Jan. 16, 2015

Dear constituents —

We’re off and running as the 2015 legislative session begins.

 Honoring former Governor Dan Evans

At the outset, I would like to report that on Day 3, Wednesday, January 14, the Senate honored former Washington State Governor, former President of The Evergreen State College, and former U.S. Senator Dan Evans, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of his inauguration as Governor. I was a key organizer of this occasion.

I encourage you to read the Floor Resolution we adopted which recognizes many of his major achievements. A spontaneous standing ovation took place immediately upon the conclusion of its reading. I gave one of the two speeches in support of the resolution. I encourage you to watch the video of the occasion, which includes his fascinating account of events surrounding his swearing in as Governor, as well as some well-stated advice to the Legislature. The full video of the day’s event is about 30 minutes long. Click on the photo to play.

In the afternoon, he visited The Evergreen State College, where they honored him for his strong, effective leadership there as their second President. In addition, Governor and Mrs. Inslee gave him a tour of the Governor’s Mansion, so he could see the changes that have occurred, and show it to his grandchildren.

Gov. Evans and Sen. Fraser Gov. Evans

Opening Day — Routines and Surprises

 With his customary precision, at exactly noon, Monday, January 12, Senate President Brad Owen gaveled to order the 64th Legislature. (This designation applies to the two-year period incorporating the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions.)

Normally, Opening Day is full of routine, as new and returning members are sworn in, officers of the Senate are elected, rules of procedure are adopted, and committee memberships are assigned.

 This year, however, amidst the routine, there were


 First, the election of a new President Pro Tem.

The President Pro Tem serves as the Senate’s presiding officer when the President of the Senate is unavailable. On a 25-24 vote, the Senate elected Senator Pam Roach (R-Auburn) to this position. All Democrats and two Republicans voted for her. She is the most senior member of the Senate, and it is the most customary practice of the Senate to select this person for this position. The second candidate, who received the 24 votes (all Republican), was Senator Tim Sheldon, from the 35th Legislative District, who served in this position during the last two years.

Second, we didn’t approve ALL Senate committee assignments.

I cannot remember that this has ever happened before. Instead, we approved all committee assignments except for the Senate Rules Committee. The proposal for that Committee has to be revised to reflect the surprise election of Senator Roach to the position of President Pro Tem. Per long-standing Senate rules, the President Pro Tem serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

Next week, we will probably adopt the new Rules Committee membership.

Third, the majority of the Senate voted to approve a new rule requiring a 2/3rds vote in order to bring a “new taxes” bill to a vote. It was proposed by the Republican Leadership. I certainly voted NO:

  • It unnecessarily limits the range and creativity of policy options we can consider during this exceptionally difficult session—with its many court and citizen initiative mandates affecting us.
  • It deters those Majority party members (mostly Republican) who might like to compromise with Minority party members (Democrats) from doing so to reach “middle ground” compromises.
  • It’s undemocratic.
  • It has the effect of “locking in” our regressive and out-of-date revenue system, the most regressive in the nation—making it nearly impossible to find better options than merely raising sales and B&O taxes.

My role this Session

I continue to serve as Senate Democratic Caucus Chair.

Other Senate Democrat top leaders are:

  • Caucus Leader — Senator Sharon Nelson, representing Vashon and Maury Islands and West Seattle
  • Deputy Caucus Leader — Senator Andy Billig, of Spokane
  • Caucus Floor Leader — Senator Christine Rolfes, of Kitsap County.

My committee assignments:

  • Senate Ways and Means Committee (I’m a long-standing member)
  • Senate Committee on Accountability and Reform (A new committee this Session)
  • Senate Rules Committee
  • Senate Facilities and Operations Committee (the Senate’s administrative committee)

My most important job is to represent YOU.

Please let me know your opinions on any matter before us. My contact information is:

  • Karen.fraser@leg.wa.gov
  • Hotline phone: 1-800-562-6000
  • Office phone: 360-786-7642
  • Address: P.O. Box 40422, Olympia, WA 98504-0422

I look forward to continuing to hear from you,

Karen Fraser