Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Representative Upthegrove

I started following this guy when I read about how he was advocating for free speech protections for high school and college students. Upthegrove is the youngest member of the Washington State House of Representatives. He's also an openly gay man. The bill he sponsored has now passed the House in a weakened form that will only protect college publications. High school students, unfortunately, had to be sacrificed to get even the weak protections for community college students passed. The issue has been discussed by journalism professionals, has been the subject of editorials and court cases. Some would-be student journalists are simply moving to the internet.

As interesting as I find the issue of student journalists and free speech (I know it comes as no surprise to those who know me that I support a student's right to free speech and highly regard the value of journalistic education in schools), that's not the subject of this post.

Elsewhere in the state legislature, another battle was brewing, this time over holding insurance companies accountable for unfairly denying claims. Similar to the homeowner protections that had the BIAW in a tizzy, this bill would allow insurance customers who could prove an insurance company unreasonably denied a claim or violated unfair practice rules to collect damages. Of course the insurance industry doesn't want there to be these kinds of consequences for their actions. Insurance companies are for profit enterprises and they're not eager to give up all the advantages that have already been legislated in their favor.

And, just as with the free speech for school papers issue, political support or opposition has fallen straight along party lines: Dems for safe-guarded free speech, corporate accountability and protections for individuals; Repubs for controls on free speech, unfettered capitalism, and protections for corporations. Unhappy at being part of the 1/3 minority in the state legislature during this debate, Republican Rep. Dan Roach decided to make things personal on the floor of the legislature by bringing a Democratic Representative's trial lawyer husband into the show, saying "Look out guys, the train is coming through," he said. "The Keith Kessler train is coming through and you better get out of the way. [as if a train whistle] Woo, woo!" This caused quite a stir as such personal attacks are against the rules on the House floor. King5 News has video of both Rep. Roach and the quite angry Rep. Kessler. Drama!

Meanwhile, Representatives Upthegrove has changed the music on his MySpace page. Click it! You know you want to.



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