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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Vetoes Bills, Calls Special Session

 

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has called a special session in an attempt to encourage the legislature to pass a budget.

The announcement was made immediately following the close of regular session on Thursday night in Olympia.  Earlier in the week, Governor Inslee had said he would veto the bills on his desk if a budget agreement wasn’t reached by the end of session, a tactic that some likened to a “temper tantrum” to achieve passage of his version of the budget.

When it came time to fulfill his promise to veto the bills, Governor Inslee did — well, kind of.  Ten of the 37 bills on his desk were signed into law on Thursday night.  The remaining 27 bills — all bills which had attained bi-partisan support, an accomplishment in itself — were effectively killed with the Governor’s veto.

The list of bills vetoed by the Governor included bills pertaining to services for students with special needs, personal property rights, and several bills pertaining to healthcare and pharmacies.

While some, like Governor Inslee, believe this budget negotiation period should only last a short time, others are less convinced.  Depending on how hard public unions dig their heels in, and how willing or unwilling the legislature is to compromise, it may take a much longer time to pass a budget.

It’s important to note that no legislators can begin raising funds for reelection campaigns until the special session ends. Lawmakers are expected to reconvene to resume budget talks as early as this weekend.

For more updates, follow @FPIW on Twitter and Facebook.

Responding to a Defense of the Bathroom Rule

 

The Washington State Human Rights Commission recently passed a rule requiring all schools and public accommodations, including businesses, to allow people to access locker rooms, showers, and bathroom facilities based on the gender identity or gender expression they claim.

The public’s response to this rule has been significant.

Legislators have reported receiving as many as 1,000 phone calls and emails on this issue.  While legislation to overturn the rule has been introduced in both the House and Senate, some legislators have attempted to defend both the rule itself and the process through which it was enacted and many of you have sent us a copy of their response.

The letters we have received from legislative offices who are supportive of the new rule generally make the exact same points. The following letter from Rep. Laurie Jinkins is a good representation of these responses.  I have included my response to her response, just in case you find that interesting.

Thank you for contacting me about rules that the Washington State Human Rights Commission recently adopted to provide clarity about how Washington law prevents discrimination against transgender people.  I appreciate hearing from you.

As you may know, Washington passed a law in 2006 that provides protection for transgender people against discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation.  Since that law was passed 10 years ago, transgender people in Washington have been able to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Nothing in Washington’s 2006 law changed the fact that separate facilities exist for men and women.  The law allows a person who has undergone or is undergoing gender transition to use the restroom or locker room that matches the gender they live every day.  Nothing in the law or in the adopted rules changes the fact that it is illegal to enter a restroom or locker room to harm or sexually harass people, or to invade their privacy.

This is an attempt to make the argument that the new rule by the Human Rights Commission changed nothing and that this debate actually took place in 2006.  This is false.  When sexual orientation was added to the non-discrimination law in 2006, gender identity and gender expression were not a part of the conversation.  Those pushing to include sexual orientation in the non-discrimination law spoke exclusively about making sure that people didn’t get fired for being gay and making sure that people could visit loved one’s in the hospital.

The reason they didn’t hold a press conference to announce how wonderful it will be when people with a penis can undress in the women’s locker room is because, if they had, the law would not have passed and they knew that.

Many other states, counties, and cities across the country have adopted laws that are similar to Washington’s.  At last count, 17 states and more than 200 cities across the country have passed and successfully implemented such non-discrimination laws, with no increase in public safety incidents.  Under federal law, the U.S. Department of Education has worked to ensure that transgender students are able to use restrooms and locker rooms at school that align with their gender identity.  Additionally, the federal Department of Labor issued guidelines in June 2015 that require employers to offer restrooms and locker room facilities consistent with an individual’s gender identity.

It is true that the federal government threatened to pull funding from a local school district in Chicago unless they allowed a boy to shower in the girls locker room at school.  It is also true that other states have passed laws they claim are aimed at protecting people from being fired for their job while slipping in protections based on gender identity and gender expression. However, when the public understands that the issue is about bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers, they side with privacy and common sense.  Recently, residents of Houston, Texas voted 61-39 to repeal a citywide ordinance that would make all bathrooms and locker rooms accessible to anyone.

As to the Department of Labor’s guidelines…the fact that the federal government does stupid stuff does not require a state to do the same.

The rules recently adopted by the Human Rights Commission do not change Washington’s 2006 law.  Instead, the rules are designed to increase clarity and understanding about the requirements of the law.

As noted above, the public doesn’t believe they had this debate in 2006.   The fact that the public is outraged by these new revelations while the legislature is saying, “Whats the big deal, we did this 10 years ago” means one of two things: either the legislature was being deceptive about what they were doing 10 years ago, or they are being deceptive now.  Regardless of which is true, the public is owed an apology and a remedy.

The agency held four public meetings across the state – starting in 2012 – to receive public input about its plans to issue these rules. In May 2015, the agency publicly proposed the rules, and members of the public were able to provide comments on them, either in writing or at a public hearing that was held in June 2015.  The rules were finalized in November 2015.

In this video, Susan Ortiz, Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission, shines some light on this allegedly “open process.”  She said that the public notice of these meetings was given through the Washington State Code Reviser’s office website.  Raise your hand if you know who the Washington Code Reviser is?  Understandably, the public meetings were “not well attended.”

In addition, they had a one-month public comment period, also posted on the code reviser’s website, where people could submit comments.  She explained that “no one submitted anything.” When pushed, she qualified her initial statement with, “there was a few, so…”

Of course the only reasonable explanation for why they would have received no input on this issue from the public is that the public had no idea it was happening.

All of us, including transgender people, care about safety and privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms.  I understand that there has been confusion and concern recently about what implementation of these non-discrimination regulations means.  However, the experience that we’ve had over the past 10 years in Washington, as well as the experiences in many other places, show that non-discrimination laws and policies can be successfully implemented while upholding the safety of everyone.

I can’t help but believe that everyone involved sincerely cares about public safety.  But the public response is not due to “confusion” about what implementation of the rules means; rather, it is due to how troubling the rule is once clarity about it is reached.

The fact is that sexual predators have been caught pretending to be transgender as a way of gaining access to private spaces. Read about some of them here, here, here, and here.  And that was before the law notified them that they had a right to be there as long as they “identify” or “express” as a woman.

I am also encouraged that many organizations in Washington that advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence have expressed strong support for policies and laws that allow transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

If true, this only demonstrates that people with otherwise good intentions can have their judgment clouded by political allegiances.

Like many other people, understanding transgender issues has been a journey for me as well. While it can be difficult to understand someone whose shoes I’ve never walked in, I know it is not for me to judge.  What I do know is that transgender people often face isolation, singling out, and sadly all too often violence.  As we move forward with our concerns for protecting the safety of our youth and families, we must not vilify transgender people in the process.

Per usual, the argument closes with attempt to make you feel like a bad person if you don’t want naked men undressing next to your daughter at the local swim club.

Of course there are transgender people and they deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that we all do.  But it is not reasonable to demand the entire world forfeit their right to privacy as a way of making them feel more comfortable with their understandably unique challenges.  No one is vilifying transgender people.

If anyone is being vilified, we are vilifying those in our state’s leadership who are so beholden to political special interests groups that they would knowingly ignore the will of the public, create opportunity for those who would harm our children, and sacrifice the privacy of the public in furtherance of it.

Thank you again for contacting me and for your concerns about our community.

No.  Thank you.

You can call your legislators about this or any issue through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or you can email them all at the same time by clicking here.

WA Senate Bill Would Force Businesses to Pay for Contraceptives

 

For three years in a row, an abortion insurance mandate has passed the Washington State House of Representatives but failed to pass in the Senate.

Not to be deterred, a handful of Washington State Senators have renewed an effort to force Washington businesses with conviction about the issue of life and abortion to violate their conscience.

They call SB 6493 the “employee reproductive choice act,” but in effect it simply denies employers the freedom to make choices in their business that are consistent with sincerely held beliefs.

The bill would make it an “unfair practice” for an employer “to fail to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost to the employee.”

The bill, however, does not simply require that an employer provide contraceptive coverage, but that it provide coverage “pursuant to the affordable care act.”

The affordable care act specifically mentions twenty different kinds of birth control an employer must be willing to pay for.  Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts company that successfully challenged the mandate as a violation of federal law, was willing to pay for sixteen of the twenty prescribed forms of the birth control but objected to four of them because of their belief that they would end a life.

Related: Help FPIW challenge these laws and others to protect your freedom!

This bill would deny Washington businesses the protections provided by federal law and require them to pay for specific kinds of contraception that many millions of Americans believe are immoral.

By making it an “unfair practice,” this issue would fall under the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission and the state’s law against discrimination, which could then be enforced by the Attorney General’s office.

Both of these agencies have demonstrated their willingness to be intensely partisan when it comes to interpreting and enforcing the law — particularly when social issues are implicated.

The Human Rights Commission enacted a transgender bathroom policy mandating that all schools and public accommodations make allow their bathrooms to be used based on gender identity or expression.  The controversial new rule effectively allows men access to women’s private spaces so long as they “identify” or “express” their self as a woman.

One of the public meetings that no one knew about—allegedly intended to allow the public to provide comment on the rules before they were finalized—was held at an LGBT support center in Pierce County.

Clearly they were looking for input from a cross section of Washington citizens.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has also demonstrated his willingness to use his office for partisan purposes as well. He not only sued Barronelle Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers for declining to provide floral services for a same-sex wedding but he also filed a lawsuit against rural hospitals to force them to perform abortions rather than refer them.

If passed, this bill would give the Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General the authority to deal with businesses who, like Hobby Lobby, have every desire to be the best employers they can but are unwilling to pay for something they believe will end a human life.

All in the name of ending discrimination.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Health Care committee and has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing. To see which senators are sponsoring this bill, click here.  To track the progress of this bill and other bills of interest, check out our Bill Tracker at the Legislative Hub.  To email your elected officials all at once about this or any other issue, click here.  You can also call your elected officials through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

Transgender Bathrooms and the Real War on Women

 

You’ve heard it before.

Don’t think it’s awesome to abort babies? You’re engaged in a war on women.

Don’t want to pay for someone else’s abortion or birth control? That’s also part of the war on women.

Don’t think a baby should be aborted just because she’s a girl? Somehow, that is also part of the war on women.

Even if a woman is making the argument.

Opposition to abortion is framed as a “war on women” because only women can have babies.

Men can’t be “burdened” with a pregnancy for biological reasons; therefore, it is a matter of equality to ensure that women can’t be either.

Underlying this entire argument is the belief that some issues are unique to women.

In fairness, the fact that women and men are different is something that the left and right have long been able to agree on.

Until now, perhaps.

You may have heard that the Washington State Human Rights Commission (HRC) recently issued a mandate that all schools and public accommodations open up their bathroom facilities based on gender identity rather than biological gender.

Presented as a step toward inclusion for those who experience gender dysphoria, the premise underlying this rule is in direct conflict with everything the left has always said about women and women’s rights.

By issuing this rule, the HRC notified women that “women’s right to privacy” does not extend to public bathrooms.

Women are now being told that it is wrong for them to be uncomfortable if the person in the locker next to them at the local gym has a penis. They’re just supposed to accept that “in his head, he feels just like you.”

If a woman is unable to overcome her prejudice, the mandate requires her to be removed from the locker room so the man won’t feel judged.

This new mandate is not simply a war on an individual woman’s right to privacy in the bathroom, it is a war on womanhood in general. Indeed, the transgender phenomenon is an attempt to force the world to accept that being a woman is nothing more than a feeling.

People are running for President today demanding “equal pay for equal work.”

Volumes of federal and state laws have been written to ensure equal protection for women in every area of civil life.

The federal government and most states have programs designed to help businesses owned by women.

Most universities in America have “Women’s Studies” programs that encourage students to understand issues unique to women.

Then, in that same university, you’ll walk down the hall and see a sign outside the bathroom reminding you that there is nothing—not even anatomy—that is actually unique to women.

So basically, the message is that, “Being a woman is very special. But the really good news is that, anyone can be a woman!”

After all, Caitlyn Jenner was named “Woman of the Year” by US magazine in 2015.

We’ve all heard about the war on women.

And there may actually be one.

But it might be worth revisiting whether it is being waged by those insisting that every baby girl has the right to her first breath, or by those trying to convince you that every man is only an outfit change or plastic surgery away from being part of the sisterhood.

Or maybe I’m just being a man—if there is such a thing.

Follow Joseph Backholm on Twitter for more updates and commentaries.

Bill to Stop Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Introduced in WA Legislature

 

State Representative David Taylor has introduced a bill that aims to restrict public funding for elective abortions.

HB 2294, which has 20 co-sponsors, states that, while “every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions,” that the state “may not provide benefits or services to permit a woman to voluntarily terminate her pregnancy, except when the abortion is medically necessary.”

The bill does not not limit the ability for anyone to receive an abortion, but limits the state’s ability to use taxpayer funding to pay for them.

This effort comes on the heels of uncovered legal and ethical concerns regarding abortion-providing facilities, such as Planned Parenthood, which accepted over $500 million in taxpayer funding in 2014.

Washingtonians are urged to call their State Representatives to share their thoughts on HB 2294.   You can call your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

You can email your legislators about this or any other issue here.

Stay connected with us at www.fpiw.org or at Facebook.com/familypolicy for updates on this and every other issue affecting life, marriage, religious freedom, and parental rights in the legislative session.

Senators Seek to Overturn Hobby Lobby Decision

Last year, one of the biggest developments in the national debate over conscience rights was the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contained a mandate requiring employers to cover twenty specific types of birth control in the insurance plans they purchased for their employees.

Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, objected to four of the twenty forms of birth control on the grounds that they could cause an abortion. As a result, they filed a lawsuit claiming that the mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Supreme Court agreed with them in a 5-4 decision.

In response, a group of State Senators have introduced the Employee Reproductive Choice Act (SB 5026). The bill creates a state version of the mandate which the Supreme Court said could not be imposed by the federal government.

This bill would force every business in Washington to cover twenty specific forms of contraception in the insurance policies, including some that cause abortion.

It was sponsored by every Democrat Senator except Senators Hargrove and Sheldon. (For the past two years, Tim Sheldon has been caucusing with the Republicans).

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, the state likely has the authority to create such a mandate.  Because Washington State does not have a RFRA, and the federal RFRA does not apply to state law, the federal protections are greater than what appear to exist at the state level.

While eighteen states have adopted a state version of RFRA that extends the higher level of protection state law as well, Washington State is not one of them.

Of course, the fact that Washington State could impose such a mandate does not mean that they should.

For the past three years, the Washington State House passed an Abortion Insurance Mandate requiring every private insurance policy to cover abortion. Each year the bill died in the Senate. Proponents of that mandate claimed it was necessary to ensure that women were not denied access to abortion because her employer’s unwillingness to pay for abortion insurance. However, in three years of debate, no one testified that an abortion had ever been denied or even delayed for lack of insurance.

At least hundreds of women communicated the fact that they wanted choice in the kind of insurance they purchased.

Arguments in support of this new mandate are equally tenuous.

The bill states that employers must be forced to pay for abortion inducing drugs because, “women with reliable access to contraceptive services have forty percent higher earnings than those who lack such access, and access to contraception can significantly increase a woman’s earning power and narrow the gender pay gap.”

All this time I’ve been telling my daughters that kindness, hard work, and good choices are going to make them successful in life. Maybe there really is a pill for that.

Fortunately, the prospects for this bill in the Senate do not appear to be strong. It has been assigned to the Senate Law & Justice committee which is chaired by Senator Mike Padden, who is not thought to be supportive of the proposal. A House companion bill was introduced yesterday (HB 1502).

Regardless of these bills’ success this year, this is yet another assault on conscience rights and a reminder of the continued need for vigilance.

The left in Washington State is working hard to create a work environment in which the willingness to participate in same-sex ceremonies and pay for abortion are preconditions to being in business.

They’re effectively creating the type of theocracy they claim to despise.

In this theocracy, government is god, the gay wedding is the worship service, and abortion is the sacrament. Provided you attend services and partake of the sacrament as often as god requires, you are welcome to participate in the marketplace. If not, they’ll cast you out until you repent.

But it’s for your own good.

To share your thoughts about this or any bill, you are encouraged to call your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

8 Things to Know About the Legislature

Today is the first day of a new 105 day session. Those we elected will begin legislative hearings and ultimately will make hundreds of decisions that will affect our lives.

During the next 105 days, we hope you will take the time to introduce yourself to your legislators and let them know how you feel about the issues you care about. The squeaky wheel usually does get the grease. Be kind, polite, and respectful, but be squeaky. And get your friends to be squeaky too.

Whether you’re considering if you should get involved or wondering how, here are eight things to remember about dealing with the legislature.

1. In politics, might makes right: The ideas that win in the legislature aren’t necessarily the best ideas, but the ideas with the most political support. You may be able to prove that your position will save money and lives, but if those who disagree with you have more political influence, they’re probably going to win anyway. You don’t have to like it, but you should believe it. So the key to influencing policy decisions is to make sure that supporting good ideas is politically advantageous. That means bringing people with you.

2. Everyone has good intentions: No one goes to the legislature saying, “I will become a tool that interest groups use to accomplish their purposes at the expense of the public.” They may have bad ideas, and they may eventually regret some of their decisions, but in their own mind they are generally doing the right thing for the right reasons. So if you want to build a relationship with your elected officials and ultimately influence them, don’t begin your conversation by accusing them of willfully causing harm. Give their motives the benefit of the doubt in the same way you hope others will do that for you.

3. Yes, you can make a difference: By virtue of being in elected office, many legislators are inherently insecure. In most cases, state elected officials were elected by a few thousand votes and some by only a few hundred (or less). They know that upsetting a significant number of voters is a good way to lose an election. As a result, your ability to generate even 20 phone calls or emails in a single day on an issue can make a big impact. They know that voters who care enough to contact them about an issue will also be willing to cast a vote on that issue as well.

4. Legislators are people too: None of us has performed perfectly in our jobs. We all need encouragement and we are all subject to being worn down by constant criticism. Yes, when someone runs for office there is a lot they are volunteering for, but encouragement and kindness is universally appreciated. In your dealings with elected officials, kindness is not only the right thing to do, it’s also much more likely to be effective.

5. Quantity is better than quality: Because the best argument doesn’t always win, it is a better use of time to spend two hours convincing 5 or 10 other people who share your perspective to contact their legislators than to spend it writing an irrefutable treatise on why your position is the right position. Of course you want to make good arguments, but good arguments without public support often don’t make it very far. So when it comes to communication with legislators, think quantity more than quality.

6. Legislators aren’t experts on everything: Every year, thousands of bills are introduced and hundreds are voted on. But it simply isn’t possible for a legislator to be an expert on every issue or understand the details of each bill. For the most part, legislators specialize on a few issues and then take advice from those they trust. They don’t want to be ignorant any more than you want them to be ignorant, but they know better than to believe everything they hear. So build credibility and become the educator they need on the issues you care about.

7. Personal communication is better communication: Lots of people ask what the most effective way to communicate with a legislator is. Really, it’s probably not that different than the most effective way to communicate with you. If someone shows up at your home or office to personally share concerns with you, that will probably make more of an impact on you than if they send an email. In general, here’s the most effective ways to communicate with your elected officials:

  1. personal visit
  2. hand-written letter
  3. personal phone call
  4. personal email or hotline message
  5. form email

While more personal communication is more effective, it remains true that quantity is better than quality. One hundred phone calls means a lot more than one personal visit. But one hundred personal visits is much better than one hundred phone calls. So be personal, but make sure you get lots of other people to do the same.

8. 1-800-562-6000: If you want to vent on the go, use the legislative hotline number. Program it into your phone right now because it allows you to contact your legislators even if you don’t know who they are. When you call this number you’ll reach a legislative hotline operator who will tell you who represents you once you provide your address then deliver whatever message you want to the Governor, your State Senator, and both your State Representatives. It isn’t the best way to communicate with your legislators, but sometimes it’s the best you can do and it’s a lot better than doing nothing.

Thank you for being part of the team to create a culture in Washington that recognizes the significance and the sanctity of the family.

To learn more about about the legislature and how you can help make a difference, sign up for our weekly Olympia 101 classes that will be taking place in Olympia throughout the session.

Washington’s New Legislators

Starting in January, the Washington State House of  Representatives and Senate will have 15 new members, who were elected to office in November.

 These new legislators are:

House
  • 4th – Bob McCaslin (R) – Spokane Valley
  • 13th – Tom Dent (R) – Ellensburg/Cle Elum
  • 14th – Gina McCabe (R) – Yakima
  • 17th – Lynda Wilson (R) – Vancouver
  • 21st – Strom Peterson (D) – Lynnwood/Mukilteo
  • 25th – Melanie Stambaugh (R) – Puyallup
  • 26th – Michelle Caldier (R) – Port Orchard/ Gig Harbor
  • 28th – Christine Kilduff (D) – Lakewood
  • 31st – Drew Stokesbary (R) – Emunclaw
  • 35th – Dan Griffey (R) – Shelton
  • 42nd – Luanne VanWerven (R) – Lynden
  • 44th – Mark Harmsworth (R) – Lake Stevens
  • 48th – Joan McBride (D) – Redmond
Senate
  • 30th – Mark Miloscia (R) – Federal Way (Miloscia is a former Representative, but is new to the Senate)
  • 37th – Pramila Jayapal (D) – Seattle/Renton

Why do we want you to know who the new legislators are?

 Because we want the first constituents they meet in their new job to be the people who share our values. They need to know who you are and that you care about them. Not just as legislators, but as people.

 This week is Session Days down in Olympia, where legislators are holding pre-session hearings, vote for caucus leadership, as well as discuss upcoming legislative issues.

 This is the time to start building those relationships. If you do, you never know what kind of impact it’s going to have down the road when critical decisions are being made.

 The abortion lobby and the homosexual lobby are in their offices early and often, and they’ll be making the case for why more government money should be spent on abortions and why businesses like Arlene’s Flowers should be sued because of their beliefs. If those are the only people who take the time to build relationships with them that share difference values than yours, who do you think will have the most influence when important decisions are being made?

 Remember, life, marriage, religious freedom, and parental rights are not organizational issues. They are family issues that affect all of us.

The legislative session will be starting in a few weeks and once it starts, our legislators will be busy making laws, creating budgets, meeting with other legislators, lobbyists and constituents on top of their other jobs and their family. In other words, they will be really busy.

 So before the Christmas and New Years break, we encourage you to reach out to your legislators, no matter how they stand on the issues that matter to you. Let them know what is important to you; they need to hear that from their constituents.

Click here to email your legislators or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

 When you are talking with your legislators, please be kind and courteous. Don’t give them a reason not to listen to you. You don’t have to become the best of friends with them, but be friendly.

 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a hard word stirs up anger.”    Proverbs 15:1