Voter Guides… with a Twist!

Hopefully you have already marked your calendar on Tuesday, Nov. 4 as Election Day!  Washington State ballots will be mailed out next week. That means it’s time for all of us to support candidates who share our values. Our Voter Guide, which you can find at  www.WashingtonVoterGuides.com,is designed to do just that.

This Free Voter Guide is an non-partisan evaluation of candidates and a detailed summary of important information that will help inform you on where the candidates stand on important issues like religious liberty, marriage, and life.

It also tells you who has endorsed them and who is funding their campaigns.

Here is how to get your Free Voter Guide:

  1. Visit www.WashingtonVoterGuides.com
  2. Enter your address
  3. Search your personalized voter guide.

That all sounds pretty typical, right? Whats the twist?

For the first time, our voter guide is now available by text. That’s right, you don’t even need your computer. Just text your zip code to 77039 and within seconds you’ll have a copy of the voter guide on your phone.

Making an informed vote has never been easier.

Also, make sure you have your Vote Finder account as well and have at least 10 people on your list of pro-family voters that you’re going to encourage to vote. Vote Finder will tell you if their ballot has been received before the election is over. That way, you can encourage your friends who have not yet voted to get their ballots in.

Your friendly reminder to your friends could change the direction of our state.

After all, 78 voters in Vancouver changed the last two years in Washington State.

Be sure to share our Voter Guide on Facebook and Twitter as well!

These resources have made possible by the support of friends like you. You can support these voter education efforts here.

Vote Finder

The Family Policy Institute of Washington has been working to protect marriage, life, religious freedom, and parental rights in Washington State for seven years.

Today might be our greatest moment.

There are no elections and no legislative debates.  But today we are launching the tool that could change all the elections and legislative debates to come.

Today we introduce FPIW’s Vote Finder.

 

Vote Finder gives every pro-family voter in Washington State the ability to do something that has never been possible before.

You can find out if someone has turned in their ballot…before the election is over.  If you knew that your conservative friends, children, or co-workers simply hadn’t gotten around to voting, wouldn’t you like to know so you can remind them before it’s too late?

Now you can.

Vote Finder is easy.  It’s so easy my mom can use it to create a personalized list of friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, and church members.

Vote Finder provides you with two critical pieces of information.

First, we’ll tell you if they are a registered voter or not.  If they are not, Vote Finder and provide a shockingly easy way to get them registered if not.

Second, we will provide daily updates about whether or not they have turned their ballots in…before the election is over.

In fact, you can upload a list of everyone in your church at once. As long as you have first names, last names, and street addresses, within seconds we can tell you if they are registered and if they have turned in their ballots.

On the Sunday before the election, pastors can upload their church list, congratulate those who have already voted, and give a friendly reminder to those who haven’t.

How cool is that?

The leadership in the Washington State Senate changed over the last two years because of 78 votes in Vancouver.

Since 2008, 14 races have been decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.

In 2010, a state legislative race in Puyallup was decided by 37 votes.

Close elections are common and they often end up in the election of people with very different worldviews simply because lots of people who think like we do never got a friendly reminder to turn in their ballots.  There are no more excuses.

But there is a catch…

People have to use it.

If it’s just my mom and I using it…well, we know for sure that our family will vote.  But that may not be enough to create the kind of change we want.

Vote Finder will only be as powerful as the number of people using it.

So we need all of you to create an account and find 10, 15, or 30 friends who will vote the right way. Then make sure they do.  And if you find they aren’t registered because they moved recently…well by all means get them registered.

The “Invite Users” button in Vote Finder makes it simple to invite other people to do  their part as well.

Before you know it, tens of thousands of pro-family ballots will be turned in that otherwise would have found their way to a landfill. So do your part to save the planet and make sure your friends turn in their ballots.

What are you waiting for?  Sign up.

If we all do our part, this could be the best thing we’ve ever done.

 

Primary Election Update

The primary election has come and gone, but the results are still coming in. Looking at what we already know, there is a good chance that there will be changes to our state government, particularly in the Senate.

During the 2014 session, the House was made up of 55 Democrats and 43 Republicans, and the Senate was made up of 24 Republicans to 25 Democrats. In the Senate, two Democrats caucused with the Republicans to create the Majority Coalition Caucus, made up of 26 members to the Democratic Caucus of 23. Even though the Democrats outnumbered the Republicans by one seat, the Majority Coalition Caucus took control of the Senate.

If the results from the primary hold, the House Democrats will gain one seat, giving the Democrats 56 seats and the Republicans 42 seats. The Senate Republicans will gain a seat as well, giving the Republicans an elected majority with 25 Republicans to the 24 Democrats.  However, the Majority Coalition Caucus would retain its 26-23 majority assuming Democrat Rodney Tom’s seat (who caucused with the Republicans) would go to Democrat Cyrus Habib who is not expected to caucus with the Republicans but Democrat Tracy Eide’s seat would go to Republican Mark Miloscia.

Of course, primary results do not guarantee general election outcomes.

 Here are some highlights from the primary:

26th Legislative District

Representative Jesse Young (R) is running against Bill Scheidler (R) and Nathan Schlicher (D) to keep his seat in the House. Schlicher currently leads the race with 47% of the votes while the combined votes for Republicans is at 53%. Because Scheidler came in third during the primaries, he will not be going on to the general election. However, if in the general election, those who voted for Scheidler vote for Young, he could get the votes he needs to stay in office.

 28th Legislative District

Senator O’Ban (R) is leading with 56% over his challenger, Representative Tami Green (D) with 44%. This is a wide margin, given the fact that this is a targeted campaign by the Democrats to get Senator O’Ban out of office.

30th Legislative District

In the 30th legislative district, Senate candidate Mark Miloscia (R) came out with 57% of the votes followed by his opponent is Shari Song (D) with 43%. Miloscia had previously served as a Representative for the 30th district as a Democrat. Now running as a Republican, Miloscia’s election could give the Senate Republicans an elected majority, assuming the remaining Republicans hold their seats.

35th Legislative District

Incumbent Tim Sheldon (D) is running against Irene Bowling (D) and Travis Couture (R) in the 35th legislative district. The votes went in favor of Democrat candidate Irene Bowling with 35% of the votes, then to Sheldon with 33%, and finally Couture with 32%. Most observers expect Sheldon to receive the majority of the votes cast for Couture, during the general election. Based on past elections, Sheldon has been elected with strong majorities.

44th Legislative District

In another hotly contested race, Senator Steve Hobbs (D) leads challenger Jim Kellett (R) by 53%-47%. In addition to the 44th legislative district being a swing district, this race is significant because Senator Hobbs has been the prime sponsor of the Abortion Insurance Mandate Bill which has come up in the last three sessions. This mandate would force employers to cover abortion insurance for their employees, even if the employer is against abortions.

48th Legislative District

Representative Cyrus Habib (D) is leading the race at 64% to Michelle Darnell’s (R) 36%. Both are running to take the Senate seat left open by Senator Rodney Tom. Along with Tim Sheldon, Tom was the other Democrat senator who worked with senate Republicans during this past session. However, Senator Tom’s term is up this year and is not seeking re-election.

Congressional Races

On the federal level, Congresswoman Susan DelBene (D) is leading the race for 1st congressional district with 52% of the votes, followed by Pedro Celis with 16%. The race for the second place has been very close. Presumptive frontrunner Pedro Celis (R) had been trailing Robert Sutherland (R) by a couple hundred votes for the first few days following the election. However, Celis has made up the difference in votes and now is over 800 votes ahead of Sutherland (15%).

In the 4th congressional district, Clint Didier (R) leads with 31% of the votes, and is followed by Dan Newhouse (R) with 26%. Both candidates are seeking to fill the seat vacated by Congressman Doc Hastings, who is not seeking re-election.

There are many races that will help or hinder the fights for life and families. Some might give the Republicans or Democrats more control and others will just be interesting to watch. Either way, stay informed with what is going on during the election and be a part of change in Washington.

For more results on other races, click here.

Government: Arbitrator of Truth

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, a case being referred to as the “right to lie” case.

The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) is a national pro-life advocacy group that is actively involved in political campaigns.

Steve Driehaus is a former Congressman from Ohio who was one of a handful of pro-life Democrats who eventually voted for Obamacare after allegedly getting concessions from the President ensuring that no federal funds would be used for abortion.

At the time, pro-life organizations, including SBA, were outspoken in their belief that the agreement would not actually stop federal funds from being used for abortion.

Upset by his vote, SBA attempted to put up billboards that said “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion” during his 2010 reelection campaign.

However, before the message was ever put on the billboard, Driehaus threatened to sue both SBA and the billboard company under an Ohio law that makes it a crime to knowingly publish false statements about a political candidate. As a result, the billboard company refused to publish the advertisements.

The response from SBA was, “It’s not false!”

SBA believes that the federal subsidies for state insurance plans that cover abortion is, itself, paying for abortion.

That is a defensible position.

On the other hand, the President did sign an executive order stating that federal funds would not be used for abortion, and Driehaus did not vote for Obamacare until that was done.  

Driehaus doesn’t think he voted for taxpayer funded abortion, but SBA list thinks he did.

Should the Government be able to prohibit SBA from making their argument because they have agreed with Driehaus that it isn’t true?

The legal question in the case is whether the state of Ohio can decide when something is a “lie” or not and prohibit that message from being communicated as a result.

The policy question is, perhaps, just as significant.  

As the left becomes increasingly hostile to the free exchange of ideas, we are seeing an increasing fondness for policies that prohibit the expression of certain viewpoints.

They try to end debate by claiming there is no debate. They have convinced themselves that their opinion is not an opinion at all but fact.

In 2010, legislation was introduced in the Washington State legislature that would have created legal penalties if pro-life pregnancy resource centers distributed information they determined to be “medically and scientifically inaccurate.” 

It was designed to stop them from saying things like, “abortion has been linked to breast cancer” or “abortion can lead to higher rates of depression, alcoholism, or drug use.” 

Because abortion industry supporters disagree with those statements, they want to make it illegal to say them.

Three years prior, in 2007, Washington State passed a law taking away a school district’s authority to choose abstinence based sex education using the same “medically and scientifically accurate” justification.  Essentially they said, “you school boards are required by law to give children the information we think they should have because we are right.” 

Of course, it is often the job of government to make a decision about a subject on which people disagree. There will be an income tax or there will not be an income tax. Whatever the decision, someone will be unhappy.

But in these cases, the purpose of the policies are to prohibit certain people from expressing themselves under the guise of “consumer protection” or “free and fair elections.”

But who will oversee the overseer?   

Giving government the power to prohibit the expression of certain views simply because they are “lies” is particularly troubling when government, as it often is, is such an active participant in the underlying debate. 

It is an advantage if one team has the ability to call a penalty on their opponent.

We’ve all been in situations where two people looked at the same set of facts and reached opposite conclusions. 

Does that mean someone is lying?  No. 

Perspective matters and none of us are without bias.  Our experiences shape our beliefs about what is true and what isn’t.

A law prohibiting lying in a political campaign sounds wonderful.

None of us wants to be lied to.

We even snicker gleefully at the possibility that such a law might end political advertising altogether.

But we should all be skeptical about giving anyone the power to silence another’s message by simply attaching the label “lie” or “medically and scientifically inaccurate” to it. 

The real world is unfortunately messy.  There are dishonest people.  Lots of them.  

Freedom is inefficient and it provides opportunities for abuse. But it’s better than the alternatives.

Governments that create policies specifically to control what messages can be communicated don’t usually produce great results for the people.

Note: After the billboard company refused to place their ads, SBA list put the same message on the radio. Driehaus lost his re-election bid. 

78 Votes Made All the Difference

Late last Thursday night, the 2014 Washington State legislative session ended.

The last two years were historic because of the formation of a bi-partisan majority coalition that was formed when two Democrats joined with the Senate Republicans to take control of the state Senate.  As a result, the leadership of the Senate was taken away from downtown Seattle to more moderate leadership.

 This changed everything.

Without this coalition in place, it is likely that the Abortion Insurance Mandate would be law, taxpayers would be funding telemed abortions as well, and minors who want professional help with unwanted same-sex attraction would be prohibited by law from getting it.

These bills were not defeated because of a socially conservative majority in the Senate, but because the Majority Coalition agreed to table debates over controversial social issues so they can focus on legislation affecting jobs, budgets, and transportation.

It was an issue of prioritization.

But it wasn’t just social issues that were affected.

Debates over tax policy, immigration, gun control, transportation, and education were all significantly impacted by the fact that the leadership in the Senate had changed.

Still, the move from a majority that prioritizes special interest legislation on behalf of the abortion industry to a majority that doesn’t is progress.

When progress happens in the legislative arena, it is helpful to step back and ask how it came to be.

Was it an accident?  Stroke of good fortune?  The result of an actual plan?

In 2012, FPIW Action targeted more than 4,000 pro-family households in each of 5 legislative districts to educate them about the positions of candidates on their ballots.

In one of those races, conservative Vancouver Senator, Don Benton, won re-election by 78 votes.

If 79 people had decided not to vote, or if 40 people had voted a different way, the last two years in Olympia would have been very different.

78 voters in Vancouver made all the difference.

But that hand has been dealt and played now. The session is over.

Every seat in the House of Representatives, and half of the Senate, is up for election.

And as is the case every year, the outcomes of the swing races in Washington will be decided by margins of 500 to 1,500 votes.  In some cases, as we saw in Vancouver in 2012, the outcome might be only 78 votes.  In 2010, Representative Hans Zeiger won his race in 2010 by 47 votes.

If you are encouraged by the fact that Olympia no longer rubber stamps everything the abortion industry sends their way, remember why that is. It wasn’t an accident.  It was a result of a deliberate effort to educate people who share our value system in targeted areas to make an informed vote.

Next time, it might be 50 or 100 people in your neighborhood that make the world a better place simply by filling out a ballot.

The fact that so many critical policy decisions are effectively made in November is the reason our work at FPIW doesn’t slow down once the legislative session is over.

Beginning, Monday, March 31, FPIW will launch its “Interim of Engagement” campaign, a monthly mobilization itinerary of grassroots activities and action items you can do to continue making a difference during the interim.

Those same friends who made the phone calls, attended legislative hearings, met with their legislators, and wrote emails during the legislative session will now be helping us to educate about the issues, register voters, inform voters, and get their friends to do the same.

Who knows, the 79 voters who are going to make all the difference next time may be reading this email.

Put It All Together…

The news connected with same-sex marriage and its various subplots seems to develop more quickly than it can be responded to.

You probably know by now that A&E has suspended Phil Robertson, one of the stars of its most successful show ever, Duck Dynasty, over comments he made about homosexuality to GQ Magazine.

In a related local story, Eastside Catholic High School dismissed its vice-principle for violating church teaching and his contract after they became aware that he had become part of a same-sex “marriage”.

Both stories were met with outrage.

People came to Robertson’s defense, not simply because they share his perspective, though many do, but because they believe America should still be a place where people can disagree openly without fear of retribution.

At Eastside Catholic, students walked out in protest and were reportedly chanting “Change the Church”.

Regardless, the result was that people on different sides of a controversial issue were protesting for similar reasons. They felt someone was dismissed from their job for reasons that were unjust.

But there are key differences as well.

The most obvious difference is that one involves a church and the other a TV station. That is legally significant.

But the most significant difference lies in how each side is likely to engage this issue over time.

Those protesting A&E don’t like the decision to suspend Robertson.  Many are likely fans of the show, but many are concerned about the growing number of cases involving people who have had their livelihood interfered with because of their beliefs about marriage.

Perhaps they’ll stop watching A&E or make a phone call, but so far I have not heard anyone argue that A&E shouldn’t be able to suspend or fire people who say things they dislike. They just want to mobilize public opinion in such a way that they’re discouraged from doing so.

The left, on the other hand, employs different tactics.  They have shown a repeated willingness to not simply leverage public opinion to encourage people in a certain direction, but to leverage the law to punish anyone who don’t move quickly enough; particularly when the issue involves homosexuality or same-sex “marriage”.

They’re suing floristsfining photographers, shutting down the businesses of bakeries, reprimanding judges all because they don’t feel comfortable being part of same-sex “wedding” ceremonies.

Sadly, the left and the right can be distinguished not simply by their differing perspective on a number of issues but also by their  willingness to use police powers rather than persuasion to achieve the desired outcome.   That wasn’t always the case. Liberals used to be liberal.

It’s true that the law gives religious institutions more latitude than secular institutions to make decisions about issues like homosexuality that are consistent with their churches teaching.   Churches can hire and fire in ways that tire stores cannot…for now.

But we should be concerned with how long they will tolerate these ghettos of hate.

The New Mexico Supreme Court, in upholding a $6,600 fine against a photographer who did not want to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony, said that being forced to do things that violate your conscience is the “price of citizenship.”

Meanwhile, the homosexual lobby is evolving.  They are apparently theologians in addition to being advocates.

In their statement responding to Robertson’s comments, the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said “Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe.”

As silly as that statement is, it is important because it speaks to their state of mind.  It would appear that for them, people opposed to homosexuality on religious grounds aren’t actually exercising religion because that’s not true Christianity.  So what’s the harm in restricting the practice of that “fake, bigoted religion”?

Put it all together and you have a group chanting “Change the Church” that forces people to violate their conscience is the “price of citizenship” and believes it is in the position to dictate what “true Christians” believe.

In fact, just today a same-sex “marriage” bill in New Jersey is being stalled by its supporters because it contains language protecting religious freedom.

Perhaps this all sounds a bit conspiratorial.  One story from here, another story from there, all designed to paint the picture that the sky is falling.  I get it.  I’m generally inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt as well.  But ask yourself, when was the last time you were pleasantly surprised to see the gay lobby decline to take away someone’s freedom to do something they don’t like when they had the chance?

I can’t think of anything either.  Sure, there are refreshing individual exceptions, but this is not a movement that has built itself by putting up with diverse perspectives.

If they didn’t have so much political influence we would simply call them “misguided”.  But since they do, they test our resolve to be free people.

Your contribute of $5 or more will help us protect conscience rights and religious freedom in Washington.

Relationship Lessons from Obamacare

 The challenging roll-out of the ironically named Affordable Care Act has been well documented.Needless to say, things haven’t gone according to plan.  Not only is it hard to sign up for, it appears that the average family isn’t going to save $2,500 a year on health care premiums, some of the best hospitals aren’t covered, and lots of doctors won’t accept those who are covered by it. And, you can’t necessarily keep your health insurance if you like it.The President is paying the price politically.  His approval ratings are now in the 30’s and it appears that “leg tingle” is now an itch.But he really shouldn’t be surprised.  None of us should.

The way Obamacare became law all but guaranteed that, unless it was executed perfectly (and really when does that happen?) it was going to damage his relationship with the American people.

That isn’t a political statement, it’s a recognition of the fact that there are rules that govern relationships-including political ones.

Before we get too self-righteous, many of us guys have taken our own relationships down a similar path.  That’s why the divorce rate is what it is.

We dress the part, use the focus group tested messages, and tell her everything we know she wants to hear because we just can’t stand the thought of being without her. And then we win.  We put a ring on it.  Yes!

And there’s always a honeymoon phase before the complications arise. It turns out that she actually remembers all those promises we made during the campaign, err…while we were dating.  Even worse, she actually expects us to do it!

It’s kind of hip to be hard on the President these days, but let’s face it, many of us aren’t any better at home.   So here are a few lessons from Obamacare that may help keep that leg tingling for that special someone in your life.

1.     Don’t hide the inconvenient facts:  It is perhaps the defining statement of his Presidency.  “If you like your health care you can keep it.  Period.”  But it wasn’t true and there is significant evidence to suggest he knew it wasn’t true.

But how often do we omit relevant information or “spin” the facts in the way that we think will make things easier in the short-term?  The problem with this strategy is that the short-term is going to come to an end, shortly.  And then you’ll have to deal with the fact that people don’t trust you. It’s not worth it.

2.     If you can’t share the credit, you can’t share the blame: There are lots of benefits to making decisions together, but the ability to share responsibility when things go wrong is one that is often over looked.  This is important because things go wrong-a lot.

One of Obama’s challenges with ObamaCare is that he is entirely responsible for it. It has his name on it, literally.  It would be helpful for him at this point to be able to solicit help from all the Republican members of Congress who also voted for it.  But he can’t because there aren’t any.

Yes, it’s fun to be able stand up in front of your wife and say “I did that.”  But it may not be worth the risk of having to stand in front of her, while she looks at you with one eye-brow raised as if to say “You did that?”

3.     You can’t maintain a lasting relationship with someone if you view them as an adversary: It’s fair to say that the rhetoric on both sides of the Obamacare debate sometimes became less than civil.  Those who supported ObamaCare were communists and those who opposed it wanted sick people to die and go bankrupt in the process.

Many arguments with our spouses work in much the same way.  If we men try to resolve a particular conflict by shaming our wives into giving up, the chances of them working cooperatively with us later aren’t awesome.

Conflict is inevitable, but making enemies is not.  It is not only possible to assume the best about your spouse in the midst of conflict, it should be expected.

4.     Understanding is demonstrated by actions, not words: Yes, the President had health care summits that were highly publicized and highly politicized.  But at the end of the day, none of the proposals offered by more conservative voices in Congress were included in the final version of ObamaCare.

I shouldn’t expect my wife to feel understood simply because I sat politely while she expressed herself.  If my behavior or decisions don’t reflect an understanding of what she feels, it won’t matter.

Of course it isn’t always possible to give people what they want and it’s important to be able to act like adults when we don’t get our way.  But when you face the prospect of winning through force rather than consensus, take a moment and consider which is most important: the person or the issue.  If the person is more important, that may not be the way you want to win.

It is possible to lose even when you win.  Just ask the President.

There is a qualifier to all of this. If you don’t care to maintain a healthy relationship with the person you’re dealing with, by all means push as hard as you can until you get your way.

You may accomplish everything you ever set out to do, but you’ll likely leave a trail of broken relationships behind you.  Life will come to an end for all of us eventually. I pity the man for whom, at the end of his life, the best thing that can be said about him was that he was the winner.

What Americans Can Learn from Veterans

We break from our routine to be thankful to those who sacrificed years of their lives, and in some cases their health, in service to our country.  I hope each of us takes the time to thank someone who served.  But as we do, I hope we take a moment to think beyond the person and consider what it is about service to our country that we admire.

The pledge of allegiance isn’t actually allegiance to a flag-a piece of cloth arranged in a particular way-it is allegiance to a set of ideas we share. In the same way, it isn’t just their legal status as a “veteran” that we honor, but the values that their example represents.

Through their service, veterans teach us lessons that are instructive to all of us if we allow them to be. Lessons like:

  1. Do what needs to be done, even if it’s not fun. A lot of veterans didn’t want to serve. But they didn’t lie or run away to Canada.  Our freedoms would never have been won and will never be defended by people primarily interested in being comfortable.  We honor veterans because they understand the importance of doing the right thing even when it’s not fun.
  2. Consider how your actions will affect the next two centuries, not the next two days. America today suffers from an inability to think about the long-term consequences of our actions.  We create budgets based on our upcoming election rather than the best interest of the next generation.  We make decisions about our marriages based on how happy we feel at the moment rather than how our children will be impacted.  We honor veterans because they risked their own future so that ours would be better.
  3. Believe in something bigger than you.  In our private moments, most of us know ourselves well enough to understand that we aren’t that impressive. If we live our lives for the goal of being respected, having success, and making enough money to retire, we’ll never be satisfied.  We honor veterans because they demonstrate that giving yourself to something bigger than you is not only satisfying but it changes the world for the better.
  4. Rights have corresponding responsibilities. Everybody today wants to talk about their rights.  We think we have rights to free speech, a living wage job, retirement, personal security, privacy, marriage, divorce, children, health care, etc.., etc…, etc… We are, however, less enthusiastic when we discuss our responsibilities. We honor veterans because through their service they fulfilled the responsibilities that give us the luxury to argue about our rights.

As we honor veterans today, allow the lessons of their example to inspire each of us in whatever “battle” we are engaged in.

Happy Veterans Day.

Improvements in the WA Senate?

In a State Senate race that was one of the most expensive legislative races in Washington State history, Republican Rep. Jan Angel is narrowly leading Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher in the 26th district covering Kitsap and parts of Pierce County.

While only 770 votes currently separate the candidates, that margin is expected to hold.

This was a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Derek Kilmer when he was elected to Congress.

If Angel wins, this result will have significant implications for the balance of power in the State Senate.  It would bring the Republicans within one vote of a majority in the Senate at 25-24.  However, since two Democrats joined with the Republicans in the last session to form a Majority Coalition, this would actually expand the current functional majority to 26-23.

For several years, the dynamic in the state legislature is that the Senate is the place where far left ideas from the downtown Seattle led House of Representatives go to die.  This result will only increase the likelihood of that continuing, at least for one more year.

For example, the abortion industry’s priority legislation, which would force every insurance policy bought and sold in Washington State to cover abortion even if the consumer doesn’t want it, was narrowly defeated in the Senate during the last session. It now appears to have an even tougher road in 2014.  Angel voted against that bill in the House while Schlicher had signed a public letter indicating his intention to support it.

Schlicher, a physician and strong proponent of the Affordable Care Act, was also opposed to a law requiring parents to be notified if their minor daughter intended to get an abortion; an idea Angel supports.

Another bill, giving a third-party a cause of action to get visitation with other people’s children over the objection of the parents, will also find a more difficult path forward as a result of this election.

The difference of 770 votes once again highlights the reality that relatively small groups of people have a significant impact on the public policy for the whole state.

The Majority Coalition that prevented passage of several of these bills in the last session was only possible because Don Benton, from Vancouver, won his Senate race by 37 votes in 2012.

This race was unusual because it also involved a California billionaire, environmentalist dumping hundreds of thousands of his own dollars attacking Angel.  It remains to be seen whether he will be back in 2014 when this seat will once again be up for election-this time for four years.

In lower profile races involving only Republicans, two other special elections for the state Senate were held yesterday as well.

In those races, Sen. Sharon Brown defeated Phillip Lemley for election to a seat she had been appointed to in the 8th district, in Tri-Cities. In the 7th district, covering northeastern Washington, Ferry County Commissioner Brian Dansel defeated Sen. John Smith, who had served one year after being appointed to replace former Sen. Bob Morton.

Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

Does the punishment fit the crime?

This question addresses an issue of proportionality.  Greater offenses should have greater punishments. It wouldn’t be just to punish jaywalking in the same way we punish murder.

In most cases, you can tell how serious an offense is based on the severity of the penalty.

That’s why the penalties built into Obamacare are so curious.

As you know, Obamacare has a number of mandates.  Individuals are required to purchase health insurance and businesses with more than 50 employees are mandated to buy insurance for them.

In addition, the policies that the businesses purchase for their employees must include contraceptive coverage. This has been a point of serious contention for the Catholic Church and businesses like Hobby Lobby that are morally opposed to contraceptives.

Still, businesses are required to buy insurance for their employees and it must cover contraceptives.

Of these two requirements,which is most important?

Another way of asking this question is, will you be punished more severely for providing no insurance at all or for providing insurance without contraceptive coverage?

The answer might surprise you.

If a company does not pay for health insurance for its employees, it is fined $2,000 per employee, per year.  So a company that provided no insurance for 50 employees would be fined $100,000 a year.

However, the fine for purchasing health insurance that does not include contraceptive coverage is $100 per employee, per day, which works out to be $36,500 per employee, per year.  So, if that same company with 50 employees purchased great health insurance for its employees but choose not to purchase contraceptive coverage, they would be fined $1,825,000 a year.

According to the penalties built into Obamacare, providing insurance without covering contraceptives is an offense 18 times more serious than providing no health insurance at all.

That makes sense, right?

Ok, not really.

In isolation, you might chalk this kind of thing up to rushed legislation; a detail missed in the spirit of “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

But it would be irresponsible to view this in isolation.

When you view the bizarre punitive system built into Obamacare with the stories of floristsphotographers,bakers, and nurses, who have all faced legal or professional penalties because of their views about controversial social issues, a theme begins to develop.

The goal is not simply to create the policy they prefer, but to embed within the policy ways to punish those who disagree.

They don’t simply want to allow same-sex couples to get “married”.  They want to close businesses owned by people who disagree with their view on marriage.

They don’t simply want women to have access to abortion and contraception.  They want to make sure every medical professional and business person supports the agenda.

This is why the top priority of the abortion industry in Washington State is a bill to mandate that every insurance policy bought and sold in Washington will cover abortion.  Even though every insurance company in Washington already covers abortion for those who want it, the prospect that someone might choose not to purchase abortion coverage is problematic.

They are frustrated that moral disapproval of abortion lingers despite decades of insistence that it’s just another health care service and, frankly, they don’t want to deal with it anymore.

The goal of creating a world in which everyone thinks like them will never be accomplished if people are allowed to express ideas that are different from theirs.

Because of this, providing excellent health insurance without abortion or contraceptive coverage is actually worse than providing no insurance at all.

That’s why they have to make sure the punishment fits the crime.