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    Carlyle closes debate for Democrats against constitutional amendment to eliminate majority rule

Carlyle closes debate for Democrats against constitutional amendment to eliminate majority rule

February 12th, 2016|

Sen. Reuven Carlyle closed debate for Senate Democrats in the debate against a constitutional amendment that would require a 2/3rds majority vote to raise taxes. The vote needed a 2/3rds supermajority, or 33 votes to pass. The proposal failed along party lines, 26 to 23.


Lt. Gov. Owen: “Sen. Carlyle.”

Sen. Reuven Carlyle:

“Thank you so much, Mr. President.

“To close debate for those who believe in simple majority as a way to govern this state and this country. Mr. President, I so appreciate the good gentleman, Sen. Dansel raising the issue of our founders, and it’s rare and special that we have an opportunity to actually debate a material constitutional issue that our very founders debated hundreds of years ago. What did they say? What was their premise? What was their debate? Because they had it…it occurred. And here, we their successors in our state, acknowledge that there is a healthy and appropriate adversarial tension between parties, between this chamber and the other chamber, between the executive and the legislative branch, between the state, protected by the 10th amendment particularly and the federal government. That adversarial relationship is critical to representative democracy and to this constitutional republic. So…what did our founders say?

“Mr. President, if I may, Federalist 22, the 2/3rds vote requirement “contradicts the fundamental maximum of republican government, which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.”

This is about the number 17. The entire premise of the proponents of eliminating simple majority rule is that it becomes a higher standard to close a corporate tax preference or rate. But our founders, in drafting the constitution, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, made the explicit case that the power is transferred to the minority. Seventeen members of this chamber have veto power over a policy position. Why is that policy not in the United States Constitution? Why? If they debated it for months? And the answer is because it was in the Articles of Confederation and it was a failure.

“Our founders made this decision and the reason supermajority for policy positions are not in the Constitution is because they learned a profoundly important lesson, and James Madison equated free government with simple majority.

“We have an incredibly important choice.

“This initiative and this bill is written in such a way to ensure that we lock in place in perpetuity 594 existing tax preferences, credits, and preferential rates, and it will be virtually impossible to ever modify them, even modify the date in order to provide support for our paramount duty of public education, mental health care, veteran’s services, nursing homes. We empower a minority of 17 of 147 to have veto power. And the central opposition that Alexander Hamilton had to this was corruption. Outright corruption!

“Our good friends in the state of California had this requirement and they found a range of nefarious and questionable implications. Our paramount duty is public education. We have a wonderful state with a great quality of life for seven million people. This legislation takes 50 percent of the entire ledger and not only makes it untouchable, but it hides it, and it makes it secret. We can’t know who gets a benefit for how much value – to say nothing of ever trying to close it. It’s effectively locking in place the entire revenue structure of the State of Washington.

“I think we’re better than that.

“The people, as is their right, have an important and overwhelmingly powerful voice in every way. And, the good gentleman’s right that all power rests with the people. But we have a constitutional republic for a reason and supermajority empowers the minority of 17 to control one half of the entire ledger of how the people’s money flows…and the special interests couldn’t be more thrilled.

“We’re better than this as a state.

“I ask you to stand for representative democracy and oppose this constitutional amendment.

“Thank you Mr. President.”

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    Carlyle’s government-to-lobbyist ‘cooling off’ bill fails in House and Senate

Carlyle’s government-to-lobbyist ‘cooling off’ bill fails in House and Senate

February 5th, 2016|

A key deadline passed with both House and Senate committees failing to pass legislation—requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson—that would have created a one year ‘cooling off period’ before elected and senior government officials could become paid lobbyists.

The bill would have expanded the existing post-public employment restrictions to include a 12-month “cooling off” period before statewide elected officials, state legislators, other heads of agencies or senior executive staff would be eligible to lobby in the private sector. Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6258, and House Bill 1136 issued the following statement:

“We know how we can better define the line between public service and the private interests. This bill would have helped our state achieve that goal. The post-public service employment limits our state already has in place are a good starting point, however, I believe that we can and must do better to create greater transparency, protections and accountability in the area of government ethics.”

“A 12-month cooling off period is a reasonable length of time to consider and would create a large enough wedge to effectively slow down our state’s current revolving door. Despite having the support of many editorial boards across the state, from Spokane to Everett, and from Olympia to Wenatchee. From Vancouver to Seattle, we had unanimous support and we heard their message loud and clear.

“I am not satisfied with the grade that our state recently received from The Center for Public Integrity, and neither should our taxpayers. Our state received an overall grade of D+ in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation. In individual categories, our state earned a grade of D- for Legislative Accountability. In most classrooms the grade of a D+ or D- would not pass muster. Why should the State of Washington continue to accept an all-but-failing system and not attempt to strengthen our relatively weak post-employment restrictions?

“Our state would not have been the first to adopt legislation of this type. The federal government has adopted legislation approving a cooling off period and more than 33 other states across the country have enacted similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“This bill is not meant to deter former legislators or others from moving on and making a living elsewhere. It is meant to ensure that lawmakers, cabinet secretaries, and other senior staff are not placed into situations where information they were privy to in a previous job can help influence the outcome of their new position. There is great public value in restoring trust in government.

‘I appreciate and respect the work of Attorney General Ferguson and will continue to partner with him until we pass this essential legislation.

“We clearly have more work to do.”

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    Lawmakers call on Sound Transit to clarify key ST3 questions

Lawmakers call on Sound Transit to clarify key ST3 questions

January 28th, 2016|

OLYMPIASen. Reuven Carlyle, Rep. Gael Tarleton, and Rep. Noel Frame, on Wednesday sent a letter to Dow Constantine, the Board Chair of the Sound Transit Board of Directors, urging Sound Transit to clarify information and key project details of Sound Transit 3 (ST3) ahead of any ballot measures asking voters to approve the proposed $15 billion project budget.

One of the main concerns of the lawmakers is that service from Ballard to West Seattle will not be accessible until much later than anticipated. The Ballard community currently has the fastest population growth in the City of Seattle.

“Sound Transit is a critical piece of a fully integrated transportation system for the 21st century,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle. “At the same time, I feel strongly that connecting to Ballard and directly addressing transportation needs to enable long-term growth is absolutely essential. During the process of approving the authority for Sound Transit, it was made clear that Ballard was an essential component of Sound Transit’s success. Now it is time to live up to that commitment.”

During the 2015 Legislative Session, Senate Bill 5987, authorized Sound Transit the authority to ask voters to approve new revenue for financing the multi-billion dollar expansion of ST3. The 36th Legislative District delegation has asked the Sound Transit Board for clarification on several key issues:

  • The reasoning behind any changes to the Long Range Plan and the most recent options for the Ballard to West Seattle corridor.
  • An update on the results of the surveys with ST users and constituents conducted by Sound Transit board and staff, and how Sound Transit is using the results to develop the language for the ST3 ballot measure.
  • An update on the total build out costs, as well as the projected amount and revenue sources that Sound Transit will ask voters to approve.
  • The probability that Ballard will receive light rail service by the proposed date of 2023-25 given increased costs and corridor redesign.

“We appreciate our region’s strong commitment to light rail,” said Rep. Gael Tarleton. “The investments we need to make in Sound Transit 3 will be essential to a vibrant economy for a region that will grow to more than 6 million people in the next 25 years. Ballard is where urban density and thousands of jobs for our middle class come together. We need to get our investments right the first time and I look forward to helping make the right choices.”

The 36th LD lawmakers hope to better understand the details of the project proposal from both a transportation infrastructure perspective and a tax payer accountability perspective ahead of the measure being on the ballot in November.

“What is most important to me is that whatever decisions Sound Transit makes over the course of planning and implementing ST3, the promise of rail in Ballard not be neglected,” said Rep. Noel Frame.


View the letter here: 36th Legislators_ST3

Carlyle gives first speech in the Senate

January 27th, 2016|

On Wednesday, Jan 27, 2016, Sen. Reuven Carlyle gave his first official speech on the Senate Floor.

Traditionally, new members of the Senate offer their colleagues a small gift when they make their maiden speech. For his gift, Sen. Carlyle had Eltana bagels for the members of each caucus to enjoy.

To watch his first speech and the welcome from his Senate colleagues, click here.

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    Seattle Times Editorial: Improve transparency, restore trust in state government

Seattle Times Editorial: Improve transparency, restore trust in state government

January 27th, 2016|

To read this editorial as it originally appeared in the Seattle Times, click here.

Improve transparency, restore trust in state government

Originally published January 26, 2016

Improvements to state ethics rules are needed and shouldn’t die quietly in legislative committee.

By Seattle Times editorial board

WASHINGTON has been highly regarded for the integrity of its state government, but that reputation is slipping.

Even before questions arose about the state Department of Corrections scandal and state employees taking jobs at state-funded startups, The Center for Public Integrity lowered the state’s grade from a B-minus to a D-plus.

Reversing this trend should be a top priority of elected officials, especially those concerned about accountability, fiscal discipline and moral character.

Yet lawmakers in Olympia are — for the second year in a row — stifling efforts to strengthen state ethics rules.

A proposal championed by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, would expand the “cooling-off” period that prevents high-ranking state officials and lawmakers from leaving office and promptly going to work for companies that lobby or contract with the state.

Their effort was prompted in part by revelations that Ferguson’s predecessor, Rob McKenna, was successfully lobbying the Attorney General’s Office for clients Microsoft and T-Mobile.

An equally strong argument for the cooling-off period is the troubling pattern of top state transportation officials taking jobs at Parsons Brinckerhoff, the giant engineering firm and beneficiary of megaprojects, such as Sound Transit’s and the Highway 99 tunnel debacle. The former state transportation chief, Paula Hammond, and the state’s former lead on the viaduct-replacement project, Ron Paananen, both took jobs at Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Ethics rule changes introduced by Carlyle in SB 6258 would require elected officials and senior state employees to wait one to two years before they could lobby or contract with the state. It would also require ongoing public disclosure of their employers if they engage with the state.

That’s just a start to improving transparency, restoring trust and rebuilding Washington’s reputation for public integrity.

Lawmakers should consider broadening cooling-off rules to apply to less senior employees. They also need to close ethics policy gaps that enabled several Department of Commerce employees to join a clean-energy startup funded partly by state grants.

Yet just the modest fixes called for by SB 6258 appear to be withering away in the Senate Government Operations and Security Committee. The bill deserves a public hearing and vote so the public knows where its representatives stand on this issue — before any of them cash in on their government expertise and contacts.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Brier Dudley, Mark Higgins, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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    Plaintiffs Frockt & Carlyle: Ruling tossing out I-1366 best for Washington governance

Plaintiffs Frockt & Carlyle: Ruling tossing out I-1366 best for Washington governance

January 21st, 2016|

After Thursday’s announcement of the King County Superior Court’s decision striking down Initiative 1366 in its entirety, Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, and Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling ensures that the legislature will continue to have at its disposal every tool it needs to govern effectively and equitably on behalf of the people of Washington,” said Frockt. “It is my sincere hope that the matter has now been settled.”

“The integrity of our constitution is precious,” said Carlyle. “The super-majority rule allows 17 of 147 legislators to control the entire budget. We can now move forward together in a constructive way to both respect the will of the voters and protect our constitution.”


Carlyle appointed, sworn in to represent 36th LD as Senator

January 8th, 2016|

SEATTLE – Reuven Carlyle was appointed by the King County Council to serve as the Washington state senator for the 36th Legislative District. Following the confirmation of the appointment on Thursday, Carlyle was immediately sworn into office.

“I am honored to accept this appointment,” said Carlyle. “I am fortunate to serve one of the most educated, engaged and progressive legislative districts in our state. I believe we must work to continue to improve the quality of life for all Washingtonians by addressing the serious policy issues holding us back. I have enjoyed representing the people of the 36th as their state representative and look forward to serving them in the Senate.”

Carlyle was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in 2008, and served during a time of unprecedented budget deficits brought on by the Great Recession. Despite these challenges, Carlyle earned a reputation as a leader who championed innovative public policies representing the values his constituents and state.

In the House, Carlyle sponsored legislation that improved foster youth programs, provided low cost open textbooks to college students, called for public transparency to the state’s unfair tax code and policies, protected the environment, connected our state’s community and technical colleges with four-year universities, fought for individual civil liberties, and helped craft responsible state budgets that help support our state’s one million public school students.

In the Senate, Carlyle will serve on three committees — Higher Education, Trade & Economic Development, and Transportation.

“I’m very pleased to welcome now Sen. Carlyle,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson. “His knowledge of the issues and passion for public service are well known. He will be a great addition and an asset as we continue to fight for people in our state.”

Carlyle grew up in Bellingham and has a Master in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Carlyle and his wife, Wendy Carlyle, M.D., have four school-age children and are active in Seattle public schools along with numerous community groups in the 36th District and Seattle.