for the bill, which would
have cut the BIAW’s budget in half, severely limiting its ability to advocate on behalf of its members. However, after a general public outcry led by most of the state’s newspapers, the bill went down in flames. Union officials were not deterred, and began lobbying for two new bills, SB 5842 (Sen. Mark Doumit, D-Cathlamet) and HB 1875 (Rep. Bill Fromhold, D-Vancouver). Instead of capping the administrative fees providers could charge for managing workers compensation pools, these bills just prohibited the fees from being spent on politics. Again, these bills were criticized as an attempt by some to cut an opponent off at the knees and they failed to make their way through the legislature. Thankfully, the publicity of union political activity over the past two years has backed up EFF’s years of work to reveal this political activism. The need for union accountability has become painfully apparent and a few bold legislators took action this session. The results were a number of bills that would never have made it onto paper a few years ago. While they all died in committee, the mere fact that they were introduced in the first place is a step in the right direction. Among the pertinent provisions of HB 1525 (Rep. Mark Miloscia, DFederal Way), unions would have been prohibited from using general treasury funds for political contributions on behalf of candidates or issues. This law would have given members the right to know the true extent of their union’s political involvement and hold them accountable. Unfortunately, it never got out of committee.
Another bill, SB 5711 (Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla), would have required labor organizations to account for their use of dues and inform members of the bargaining unit when dues are to be spent for political purposes. This positive reform did not survive committee either. Union accountability was not a priority of legislators whose campaigns were financed in part by compulsory union dues. The final and most exciting bill was the “Public Employee’s Bill of Rights,” introduced by Rep. Cary Condotta (REast Wenatchee). Many union officials penalize non-member employees (who still must pay full dues) by prohibiting them from participating in workplace decisions that directly affect them. HB 2256 would have required unions to provide all employees covered by the contract with three things: 1) annual written notice of their right to decline membership or resign for religious reasons; 2) financial information upon request including income, expenditures, and salaries of officers; and 3) equal opportunity to participate in decisions on workplace issues (vote on the contract, calendar, etc.). This bill would have gone a long way to extend equal participation rights to all employees forced to pay dues to a union, but it too died in committee. This legislative session has revealed that the top priority of far too many legislators is to repay union officials. However, the efforts of a few brave legislators put a silver lining on this dark cloud. If legislators hope to leave behind a true legacy, they must disown the “debt” they owe union officials and remember they work for the people.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
EFF files request for a Federal Grand Jury by Bob Williams
n January the Evergreen Freedom Foundation called for a grand jury investigation into the voting problems in King County. On April 1, the six Republican members of the King County Council filed a written request for a federal investigation with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. On April 7, EFF presented specific evidence (more than fifty pages) of possible election fraud and civil rights violations to General Gonzales and formally
lons cast illegal
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requested a federal grand jury be convened to investigate the serious charges. We pointed out to the U.S. Attorney General that the many irregularities being uncovered following the 2004 general election bring the integrity of our entire voting system into question. Our report to the federal government documented the following charges:
WASHINGTON CITIZENS CELEBR ATE
FR EED OM
at ased people and ce de of e m na the tes were cast in 2. At least 45 vo voted twice. least 15 people serted into ballots were in l na io is ov pr 0 unverified 3. More than 66 hines at the polls. tabulating mac isional to validate prov rs ke or w y rt pa ures collected by 4. Some signat parently forged. nty ballots were ap ted in King Couots. un co e er w s ot ll ball nt in absentee ba more absentee 5. Almost 900 r of registered voters who se l than the numbe ar 2000 genera ye e th om fr s cord reconciliation re 6. King County issing. election are m llots. ed (enhanced) ba ifi od m y ll ga le il als 7. Election offici Voters d not counted. w. an e id as t se e ntee ballots wer e not notified as required by la se ab d te ec el S 8. ranchised wer who were disenf ental ters in some m . vo er st gi re to nt organized effort tally incompete 9. There was an ions who had been judged men e health institut able to reconcil r un en be ve ha ve als y election offici tion records to co 10. King Countresults and are withholding elec polling place ssible fraud. up error and po the als who gave du vi di in ed er gist hich to nty illegally re d address at w an e nc 11. King Cou de si re r use as thei County Courtho receive mail. invalid duals who gave vi di in ed er st gi y illegally re 12. King Count ses. residence addres
by Jason Mercier Congratulations! By the time you read this, you will be closer to working to provide income for the needs of your family. From January 1 to April 20, the average Washingtonian worked to finance the tax appetites of federal, state and local government. Now you have just a few more months to work to pay for all the regulatory costs and fees government imposes. Then you’ll finally be free to work for yourself. On April 20, three days longer than the national average of April 17, Washingtonians finally reached Tax Freedom Day as calculated by the National Tax Foundation. Washington’s overall tax burden earns us the distinction of working longer to pay for our combined tax burden than taxpayers in 42 other states. According to the Tax Foundation: “Tax Freedom Day is calculated by dividing the official government tally of all taxes collected in each year by the official government tally of all income earned in each year.” Excluding federal taxes, Washington’s state and local tax burden earned us a ranking of 24th (meaning 26 other states have a lower state and local tax burden). Idaho scored a ranking of 27th,
The unwillingness of many local, state and federal officials to take a leadership role in pursuing possible irregularities is stunning, particularly given other election problems in recent years. The reluctance to act crosses party lines. The next time you see one of your elected officials, you might want to ask them why.
while Oregon came in at 36th. Washington should not be competing for first place in the Northwest when it comes to the highest tax obligation, yet we’ve succeeded in winning that distinction once
We believe there are strong indications of illegal activities including election fraud, noncompliance with regulations, and civil rights violations. However, state officials have only limited authority to pursue such allegations and county authorities have failed to carry out their responsibilities. Therefore, we believe that a Department of Justice investigation is necessary and urgent. Since we filed our request, we have been trying to set up a meeting with John McKay, the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, who has the authority to convene a grand jury. Mr. McKay has not returned any of our calls. Mike Siegel of KTTH has had his listeners call Mr. McKay’s office at 206-553-7970. On April 11, McKay’s office said he lacked the authority to convene a grand jury. EFF called the Department of Justice in
Washington, D.C., and got the specific statute (28 US Code 547 and 9-11-241) and read it on the air. On April 12, McKay’s office told the callers to call the FBI in Seattle. The FBI referred the calls to the Tacoma office and the Tacoma office said it needed the U.S. Attorney to call a grand jury. On April 13, McKay’s office told the callers the FBI was conducting an investigation. This isn’t true. EFF finally got through to Mr. McKay’s office on April 14 and it is apparent he will not take a leadership role on this issue unless he is forced to do so. Therefore, we filed a complaint with the FBI in Seattle on April 14. We will keep you informed of the progress of our efforts to get a grand jury.
again. Since Democrats gutted the voter-approved I-601 spending limit this session so they could raise taxes, Washingtonians will be working even longer to pay their tax burden next year. We haven’t yet escaped the full cost of government. Cost of Government Day, the date at which we have paid the full cost of government (taxes, fees and regulations), won’t arrive until sometime in July.
Performance audit pledge scorecard 19 legislators fail to honor pledge
he Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF) circulated a performance audit pledge last year to all legislative candidates in the hopes of securing independent, comprehensive performance audit authority for the benefit of taxpayers through the office of state auditor. Performance audits consist of periodic reviews of the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the policies, management, fiscal affairs, and operations of state government, conducted in accordance with the U.S. Government Accountability Office Government Auditing Standards. Performance audits are invaluable management tools to determine what is working as intended and what is not. Further, they almost always result in significant taxpayer savings. Of the candidates elected, 53 representatives and 17 senators signed the EFF performance audit pledge. Four major areas were emphasized: independence for the state auditor, comprehensive reviews (covering all of state government) with unrestricted audit scopes, public reporting, and dedicated funding. The EFF performance audit pledge also explicitly addressed the issue of the state auditor establishing audit scopes: “I pledge to support independent comprehensive performance audits of state agencies. The scope of performance audits should be established by the elected state auditor, not an unelected group of citizens appointed by the governor and legislature.” The House and Senate recently adopted their vision for performance audits (ESHB 1064). Unfortunately, the approved bills (final bill in conference committee) do not encompass all of the performance audit criteria outlined in the EFF pledge. Votes were taken on amendments that did meet all of the pledge’s performance audit criteria. In the House, Rep. Mike Armstrong offered such an amendment. Senators Pam Roach and Bill Finkbeiner offered amendments in the Senate. These amendments not only reflected all the elements of the EFF
performance audit pledge, they also mirrored the language the state auditor’s office drafted with House Speaker Frank Chopp. Yet this draft was never brought to the floor for consideration. Of the four major EFF pledge criteria, the approved Senate bill only included public reporting. Amendments that would have granted the state auditor the independent authority to conduct comprehensive performance audits of state government using dedicated funding failed on a vote of 24-25. Instead, the approved Senate bill gives authority to establish performance audit scope and criteria to an unelected political board. The bill also restricts performance audits of higher education and exempts the Department of Transportation (DOT audits are left to an unelected Transportation Audit Board). The approved House bill only included public reporting and dedicated funding. An amendment that would have granted the state auditor the independent authority to conduct comprehensive performance audits of state government failed on a vote of 47-49. Instead, the approved House bill also gives authority to establish performance audit scope and criteria to an unelected political board. The bill also exempts the Department of Transportation (DOT audits are left to an unelected Transportation Audit Board). Had just three of the 19 EFF pledge-signers who voted against the amendments honored their pledge, an initiative to the people to bring about truly independent comprehensive performance audit authority for the state auditor would have been unnecessary. As it stands now, Initiative 900 is the only proposal remaining that grants the state auditor this long overdue authority.
EFF is pleased to announce the addition of Jonathan Bechtle to EFF’s staff. He will be working on EFF’s Voter Integrity Project.
Prior to joining EFF, Jonathan served as the Senior Legal Assistant at the Home School Legal Defense Association in Virginia. There he worked with the firm’s attorneys to resolve client problems and achieve legislative reforms, as well as traveling around the U.S. to represent the association. His other experience includes working as an aide for Senators in Georgia and Indiana, and as an analyst for the Indiana Attorney General. Jonathan recently completed a Juris Doctor degree.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
PLEDGE VIOLATORS Had just three of the 19 EFF pledge-signers who voted against the amendments honored their pledge, Washington state would finally have meaningful performance audits.
Sen. Jim Kastama (D) Dist. 25 Olympia: (360) 786-7648 Alternate: (253) 840-4701 e-mail: email@example.com
Rep. John McCoy (D) Dist. 38 Olympia: (360) 786-7864 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Marilyn Rasmussen (D) Dist. 2 Olympia: (360) 786-7602 Alternate: (253) 847-2168 e-mail: email@example.com
Rep. Mark Miloscia (D) Dist. 30 Olympia: (360) 786-7898 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Sherry Appleton (D) Dist. 23 Olympia:(360) 786-7934 e-mail: email@example.com
Rep. Jim Moeller (D) Dist. 49 Olympia: (360) 786-7872 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Maralyn Chase (D) Dist. 32 Olympia: (360) 786-7880 e-mail: email@example.com
Rep. Dawn Morrell (D) Dist. 25 Olympia: (360) 786-7968 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
D E L I A
Speaker Frank Chopp (D) Dist. 43 Olympia: (360) 786-7920 e-mail: email@example.com
Rep. Judy Clibborn (D) Dist. 41 Olympia: (360) 786-7926 Alternate: (206) 232-7551 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Hans Dunshee (D) Dist. 44 Olympia: (360) 786-7804 e-mail: email@example.com
Rep. Al O’Brien (D) Dist. 1 Olympia: (360) 786-7928 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Mary Helen Roberts (D) Dist. 21 Olympia: (360) 786-7950 e-mail: email@example.com
Rep. Pat Sullivan (D) Dist. 47 Olympia: (360) 786-7918 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Ross Hunter (D) Dist. 48 Olympia: (360) 786-7936 e-mail: email@example.com
Rep. Brendan Williams (D) Dist. 22 Olympia: (360) 786-7940 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
To view the Performance Audit Pledge in its entirety, or to download a PDF of the Audit Pledge Scorecard, visit www.effwa.org/auditpledge.
-The Daily News
“Boo. Hiss. The Legislature is missing an opportunity to pass a piece of meaningful performance-audit legislation. It has approved a watered-down bill instead, all but ensuring a citizens’ initiative will tackle the job later this year. “ -The Columbian
Rep. Mike Sells (D) Dist. 38 Olympia: (360) 786-7840 e-mail: email@example.com
Rep. Mark Ericks (D) Dist. 1 Olympia: (360) 786-7900 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Patricia Lantz (D) Dist. 26 Olympia: (360) 786-7964 Alternate: (253) 265-6441 e-mail: email@example.com
“It’s hard to know exactly why Senate Democrats would be so resistant to giving the elected state auditor the authority to conduct these performance reviews throughout state government. But it doesn’t speak well of their commitment to getting the most out of every tax dollar.”
“[T]he House passed a performance audit bill that... still comes up short. It would create an oversight committee and political board with too much control over the state auditor. It also would require the auditor to hire private contractors for all performance audits.” -The Olympian
Please contact each of the Performance Audit Pledge violators and let them know how you feel about their failure to keep their pledge commitment.
State Employees continued from page 1 . . . Contract details shock state workers Once passed, several provisions of the new contracts came as a shock to state workers, who up to that point assumed that the unions had only the workers’ best interest in mind. The new contracts contain a forced-fee provision that requires all employees in represented bargaining units to pay dues, regardless of whether or not they want to become union members. Bargaining units are the designated departments or employee classifications within an agency and are agreed upon by the state and the union. In the past, union membership for state employees has been voluntary, but with the inclusion of the forced-fee provision, workers no longer have a choice. Dues are set at 1.37 percent of an employee’s salary, up to about $660 dollars a year. Employees who refuse to authorize the deduction from their paychecks will get fired at the union’s demand. The new contracts also contain a clause that violates the civil rights of individuals who object to union membership on the basis of religious belief. Typically, religious objectors are allowed to divert their union membership dues to a non-union, nonreligious charity. The new contracts, however, fail to accommodate people of faith, and actually require them to pay hundreds of dollars to the union, with the union’s “assurance” the money will be used in a manner that does not violate the objector’s conscience. State employees “Fed Up” Outraged over forced dues and the union’s sloppy management of the contract ratification, a group of employees at the Department of Ecology formed a grassroots movement called Frustrated Employees Deploring Unfair Practices, or “Fed Up.” Their message was simple: “If you’re going to force us to pay for union representation, at least give us a fair chance to vote on the contract.” Over the next few months, state employees began forming independent Fed Up groups in other agencies. Because of EFF’s reputation of advocating for union accountability, many state employees approached us for advice on how confront their unions. Employee groups all across the state began working toward an April 1 deadline to throw off union representation. The process, formally known as “decertification,” requires a 30 percent show of interest within an agency bargaining unit. Employees within a bargaining unit indicate their desire to throw off the union by filling out decertification signature cards. If employees reach the 30 percent threshold, union representation is decided by a majority vote. Unions initiate “spin” campaign Unable to deal with legitimate employee dissent, the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) has tried to discredit these energized employees by falsely accusing them of being “shadowy front groups” controlled by EFF. Union operatives even alleged that EFF was secretly funding the decertification efforts. Ironically, some state employees had never heard of EFF union officials told them they were being controlled by us. Upon learning of EFF’s opposition to forced union membership, additional state workers approached us for advice. Demonstrating how frantic the union can become when its multi-million dollar monopoly is threatened, the WFSE dubbed EFF, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, and the employee groups “the Axis of Evil.” Not limiting its opposition to generating conspiracies or spotting black helicoptors, the WFSE actively opposed Fed Up efforts. On March 14, Fed Up activists Ed and Char Shipley were placing decertification flyers and cards under car windshields at the Shelton DSHS Community Service Office. A union operative, Cathi Bailey, rushed out of the building and started snatching up the flyers. When the Shipleys objected that their
First Amendment rights were being violated, the union representative flippantly replied that she was “picking up trash” in the parking lot. The WFSE also circulated materials in response to Fed Up, downplaying the reality of the union’s mandatory dues scheme. In a flyer passed out to state employees, the WFSE insisted that employees who do not pay union dues will be “asked to contribute” an equivalent fee. The flyer failed to mention that employees who refuse will be fired at the union’s demand. April 1: Union Judgment Day April 1 was the deadline for state employees to file their decertification petitions, and they sent a clear message to union officials: “Don’t take us for fools.” Workers in thirty-two bargaining units filed decertification petitions with the Public Employment Relations Commission. These units represent 36 percent of the unionized work force in general government and 15 percent of unionized higher education employees. After all the union officials’ bluster about the Fed Up movement being a small minority of employees, these motivated workers accomplished an unprecedented reversal of fortune for the union in Washington state! Union officials are now horrified as they contemplate the loss of “their” bankroll of coerced dues. Anticipating an overwhelming defeat, on April 6 WFSE officially “disclaimed” its representation of the Health Care Authority (HCA), a small bargaining unit that had filed to decertify. Apparently the WFSE preferred to surrender the $100,000 in dues revenue it would have received from HCA rather than risk losing a democratic vote among state employees, fearing that a successful decertification vote would invigorate other employees who object to being forced into union membership. As it was, employees all across the state took heart at HCA’s victory, and began to work harder than ever for their freedom. At every juncture, union officials have avoided a truly democratic process. When negotiating the contracts, the unions failed to explain how thousands of employees would be forced to pay dues. When the agreement went to an employee vote, the union failed to adequately notify all affected employees.
Union Wizardry: unions tried to divert attention away from the concerns of state employees.
When employees began calling for reform, the WFSE attempted to discredit their concerns. And when HCA employees successfully petitioned for a new union election, the WFSE disbanded its representation of the unit altogether. Now state employees are wondering: if union officials are allowed to choose to abandon representation, shouldn’t they extend the same courtesy to employees to choose to abandon union membership? What does the future hold? Budget proposals released by Governor Christine Gregoire and both branches of the legislature fund the state employee contracts, scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2005. But the climate among Washington’s public-sector unions has permanently changed. By running roughshod over the rights of employees, unions inadvertently created a motivated group of activists. The decertification efforts will move forward, and union officials can expect to be dogged at every step by employees who demand accountability for the use of their money. The contracts also set up a likely court challenge because of the unconstitutional religious accommodation clause. Many state employees have religious objections to supporting the union and they intend to litigate for their rights if necessary. Despite the current gain in membership for Washington’s unions, national union membership has been spiraling downward for fifty years. According to the most recent numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 12.5 percent of American workers belonged to a union in 2004, down from 13.5 percent in 2000, and 20.1 percent in 1983. Is it any wonder? As long as unions attempt to grow membership rolls through coercion and forced dues, workers can be expected to be disenchanted with their “representatives.” People should be free to work in Washington without being forced to pay a third party. It may be time for a people’s initiative for voluntary union membership. Otherwise, the state employees fired in July for refusing to pay union dues may solve Governor Gregoire’s “unsustainable budget” woes.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Democrats’ budget guarantees future “deficit” by Jason Mercier
t’s usually a good thing when state officials tell the truth, but Governor Christine Gregoire’s budget declaration earlier this year was an exception. Gregoire proclaimed her budget was “unsustainable.” Perhaps not wanting to undercut the leadership of the governor, legislative Democrats reinforced her proclamation by adopting a record $26 billion budget—all but guaranteeing a future billion dollar budget “deficit.” The Democrats’ $26 billion budget relies on tax increases, raids of dedicated accounts and other onetime budget gimmicks. It totally ignores the intent of the voter-approved I-601 spending limit. The original I-601 spending limit for the 2005-07 budget was $25.1 billion but Democrats found ways to artificially bump the spending limit up by nearly a billion dollars to satisfy their spending appetite. (Democrats also passed a bill which guts the I-601 spending limits for the next biennium.) This budget also leaves a reserve fund of less than one percent, leaving the state ill-prepared to deal with any unforeseen emergencies, such as another earthquake or incident at Mt. St. Helens. Will of the people? Perhaps one of the more intriguing aspects of the Democrats’ tax-and-spend budget is whether or not it reflects the “will of the people.” As previously mentioned, Democrats were forced to resort to creative budget gimmicks to artificially increase the voter-approved spending limit. In acknowledging the Democrats’ spending limit increase strategy, Rep. Eileen Cody told a House Appropriations hearing on March 24 that the spending limit adjustments were “necessary in order to live within the very narrow constraints of our state expenditure limit.” Rep. Cody went on to say that these spending limit maneuvers were completely legal and should be utilized “until the state has a more meaningful expenditure limit that might be able to accommodate the growth of vital state programs.” A “meaningful” expenditure limit? She must have meant to say one that “won’t get in legislators’ way.” Incidentally, the increase in the voter-approved spending limit was deemed necessary to allow Democrats to fund the requirements of another voterapproved initiative, this one reducing class sizes. Known as I-728, the class size reduction measure was approved by voters in 2000 based on promises made by former Governor Gary Locke (D) that “I-728 does not raise taxes. I-728 maintains ample reserves and funding for other state services.” Unfortunately for the taxpayer and the supporters of I-728, the state’s billon dollar surplus disappeared in 2001. With I-728’s $800 million drain on the state budget, Democrats decided to dedicate portions of an increased cigarette tax and death (estate) tax to fund part of the cost. Overriding the voter-approved spending limit to fund I-728, however, was totally unnecessary. Democrats were not prevented from raising taxes and spending at
any level they wanted, but, under the law, voters were to be given the opportunity to approve expenditures in excess of the spending limit. By playing budget games, the Democrats simply denied the people their right to reaffirm that the budget actually reflects their priorities. Democrats also failed to adopt the most obvious solution to their I-728 funding crunch. Rather than resort to budget gimmicks to thwart the will of the people, Democrats should have referred the full costs of the “free” education initiative to a vote of the people with a corresponding revenue source. Unfortunately, Democrats didn’t exercise this common sense option. Last year’s failure of Initiative 884, which would have increased the state’s sales tax by a billion dollars a year to fund the provisions of I728 along with other education proposals, may explain why. Besides artificially increasing the voter-approved spending limit, Democrats approved a bill that all but guts I-601’s remaining taxpayer protections. Approved by the House on April 15 of all days, SB 6078 removed the 2/3 vote requirement for the legislature to raise taxes during the 2005-07 biennium and redefines the spending limit growth factor to allow state spending to grow at a faster pace than previously authorized. This allowed Democrats to raise taxes with a simple majority vote and without any Republican support. Fiscal watchdogs bark Along with the concerns we’ve expressed, Washington’s other watchdogs have also weighed in on the Democrats’ record $26 billion budget. “It is outrageous the legislature raised taxes in adopting its unsustainable budget. We do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem,” said Jamie Daniels of Freedom Works. “There is no need for higher taxes; there is a need to curtail spending, prioritize, and invest in targeted programs that work. The voters overwhelmingly rejected new taxes with the defeat of I-884 on the November ballot, and nothing has been done since then to restore their confidence in state spending accountability.” Dann Mead Smith, president of the Washington Policy Center, agreed: “Simply taking more tax money from citizens won’t help, but thorough budget reform, like spending limits, competitive bidding for government services, and legal safeguards against tax increases, would finally ease the chronic sense of crisis in state finances.” Conclusion Ignoring the voter-approved spending limit and adopting tax increases was totally unnecessary. Had Democrats instead focused on core functions of government and priority-based budgeting to build their budget, Washington taxpayers would not be facing the prospect of additional tax increases to address the future budget “deficit” this spending plan has created.
Election Reform continued from page 2 . . . product. Unfortunately, with the disappointing lack of leadership lately by Secretary Reed’s office, this increased oversight might not mean much. The chief opponents to real election reform in the House so far have been Representatives Kathy Haigh of Shelton, and Sam Hunt of Puyallup. The legislature is also on the verge of passing legislation that will make it easier for mentally handicapped people to vote. Where do election reformers go now? Firstly, they must keep up the pressure on their legislators to support real election reform. Secondly, citizens must keep up the pressure on the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle to launch a federal grand jury to investigate the unmitigated disaster we call the 2004 election. Thirdly,
election reform supporters need to keep up the pressure on their local county auditors to increase transparency and accountability at the local level.
For more information on election reform and the voter integrity project, please visit www.effwa.org/vip or contact Jonathan Bechtel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THEIR OWN
Benjamin Franklin, in “Rules by Which A Great Empire May be Reduced to a Small One,” 1773 .... [B]egin by Laws to perplex their Commerce with infinite Regulations impossible to be remembered and observed; ordain Seizures of their Property for every Failure; take away the Trial of such Property by Jury, and give it to arbitrary Judges of your own appointing, and of the lowest Characters in the Country, whose Salaries and Emoluments are to arise out of the Duties or Condemnations, and whose Appointments are during Pleasure... Convert the brave honest Officers of your Navy into pimping Tide-waiters and Colony Officers of the Customs. Let those who in Time of War fought gallantly in Defense of the Commerce of their Countrymen, in Peace be taught to prey upon it. Let them learn to be corrupted by great and real Smugglers; but (to shew their Diligence) scour with armed Boats every Bay, Harbour, River, Creek, Cove, or Nook throughout the Coast of your Colonies, stop and detain every Coaster, every Wood-boat, every Fisherman, tumble their Cargoes, and even their Ballast, inside out and upside down; and if a Penny’orth of Pins is found un-entered, let the Whole be seized and confiscated. Thus shall the Trade of your Colonies suffer more from their Friends in Time of peace, than it did from their Enemies in War.
Health Care Legislation—How’s it Lookin’? by Cheryl Hymes
n April 13, Governor Christine Gregoire announced, “We face a crisis in this state, and in this nation, with the rising costs of health care.” This is true, but the crisis is not equal in all states due to variations in state laws and regulations. The question elected officials and citizens need to ask is how much of this crisis have we created? The answer is plenty, but there is hope. We can bring more insurance companies and competition to Washington stat, if we have the will to do so. We can reduce medical malpractice insurance rates and address medical litigation excesses. We can erase the sameness of insurance plans by reforming mandated benefit laws. We can and must tackle the cost of state health care programs. Looking at Health Savings Accounts for at least some of our state’s health care subsidized population is the smart thing to do. With citizen action in mind, let’s look at the health care legislation that has emerged in Olympia this session. Here’s an update as of April 14:
Starting with the “good riddance” bills ... Mercifully, one of Governor Locke’s “last request” bills, HB 1088, which would have imposed a new tax on physician services, never made it out of the House Finance Committee. Putting a new tax on medical services is not the way to make health care affordable. Two bills, SB 5637 or HB 1702, known as “Play or Pay” legislation never made it to the Senate or House floors. These bills would have complicated employerbased health insurance and added a new state fee for employers with more than 50 employees who could not afford health insurance benefits. Play or pay legislation has been tried and repealed in California. Such legislation hurts wages and jobs, and is a move toward single-payer health care. Hopefully, it will never return. The sensible little bill ... HB 1685 called for a review of all current Washington state health insurance mandates for the specific purpose of assessing the impact of mandates on the cost of premiums, a sensible action given the annual rates of premium inflation. This bill got parked in the Rules Committee, however. Thank Representative Barbara Bailey for continuing to remind people that mandates are not free. Thank House Health Care Committee Chair Eileen Cody for giving the bill a hearing. The burden of premiums increasing with mandated benefits is not going away. Though HB 1685 is not moving forward in 2005, encourage your legislators to take a look at mandated benefits and the costs they add to health insurance premiums for all consumers. A bill that should have gotten stuck in the Rules Committee ...
SHB 1486 could be dubbed the “tattle-tale bill.” It directs the Health Care Authority to collect employer information on enrollees in the Basic Health Plan who turned down employeroffered health benefits or were referred to the Basic Health Plan by their employers. On an annual basis the names of the employers with employees enrolled in the Basic Health Plan will be reported to the State Legislature. In testimony, the primary bill sponsor, Representative Steve Conway, referred to this annual report as the “hit list.” SHB 1486 passed both the House and the Senate unanimously. No thanks! The government should not be putting the names of employers who have done nothing illegal on a “hit list.” Exciting legislative actions that are supportive of consumer driven health care ... 2SSB 5202 in its original form directed the Public Employees’ Benefits Board to develop a health savings account OPTION for state employees. The Senate passed a version of the bill which required a study of HSAs. The House passed an amendment which removed the study of HSAs and restored the option for state employees who want an HSA plan to be able to have one. The amended House version passed 86-10 on April 8. Then 2SSB 5202 hit a brick wall. The Senate would not concur with the House version. So, despite studies and stories in other states showing the success of Health Savings Accounts in lowering health care premiums, despite health care being a enormous driver of state budget pressures, the Legislature on April 20, axed 5202 and denied Washington State employees the opportunity to establish a tax-advantaged Health Savings Account Plan, if they so desired. Ask your legislators to bring this matter back on the table next year. HB 1286 highlights the success of another consumer driven health care pilot program with state employees who want Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). In 2002, the state offered FSAs to employees of institutions of higher learning. Collective bargaining agreements reached between Governor Gregoire’s Office and the unions representing state employees call for the state to continue the FSA program and make them available to all state employees! (This is in keeping with growing interest in consumer driven health plans among union members nationwide. The Teamsters in California recently negotiated to have HSAs included in benefit options with several employers in April.) Call Governor Gregoire and encourage her to support Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for state employees! Representative Fred Jarrett included a study on Health Savings Accounts for the Basic Health Plan in the state
operating budget. Consumer-driven health care has shown great promise where implemented. Representative Jarrett’s foresight to explore how HSAs could be structured to provide BHP enrollees with quality benefits and tax advantages, and simultaneously help the state reduce the crushing growth of health care expenditures should be applauded. The Medical Malpractice Reform bill... SHB 2292, also known as Plan B, will likely become the third ballot measure to be put before the voters next November on medical malpractice reform (in addition to Initiative 330 supported by the doctors and Initiative 336 supported by the trial lawyers). SHB 2292 does not go far enough in enacting meaningful tort reform of the court system in dealing with medical malpractice lawsuits and controlling costs. The proposed ballot title in SHB 2292 reads, “Improving patient safety, reducing medical errors, reforming malpractice insurance, and resolving medical malpractice claims fairly without imposing mandatory limits on damage awards or fees.” The title does not mention reforming the current court system, which is a rather glaring omission in light of escalating medical liability insurance rates that are due in no small part to the number of frivolous lawsuits and excessive settlements. Another amazing fact from the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner is that almost half of all defense costs in medical malpractice cases end up with $0 in awarded damages. That’s a lot of cases that should not have been brought to court and that drive up costs for all doctors and patients. So what does SHB 2292 propose? It identifies three main legislative intentions: (1) “to prioritize patient safety and the prevention of medical errors above all other considerations”, (2) “to provide alternatives to trials” and (3) To give the Office of Insurance Commissioner more authority and information to regulate medical malpractice insurance rates. The gist of the reforms of SHB 2292 would accomplish the following: Require all medical facilities to report adverse medical events to the State Department of Health within 45 days of the event happening. Fines of $250 per day (up to a maximum of $10,000) may be levied against medical facilities or providers who do not comply with these reporting requirements. Fines of $250 per day (up to a maximum of $10,000) may be levied against medical facilities or providers who do not comply with these reporting requirements. SHB 2292 requires prescription orders to be handprinted, typewritten or electronically generated to reduce errors. It requires insurers to report closed malpractice claims to the Washington Insurance Commissioner. The bill allows for vol-
untary arbitration. SHB 2292 requires attorneys to sign and certify that a malpractice case they have taken on is not frivolous. If an attorney knowingly violates this rule, the court may impose a sanction on that attorney, which may include an order to pay reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the action, counterclaim, cross-claim, thirdparty claim, or a defense to a claim, including reasonable attorney fee. None of these provisions actually reforms the way malpractice cases are handled by the court system. Bottom line, SHB 2292 is light in litigation reform. In contrast, Initiative 330, proposed by the Washington State Medical Association, very clearly addresses the costly litigious issues associated with medical malpractice claims, including reasonable caps on non-economic damages (up to $1,050,000), reasonable limits on attorney fees, making sure awarded monies actually get to the injured patient, and allowing for voluntary arbitration. When you realize that Washington doctors are being hit hard with 25 to 40 percent rate increases for medical liability insurance, you know it’s time for serious medical malpractice reform of the legal system—not just mandating the hand-printing of prescriptions or increasing reporting of adverse medical events to the Department of Health, as SHB 2292 proposes. Between 1998 and 2002, 500 doctors left practices in Washington or retired early. They didn’t leave the state due to medical errors or inadequate state reporting requirements. They were good doctors who decided the soaring malpractice insurance rates were unacceptably high. And the rates are high because of too much expensive litigation. The Legislature should take note that seventeen states, with bipartisan support, have limited non-economic damages in malpractice lawsuits. The result has been to drive down liability costs. California’s medical liability premium rates have fallen 40 percent, and the time needed to settle malpractice claims has been reduced by one-third since limiting non-economic damage awards. In Colorado, malpractice rates that once climbed anywhere from 20 to 70 percent annually, now average 1 to 9 percent in annual increases since enacting medical malpractice reforms on the court trial system. Similar tort reforms are working in Texas and Wisconsin. If reforming the medical litigation system is bringing malpractice costs down elsewhere, it will work in Washington. SHB 2292 simply skirts the issue of litigation reform. When it comes to medical liability reform, Governor Gregoire needs to know you support meaningful tort reform that includes reasonable caps on non-economic damages, which SHB 2292 does not do. Here’s a quick look at the list of new health care laws signed by Governor Gregoire (as of April 14):
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
A quick word on Prescription Drug Bills ... ESSB 5470 seeks a waiver from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so that oversight of drugs imported from Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom can be shifted from the FDA to the Washington Board of Pharmacy. Since these countries export drugs to the U.S. that may have been imported from third world countries, that’s a sig-
nificant public safety, homeland security and regulatory undertaking for a state to take on. That means expanded state bureaucracy by the Board of Pharmacy, which is ill-equipped to handle national security and border issues, in addition to the assessment of quality of drug imports. A Canadian official at a Seattle Health Care Conference in April 2004 told attendees that Canada does not have the infrastructure to inspect drugs
it imports from third world countries and then exports to the U.S.. If other states followed suit, we could end up with fifty mini FDAs, creating a costly regulatory system and a system of fifty varying and inconsistent application processes for newly emerging biotech innovations. That will guarantee higher development costs of new drugs. At a recent Biotech Conference in Seattle on April 7th, these concerns were acknowledged, along
with concerns for patient safety issues. This bill is not about “state’s rights” or even “consumers’ rights.” We must remember that it is a legitimate function of our federal government (through agencies like the FDA) to protect the public and national security by monitoring international commerce across our borders. Nevertheless, ESSB 5470 passed both the House (76-19) and Senate (40-6). SSB 5471 would authorize the Health Care Authority to establish a prescription drug-purchasing consortium that may include private citizens, local governments and other entities. Purchases would be based on the state’s existing evidence-based prescription drug purchasing program. Fees could be imposed on participants. The bill creates an 11-member advisory board. SSB 5471 passed the Senate 25-24 and the House 56-42. This bill expands the role of government in the purchasing of pharmaceuticals on behalf of private sector entities that join the consortium. Why should government purchase any products for the private sector? This bill moves us towards more reliance on government and a “single-payer source” for drug purchasing: the government. 2SHB 1168 authorizes the state Board of Pharmacy to license nonresident Canadian pharmacies. Currently, the Department of Health licenses pharmacies located in Washington State, as well as out-of-state pharmacies in the U.S. that provide services to Washington residents. This bill puts Canadian pharmacies as entities that can be under Washington state licensure authority, too, which introduces foreign price controls into Washington’s market. This bill passed the Senate 33-14 and passed the House 54-41. A new dedicated money account ... ESSB 5599 establishes a central nursing resource center to contribute to the health and wellness of Washington state residents by ensuring there is an adequate nursing workforce to meet the current and future health care needs of the citizens of the state of Washington. It creates a new dedicated account called the nursing resource center account in the custody of the state treasurer, and imposes an additional surcharge of five dollars per year on all initial licenses and renewal licenses for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses for grants. ESSB 5599, which passed the House 931 and the Senate 33-13, expands government unnecessarily. So, there you have it, a quick tour of some of the health care legislation this session. Some good, some not so good. Keep telling your legislators to support consumer-driven health care and to pursue legislation that brings health insurance competition back to Washington state. The free market produced the best health care system in the world, if only it would be allowed to come back. Never give up!
EFF PROFILE :
A LEX BOHLER by Kristen Mercier
wo things you’ll never forget after meeting Alex Bohler, one of the latest additions to the EFF staff: his booming baritone voice and his quick, mischievous sense of humor. He is already an office favorite after only three months here. Those of you attending the Election Reform Task Force hearings across the state have probably already had a chance to meet Alex. He has been Bob’s “right hand man” as an election reform analyst and has enjoyed working at the grassroots level with citizens across the state. As he puts it, “Grassroots volunteers are the backbone of the conservative movement in Washington, as they have been for decades in every other state of the Union. They keep the politicians of both parties honest, and they are not easily manipulated by elected officials or the dominant media elites.” Alex knows what he’s talking about: he has worked in the Washington Legislature, served on numerous federal and state campaign staffs, and was employed as a conservative strategist in Washington, D.C., for four years. He has been a valuable asset to the Voter Integrity Project, and he will soon be using his experience to help in the continuing fight for paycheck protection. Alex will help other states replicate our successful efforts in Washington. Alex also devotes much of his time away from EFF to two political issues: Second Amendment rights and defending America from the onslaught of illegal immigration. He is even helping to start a Washingtonbased group that will fight to defend the integrity of U.S. borders and expose the problem of criminal aliens victimizing law-abiding Americans. A native of the Evergreen state, Alex earned bachelor’s degrees in both International Relations and Middle East History from Washington State University. He did graduate work in Journalism at the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at WSU, where he also taught,
and is a recent graduate of the University of Montana School of Law, where he earned his Juris Doctorate. Alex also served as a criminal prosecutor in eastern Montana, under that state’s student practice rule, trying both misdemeanor and felony cases. For such an intellectual person, you might expect him to be a bit “wonkish.” But Alex always has a great tongue-in-cheek comment to lift our spirits even in the midst of a long, hard legislative session. When asked what he likes about working at EFF, he says, “EFF is an organization that is making a serious impact not only on Washington public policy issues, but on national issues, such as voter integrity and election reform. The staff has a good sense of both rapport and humor, combined with a high degree of professionalism, and an intense hunger to fight the Left. These people are here to make a difference. They are unafraid to take on the liberal status quo. I admire guts.” Speaking of guts, Alex has been sky-diving four times, which he says “keeps him grounded.” He also has a passion for PAC-10 college football. “I never miss a WSU Cougar football game if possible, and try to travel to at least a few away games every season. I’ve even forgiven my father for attending the University of Washington,” he says with a chuckle. He is also a film buff, fond of both mainstream and art-house movies. “I like sweeping, epic, historical films, my favorites being; The Wind and the Lion with Sean Connery and Zulu with Michael Caine and Stanley Baker. I’m also a sucker for a good gangster film.” He also enjoys spending time with his friends and family, hiking, camping, and shooting. With his love for the great outdoors, he is thoroughly enjoying living on the Puget Sound, saying, “Olympia rocks…seriously. This whole South Sound area is tremendously underrated. It’s really a unique community
with interesting cultural and artistic diversity, great restaurants and coffee shops, and amazing access to the Pacific Ocean. It’s also close to some of the premier camping and fishing destinations in the country. Wait a minute, shouldn’t someone from the Tourism Bureau be paying me for this speech?” When asked about his future dreams and plans, Alex has a very down-to-earth approach. “The future will take care of itself. I’m just focused on doing a good job for the staff and membership of EFF, and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest and her gracious people.” “My dream? My dream is for the WSU Cougar football team to dominate the Huskies, without mercy, in the Apple Cup for the next decade!” he adds, laughing. That dream may be a long shot, but we’re glad Alex has decided to stick around in spite of the Husky fans and alumni here in the office. We’re certainly glad to have him here!
VOLUME 15, Issue 5 Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 email@example.com • www.effwa.org Living Liberty is a publication of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation.
Editors: Lynn Harsh Marsha Richards
Publisher: Joel Sorrell EFF’s mission is to advance individual liberty, personal responsibility, and limited and accountable government.
“Quote” of the month
“Maybe a better name for the estate tax bill would be the Tim Eyeman Gainful Employment Act.” — Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial Board