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

A Blake battle, a budget beef, and a new tax proposal arrives

It’s Day 94. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

2023 Washington Legislature, Day 94 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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

OLYMPIA, April 12, 2023 — It’s Wednesday. Found myself humming “All Night Long” early this morning. Real early.

House members worked up to and past midnight, plowing through a stack of bills culminating with a much-anticipated debate and vote on the Senate-crafted Blake bill.

It passed 54-41 around 1:30 a.m. What majority Democrats pushed through puts them at odds with House Republicans and Senate colleagues on the critical issue of the penalty for drug possession.

The House-passed version makes it a misdemeanor. The Senate bill made it a gross misdemeanor. Civic and law enforcement leaders say absent the threat of a tougher punishment, those they encounter on the street may choose arrest and brief stay in jail rather than one of the bill’s various pathways to treatment. As a result, the prevalence of open drug use in their communities won’t disappear, they say.

The House-passed version does say it will be a misdemeanor to possess and use illegal drugs “in a public place.” That verbiage looks to be Democrats’ reply to worried community leaders. And senators.

House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox isn’t buying it.

“The bill that once was the Blake Fix has become the Blake Fake,” he tweeted. “House D’s are poised to destroy the compromise that three caucuses support and pass a bill that is completely toothless in its approach to the most deadly drugs.”

Can you say conference committee? It may take one to sort things out.

OFM gets chirpy on road budget

Gov. Jay Inslee thinks transportation budgets proposed in the House and Senate make promises the state can’t keep, spend money that doesn’t exist and will reduce the presence of troopers on highways.

David Schumacher, the director of the Office of Financial Management, itemized those and other shortcomings in a three-page letter sent April 7 to Democrat and Republican lawmakers involved in crafting the plans.

“The House and Senate transportation budgets appear to fund many projects throughout the state. In reality, however, many of the projects are only partly funded or are aspirational,” he wrote. “The capital project lists look robust, but the practical constraints of delivering the projects and the unrealistic financial plan is a set-up for failure and disappointment.”

Schumacher also wrote the two budgets action on trooper staffing “diminish the ability of the Washington State Patrol to enforce roadway safety and respond to accidents that close roadways.” And he contends proposed workforce reductions in the Department of Licensing will lengthen wait times for customers.

Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, and Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, the respective chairs of the Senate and House transportation committees, didn’t get worked up about the letter. They’ve each chatted with Schumacher about it.

“We’ll take his comments seriously,” Fey said. “This is a process. He made his (budget) approach (in December). We’ve made ours.”

Liias acknowledged the question of how much the Department of Transportation can deliver is “definitely a question we want to pin down.”

On state patrol, he said, the department is understaffed. Money was in budget for vacancies and it “doesn’t make sense to fund those ghost positions.”

Plenty of conversations lie ahead.

Here Come The Taxes

A new tax bill formally arrived this morning.

Senate Bill 5770, with its 20 Democratic sponsors, is strikingly similar to one I wrote about earlier in session, House Bill 1670. That one got passed out of the House Finance Committee.

Both bills look to ditch the 1% cap on annual increases in property tax collections by cities, counties, special districts and the state. and replace it with a 3% maximum.

The Senate bill notes money generated from the state portion of any increase would go to public schools. That could be real dough for special education services and student transportation. Maybe even free meals for all students.

Sounds enticing. Maybe more than a statewide housing bond or hiking the real estate excise tax, both of which continue to be in the conversational mix as money-raising tools.

The last 11 days will be filled with false rumors and bad guesses on this topic.

Also, undoubtedly, time for a few bars of “All Night Long.”

To subscribe to the Cornfield Report, go to | Previous Cornfield Reports here.

News clippings

Compiled by: House Democrats | House Republicans


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 | Shows


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 (Everett Herald) | Tom Banse (NW News Network) | Jim Brunner (Seattle Times) | Laurel Demkovich (Spokesman-Review) | Jeanie Linsday (KUO)| Joseph O’Sullivan (Crosscut) | Melissa Santos (Axios) | Shauna Sowersby (McClatchy newspapers) | Claire Withycombe (Times)

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Pet detective Jim Branson stops to poke through some fur that Raphael the dog found while searching on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Everett, Washington. Branson determined the fur in question was likely from a rabbit, and not a missing cat.(Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lost a pet? Pet detective James Branson and his dogs may be able to help

James Branson, founder of Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, helps people in the Seattle area find their missing pets for $350.

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Pablo Garduno and the team at Barbacoa Judith’s churn out pit-roasted lamb tacos by the dozen at the Hidden Gems Weekend Market on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at Boom City in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Eating our way through Tulalip’s Hidden Gems weekend market

Don’t miss the pupusas, pit-roasted lamb tacos, elotes and even produce for your next meal.

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.