Democrats to roll dice on Dream Act, abortion bill

Democrats in the state Senate say they are going to try to seize control of the chamber and pass controversial bills dealing with college aid for children of undocumented immigrants and abortion insurance.

They didn’t say when. And it’s likely they will fail when they do.

Democratic leaders today said they will undertake a procedural maneuver known as the Ninth Order to immediately pull the bills to the Senate floor for action. Until now the Senate Majority Coalition has blocked both bills from being voted on.

This maneuver is a two-step process. It first requires a majority of senators to vote to advance to the Ninth Order. Then they can debate and act on the bills. (Republicans used this move last year to take over the Senate and pass their budget plan.)

Right now the Democrats lack the votes to succeed.

They have 23 of the chamber’s 26 Democrats in hand. Two others, Sens. Rodney Tom of Medina and Tim Sheldon of Potlatch, are in the majority coalition with no plans to join them. The last Democrat, Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam, is committed to casting his vote for Republican Sen. Mike Carrell who is absent due to a serious illness.

“Sometimes you have to lose before you win,” Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said when asked why they would try a move with slim chances of success.

The Dream Act and the Reproductive Parity Act, which requires health plans to cover abortion if they cover maternity services, are among the most important policy bills pushed by Democrats this year. And both are sponsored by some moderate Republican senators.

Republican Sen. Steve Litzow is a sponsor of both and Democrats hope he will join them in this procedural pursuit.

No way, Litzow said today

“There’s no need for that. What I’ve told them is there are ways to bring those bills to the floor in the normal process,” Litzow said. “There’s always a way.”

But when asked what it might be, he said: “I don’t know.”

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