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Gov. Inslee's first week on the job: Parties, pledges, pot

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By Jerry Cornfield
Herald Columnist
One down, 207 to go: The first week of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee's tenure is in the books.
What a week it was, or wasn't, depending on your expectations.
On his first day, Jan. 16, he was sworn in, played hoops and went to inaugural balls. He also proclaimed the scientific debate on climate change as settled and the economic destiny of the state lies in clean energy jobs.
On day two, he said he might be OK with extending two taxes set to expire in June. He said that wouldn't break his campaign pledge to not increase taxes because people would be paying the same tax rate. "And the reason I believe that is it's true."
On day three, he rested.
On day four, he packed his bags for his first trip to Washington, D.C., as governor.
On day five, he flew to Washington, D.C.
On day six, he attended the inauguration of President of Barack Obama and tweeted about it.
On day seven, he met with U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to learn if the feds might try to block the state's new pot law. Inslee did a lot of talking, didn't get an answer but was very satisfied with the conversation, and flew home to prepare for Week Two.
 -- -- --
Missed the memo: No doubt you've heard leaders of the Majority Coalition Caucus in the state Senate say divisive social issues are not part of their agenda this session.
Apparently, most of their 25 members disagree.
This week, 17 of them, including the coalition's deputy leader and one of its two Democratic members, shoved the radioactive subject of abortion into the spotlight.
They did so by introducing a bill barring doctors from performing an abortion on a girl under the age of 18 unless her parents or legal guardians are notified ahead of time in person, by phone or via certified mail.
A public hearing on Senate Bill 5156 is expected as early as next week.
What happens after that will provide an early test of the coalition's ability to keep its public commitment to focus on fiscal matters and education reform.
-- -- --
One down, one to go: An audit on ferry construction costs released this month revealed part of a problem and another probe is needed to expose it all, lawmakers say.
The report found Washington State Ferries tends to pay a higher price for its vessels because of laws restricting competitive bidding and practices limiting its control on contracts.
It cites the case of the 64-car Chetzemoka whose final price was $36 million higher than that of a vessel built with a similar design serving Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
But a bipartisan group of 15 lawmakers insist that report doesn't tell the whole story on Chetzemoka and the other two new 64-car ferries, the Salish and Kennewick. All three are used on the Coupeville-Port Townsend route.
They want State Auditor Troy Kelley to conduct another audit delving into the full cost of each vessel, from inception as blueprint to operation in the water.
Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, made the request in a letter signed by 12 representatives and three senators, all from districts with ferry service.
As an example of their concerns, she said the 64-car boats were prone to listing and use more fuel than the Steel Electric class vessels they replaced. Those matters are not considered in the latest audit yet affect the cost of the boats and should be looked at, she said.
Kelley didn't commit to doing an audit but is reviewing the request.
Political reporter Jerry Cornfield's blog, The Petri Dish, is at Contact him at 360-352-8623 or
Story tags » FerriesGovernorLegislature

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