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    State of Play

    Wash.: Business Watching Labor's Legislative Agenda

    Friday, Jan. 15, 1999

    Since the November election, business lobbyists have talked about what organized labor wants from the legislature, now that Democrats control the Senate and populate half the House. Union activists were seen as key to many Democratic victories, and some wonder what their reward will be. On the flip side, Democratic legislative sources say unions are likely to be practical and restrained. The Washington State Labor Council has issued several legislative objectives for the 1999 session, including collective bargaining for state employees, changes in the workers' compensation system and a study on temporary workers, which is particularly interesting to Redmond-based computer giant Microsoft, which employs significant numbers of temporary employees without benefits.

    More State Political News From:
    Arkansas | California | Florida
    Indiana | Mississippi
    | Texas

    Arkansas: House Freshman On the Rise


    The Arkansas legislature convened this week with the largest freshman class in state history. Due to term limits, freshman legislators fill more than half the chamber's 100 seats. A newcomer will fill one additional seat, following the death of Democratic state Rep. W.K. "Mack" McGehee in Little Rock last week. McGehee, who had been preparing for the start of his second term, was considered a likely candidate for House speaker in 2001.

    California: Davis Gives 'Gray' State of the State


    Some of Gov. Gray Davis's fellow Democrats gave his first State of the State address a lukewarm response after he ignited a debate over public school accountability measures, which a special session running concurrently with the regular session will address. Davis's remarks about firing principals, transferring teachers and closing down schools didn't sit well with legislative Democrats with close ties to the powerful California Teachers Association. Davis's first budget last week included few surprises; he asked for no spending increases or tax cuts, but he did propose expanding the state's Healthy Start program for low-income youngsters.

    Florida: Respect for Chiles Puts Pension Issue Off Until Regular Session


    Lawmakers called off an planned special session to override a veto of a police and firefighter pension bill by the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles for fear of disrespecting his memory. House leaders had planned to hold a one-day special session and override the veto this week, but cancelled the session after Chiles died of heart failure in December. Instead, GOP leaders are expected to introduce a new bill this session that would give municipalities the chance to amend legislation that they found too costly.

    Indiana: State Party Chairman in Flux


    Indiana Democratic Party Chair Joe Andrew appears to likely to replace DNC National Chairman Steve Grossman in March, and state Democrats are already vying for Andrews's post. Officially, the state central committee makes the appointment, but Gov. Frank O'Bannon (D) will give the unofficial nod. Party executive director Robin Winston, former Marion County party chair Kip Tew and attorney Peter Manous are among the possible candidates. Winston says he's not interested in the post, but Tew and Manous are still up for consideration.

    Mississippi: Attorney General Moore Will Not Seek Governorship


    Mississippians were surprised with the news last week that Attorney General Mike Moore (D), fresh from a major victory in the national tobacco lawsuit, will not seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2000. In the past Moore said his ambitions might take him to Washington, but he recently expressed a desire to stay in Mississippi and become governor. Now Moore says his heart is not in a gubernatorial bid, but observers speculate he is either trying to avoid a tough fight against Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) or is more excited about the possibility of a top judicial post in Washington.

    The Musgrove camp claims Moore's supporters are defecting to their side, and Republicans undoubtedly are concerned by Musgrove's centrist appeal. Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Jimmy Roberts, who had been eyeing a bid for state attorney general, is said to be telling supporters he is now considering the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Musgrove is reportedly hoping to woo former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy to his corner, possibly on the ticket. Moore, meanwhile, will seek reelection this year.

    Texas: Diversity in GOP Cabinet Appointments


    Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander became the first female tax collector for the Lone Star State when she took the oath of office Jan. 2. Rylander, a former Austin mayor, joined many Republicans statewide who rode GOP Gov. George W. Bush's coattails into office, replacing Democrat John Sharp, who vacated the seat for an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor. On Jan. 4, Bush swore in the first African-American and first Hispanic to serve on the state Railroad Commission. Michael Williams, a Bush appointee, and Tony Garza, a former Bush secretary of state who was elected to the Railroad Commission in November, took the oaths in Austin. Bush will be sworn in at noon on Jan. 19 for an unprecedented second consecutive four-year term. Lt. Gov.-elect Rick Perry (R) also will be sworn in that day.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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