Politics Blog

Sen. Angel explains decision to kill homeless-housing bill, reaches out to gov.

Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, has been vilified in the media and accused by people in social services of playing "political football" with a bill that would put funding for housing homeless people on a more secure footing.

Angel on Feb. 27 quickly shut down a meeting of her Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee before HB 2368 could come to a vote. The bill as originally written would have eliminated a sunset clause in the bill, which requires a $40 recording fee on some real-estate documents. The current law has the fee dropping to $30 in 2015 and $10 in 2017.

Locals working in homelessness assistance say this will gut their operating budget by 60 percent.

By refusing to bring the bill to a vote, Angel surprised her committee colleagues from both parties because they thought they had reached a compromise: extend the $40 fee to 2020 instead of eliminating the sunset altogether.

Angel had been cagey about why she didn't allow a vote, which all but killed it for this session.

This left the door open for rumors about her motivation, including one spread by her co-chair, Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, suggesting she was on orders from Senate leader Rodney Tom to frustrate the House speaker, Frank Chopp. (see the Stranger's blog post for more.)

In a press release issued this morning, Angel finally spoke to the issue, which has been embroiled in a media-fueled controversy since her action in committee eight days ago.

The news in the release is that Angel wrote Gov. Jay Inslee, asking him to form a housing task force to evaluate funding options for homeless housing.

Here's the meat (about half) of the press release:

Angel said her main concerns about HB 2368 have to do with a lack of supporting data and reporting from the state Department of Commerce, strong discord among involved stakeholders, and the fact that the surcharge tax falls on the backs of one small and unpredictable sector.

"This isn’t a matter of being for or against homeless people. This is about finding a sustainable solution that is agreed upon by all affected stakeholders – things that the measure did not do.

"That’s why I have called on the governor for his leadership. I am sure that he would agree that Washingtonians living in cars should be at the top of our priority list.

"When you are put in a leadership position, you have to be willing to make the tough calls for the betterment of people. As co-chair of the committee, I decided to hold the measure because I know we can do better."