$2.2B COVID conversation begins; a road feud may be easing

Here’s what’s happening on Day 15 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112

2021 Washington Legislature, Day 15 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

Want this in your inbox Monday-Wednesday-Friday? Subscribe here.

OLYMPIA, Jan. 25, 2021 — Good morning. It is Week 3 and the state’s pandemic response will be a focal point of lawmakers’ attention.

House and Senate Democrats are fast-tracking their blueprint for directing $2.2 billion in federal aid to the state’s ongoing COVID-19 relief effort.

The plan, released Friday, includes $618 million to boost vaccination efforts, testing and contact tracing; $365 million to aid renters and landlords; and $240 million for grants to businesses.

There’s also $668 million for school assistance plus directives to public, charter and tribal schools to update their reopening plans by March 1, with an eye to offering some in-person instruction this school year.

House Bill 1368 is the vehicle. The House Appropriations Committee is to hold a hearing on it Tuesday and vote it out Thursday, setting up possible action on the floor Friday.

Expect it to be a big topic at 2:15 p.m. today when leaders of the Democratic caucuses meet with reporters. The weekly news conference will be streamed on TVW.org.

On a related note, the mutant coronavirus variant from the U.K. has reached Washington via Snohomish County.

Road feud

On the first day of the session, Gov. Jay Inslee surprised lawmakers by pausing a handful of highway projects, ostensibly to pressure them to get serious about complying with a federal court order to remove hundreds of fish-passage barriers.

He’s earmarked $726 million for the work in his proposed transportation budget and wants to see similar-sized sums in House and Senate budgets. To that end, he figured he’d free up dollars by delaying spending on projects contained in the 2015 Connecting Washington package. It is an odd bargaining tactic that immediately triggered bipartisan anger and prompted a polite blistering in a House hearing last week.

On Saturday, Inslee signaled a change of heart.

“We are reviewing all options that include restoring the paused projects, while working with legislators on assuring funding for required investments in culverts and other critical programs,” said Debbie Driver, a senior policy advisor for the governor.

On the move

A sweeping reform of policing tactics cleared the House Public Safety Committee on Friday. House Bill 1054, as amended by the panel, would bar law enforcement officers from applying chokeholds and neck restraints and from using unleashed police dogs to arrest or apprehend individuals. It also outlaws “no-knock” warrants, bars police agencies from acquiring or using tear gas and certain types of military equipment.

To subscribe to the Cornfield Report, go to www.heraldnet.com/newsletters. | Previous Cornfield Reports here.

 

News clippings

Compiled by: House Democrats | House Republicans

 

On TV

Non-profit TVW covers state government in Olympia and selected events statewide. Programs are available for replay on the internet, and the channel is widely available on Washington cable systems.

TVW schedule | Current and recent video | Archives | Shows

 

Links

Contact your legislator | District lookup | Bill lookup

Legislature home | House | Senate

Caucuses: House Democrats | House Republicans | Senate Democrats | Senate Republicans

Office of the Governor

Laws and agency rules

Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Herald) | Rachel La Corte (AP) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Times) | Jim Brunner (Times) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Sara Gentzler (McClatchy) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review)

Talk to us

More in Local News

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks with special ed Pre-K teacher Michelle Ling in her classroom at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue, Wash. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

A view of the courtyard leading to the main entrance of the new Stanwood High building on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Stanwood, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

A Marysville Pilchuck football player sports a spear on his helmet as the Tomahawks took on Snohomish in the Wesco 3A Championship Friday evening at Quil Ceda Stadium on November 1, 2019. School district leaders may soon need to consider dropping Marysville Pilchuck High School’s mascot, the Tomahawks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Should Marysville Pilchuck High drop the name ‘Tomahawks’?

A state bill would ban Native American mascots and symbols from schools — unless there is tribal permission.

About a dozen metal dinosaurs sit in the front yard of a home owned by Burt Mason and Mary Saltwick on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Freeland, Washington. The couple are used to finding strangers in their yard and taking photos. Every year on their trip to Tucson, Burt and Mary bring home another figure  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Dinos on Whidbey? This Freeland yard is a Jurassic Park

These creatures from long ago won’t chomp or chase you, and you’re welcome to visit.

Maryville Getchell High School students Madison Dawson, left, Kaden Vongsa and Jenasis Lee, who made a presentation to their school board discussing mental health, lack of resources and personal stories of their peers mental health struggles. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Students plead for better mental health support from schools

Three Marysville Getchell seniors want more counselors and improved training for staff.

Parked tractor-trailers line the side of 40th Avenue NE on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Worker wonders why dead end Marysville road is rough and rutty

A stretch of 40th Avenue NE is mostly used for heavy trucking and isn’t in line for repairs soon.

Camano Island shooting leaves father dead; son arrested

Dominic Wagstaff, 21, was taken into custody late Sunday for investigation of the murder of Dean Wagstaff, 41.

Jean Shumate (left), seen here during a February 2019 school board meeting, will retire June 30 after 20 years at the Stanwood-Camano School District superintendent. (Skagit Valley Herald)
Stanwood-Camano superintendent to retire after 20 years

Jean Shumate has been at the helm longer than any other superintendent in Snohomish County.

Snohomish County Council delays education spending vote

The council is now slated to decide next week on the measure, which targets a pre-K learning gap.

Most Read