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Posts published in “Day: March 28, 2011”

State your party

In Oregon, as in most party-registration states, when you register to vote you also - at the same time - select which party you declare to be a member of, or say you're a member of none. Under the introduced-today Idaho Senate Bill 1198, a response to the closed-primary lawsuit by the Idaho Republican Party, the same idea would apply in Idaho.

Parties would then have the choice of allowing only declared party members, everyone, into their primaries.

The Ballot Access News site has a little more on what's likely ahead: "Voters who choose a Republican ballot in the May 2012 primary would be automatically listed as Republicans, and the same is true for the Democratic, Constitution, and Libertarian Parties. The bill does not provide for a blank line on the voter registration form for anyone to write-in the name of an unqualified party. That aspect of the bill may be unconstitutional; courts in five states have said that voters must be allowed to register into active unqualified parties. Also, the failure of the bill to provide for a blank line for a voter to write-in the name of a newly-qualifying party would mean that if a new party qualifies in Idaho, all the voter registration forms would need to be immediately reprinted."

Something like this is one of the few remaining non-budget, non-fiscal measures awaiting resolution before the Idaho legislature adjourns, which may be in another couple of weeks or so. One way or another, they really do need to respond to the ramifications of the lawsuit.

There is a slim chance otherwise; some reports have surfaced that associated parties in the case (not the Republican Party, which was the successful plaintiff, and not the state, which was the defendant) evidently are seeking an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

WA: Majority-minority; a Seattle split?

The city of Portland is split between two congressional districts, and so is the city of Boise. (The small town of Willamina, Oregon, population about 2,000, is too.) The idea of splitting the city of Seattle between congressional districts, an idea being batted around in the Washington redistricting process, seems not far-fetched (though incumbent Democratic Representative Jim McDermott , who now represents the city as a whole, isn't much pleased by it). The rationale, though, is one Northwesterners may find ... questionable.

The thought behind this idea is to create a "majority-minority" district - one where racial or ethnic minorities would make up more than half of the population. There are a number of these in the southern states, districts where black voters are numerous enough to give a black candidate odds on winning. (The idea comes from the liberal Win-Win Network.) The idea also, in the South, concentrates the Democratic vote, often making nearby districts more Republican.

Unlike those districts, this one would be an amalgam: A collection of minorities (Hispanic, Asian, black, others) instead of a single group. And the minorities all collected come to just barely over the 50% mark.

A thoughtful, struggling-with-it post on Lawyers Guns & Money is skeptical of the usefulness of this kind of a district here. It's notable, though, as one of the early shots in a Washington reapportionment process still in its early stages.

Bookpeople of Moscow


When I came to the University of Idaho at Moscow in the fall of 1974, one of my first walks to downtown was in search of a good bookstore. Right on Main Street, then a year or so old, was a very good one, one I visited regularly while a student and more often than not whenever I've visited town.

That is Bookpeople, in recent years on the other side of Main Street (it moved in the interest of expanded space), still in operation today. For decades now it has been one of the best independent book stores in the Northwest, owing in large part to the dedication of its veteran owner, Bob Greene.

How much longer it stays with us is in some doubt. The Lewiston Tribune reports that Greene is planning to retire, sell the store, and move to Oregon.

Times are rough for book stores these days. Best wishes for the store and the book clientele of the area, and hopes that the store will find a new owner who'll keep a fine business going.

Cooperation? In this decade?

Not this is a lead paragraph in government news story - and does it ever run counter to what you see in so many places these days:

"After a month of negotiating, key state budget writers from both parties say they've reached a compromise and are ready to go public with their two-year spending plan for Oregon."

The Oregonian story goes on to tell about budget chairs and co-chairs of both parties, including people toward the left of the Democratic caucus and toward the right of the Republican, sitting down and working out - gasp - compromises. In other words, making a serious attempt to sensibly govern.

Didn't that go out with the last millennium?

Regardless, credit is due to the Republican caucus in Oregon for not going the hard-core ideological route as so many of their brethren in other states have done; and to the Democrats who control two-thirds of the hammer (Senate, governor) but evidently didn't get heavy handed with it.

The details of the budget plan, the chairs' proposal which is the starting point for the budget committees, are expected to be released tomorrow. But the process at least sounds solid.

This week in the Digests

Canyon County
Idaho Democrats speak at a Canyon County event. (photo/Idaho House Democrats)

Washington and Idaho legislative sessions moved toward their climaxes, with major budget structuring underway in Washington and a couple of major bills - the last of the Tom Luna overhaul bills, which cleared the Senate, and the guns on campus bill, which died there - moving toward final action.

Economic indicators in Oregon and Washington continued to point cautiously upward.

Some of the larger stories in the Washington edition:

bullet Prison safety initiatives planned

bullet Tacoma port volume triples

bullet Seattle allows park and ride options

bullet Island farming

In the Oregon edition:

bullet CenturyLink-Qwest merger approved by PUC

bullet Representatives urge small-county payments

bullet SEIU proposes state budget shifts

bullet Commission offers global warming report

In the Idaho edition:

bullet Third bill in Luna proposal passes

bullet Personal income growth in Idaho dips

bullet Wolf litigation sans Idaho

bullet Idaho State enrollment drops